A road traffic or accident injury is any injury that occurs while driving in a vehicle on a highway or on a side street. Injuries from road traffic accidents can sometimes be quite serious, especially for those involving high speeds, multiple cars, or drunk driving (DUI).
Common causes of car accidents and road traffic injuries include the following:
- Bad weather;
- Violations of driving laws or rules (e.g., running red lights or going over the speed limit);
- Intoxication; both voluntary and involuntary intoxication;
- Cell phone usage or other distractions, such as adjusting the radio, looking at scenery, and talking or arguing with passengers;
- Falling asleep at the wheel;
- Car malfunctions (e.g., faulty brakes, non-functioning headlights, etc.);
- Reckless or careless driving; and
- Construction or road work that interferes with driving conditions.
Many car accident lawsuits are based on negligence claims, unless they involve some sort of intentional or severely reckless behavior.
Motor vehicle accidents can include car-to-car crashes, truck accidents, car-to-pedestrian accidents, motorcycle crashes, crashing into a guardrail, and various other kinds of collisions.
What are Common Examples of Road Traffic Injuries?
Road traffic injuries can involve many different types of situations. Some examples of the more frequently cited traffic injuries include:
- Rear-end injuries: These types of injuries occur when someone is tailgating (i.e., following too closely behind another car), or when someone is speeding;
- Rubber-necking injuries: Rubber-necking injuries are those that are a result of stopping or slowing down in traffic to view a road accident;
- Jaywalking: Jaywalking is actually illegal in many states and could lead to having to pay fines. Although jaywalking is a pedestrian-related offense, it is included under road traffic claims;
- Pile-ups: This happens when multiple cars are involved in an accident, which causes many injuries and damages to several cars; and
- Pedestrian Accidents: This could include any injuries where a pedestrian was part of the cause or was associated with the accident.
How is “Fault” in a Road Accident Determined?
When there is a claim for a road accident, negligence is usually the underlying basis of the claim. This means that the claimant (plaintiff) will need to be able to prove that someone else was negligent in causing the accident, in order to recover damages for their injuries.
In most jurisdictions, the following four legal elements must be satisfied in order to prove negligence for a road accident claim. They include:
- Duty of Care: It is necessary that the defendant owe the plaintiff a duty of care. In regard to traffic or driving laws, all drivers owe other drivers the duty to drive safely and to obey all traffic laws at all times;
- Breach of Duty: It must be demonstrated that the defendant breached their duty to drive safely. For example, if the defendant driver failed to obey traffic signs, this will be considered a breach of the duty of care;
- Causation: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s breach actually and proximately caused their injuries. If the defendant did not cause their injuries, they will likely not be held liable;
- Damages: The plaintiff must be able to calculate the losses and costs associated with their injuries, and translate it to monetary amounts. If the plaintiff cannot easily determine the amount in numbers, their damages award may be reduced or even denied.
Road or traffic collisions typically occur either because the driver did not act according to proper driving standards, or other people on the road were not driving carefully.
There are a few situations in which the other driver will almost always be found to be at fault, meaning the above four elements for negligence will not have to be shown. These situations include the following:
- Rear-End Collisions: If a person has been rear-ended by another driver, it can almost be guaranteed that the other driver is the one at fault. A basic rule of driving is to make sure that there is enough room to stop safely at traffic lights, stop signs, behind other vehicles, and so on. Thus, it would follow that the person who collided from behind was the driver who most likely was not following the rules, unless it can be proven otherwise; and
- Left Turn Accidents: Any time a car is making a left turn, the driver will often be liable for a collision with a car that is traveling straight and in the opposite direction. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
What are Recoverable Damages for Road Accident Injuries?
A road accident injury will often lead to a personal injury lawsuit. The typical remedy in such a case is a compensatory damages award that is paid by the defendant to the victim of the accident.
Compensatory damage awards are intended to cover the cost of the expenses sustained during the car accident. These costs can include:
- Medical and hospital expenses;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering;
- Damages to the victim’s car or property;
- Reduced quality of life;
- Physical therapy expenses; or
- Lost time at work.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with Road Accident Injury Lawsuits?
A lawsuit for a road or traffic accident injury can sometimes be quite a challenge to handle because of the various legal issues, facts, and possible conflicts that are involved. As such, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for assistance with road traffic injuries or other related claims.
A personal injury lawyer will be able to advise you on the relevant injury laws in your state, help you prepare your case, and can represent you in court if necessary. A lawyer can also assist in calculating your damages and determining how much recovery you might be able to receive from a lawsuit.