Automobile accidents occur when a driver of a vehicle collides with:
- Another vehicle;
- A pedestrian;
- An animal;
- Road debris;
- Other stationary obstructions, such as:
- poles; or
More than 38,000 individuals die in car accidents every year in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, individuals are involved in an automobile accident every 10 seconds.
An automobile accident is the leading cause of death of individuals in the United States who are 35 years of age and younger. The majority of car accidents are caused by drivers engaging in irresponsible driving behaviors.
Statistics show that 98% of automobile accidents involve one single distracted driver. Common causes of automobile accidents include:
- Rubbernecking, or slowing down a car to watch what is going on outside the vehicle, such as a wreck;
- Drivers who use cellular phones while driving to make calls and/or text;
- Driver fatigue;
- Passenger distractions;
- Looking at scenery;
- Adjusting the radio or other vehicle controls;
- Poor weather conditions;
- Vehicle defects;
- Vehicle mechanical issues;
- Poor visibility related to factors other than weather, such as trees or bushes blocking the view of the road;
- Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI);
- An issue with a road sign or traffic light;
- Road work; and
- Other unpredictable factors which drivers may encounter.
Studies have shown that an individual can suffer neck injuries in an automobile accident as slow as 5 miles per hour. Studies have also shown that most vehicles are damaged in an accident of 10 miles per hour or faster.
What are Toll Booth Accidents?
A toll booth generally requires vehicles to stop or to slow down in a short period of time in order to pay the required fee for crossing at a toll road or at a bridge. This type of driving situation can result in a very specific type of accident due to the sudden need for vehicles to slow down, as well as because toll booths may become crowded across numerous lanes.
A toll booth accident may be very serious and can involve issues including:
- High-speed collisions;
- Rear-end collisions and injuries;
- Automobile collisions related to sudden lane changes; and
- Property damage, especially in cases where a car crashes into a booth or into a lane barrier.
The majority of toll booth accidents involve rear-end collisions. When a vehicle is struck from behind, it may result in serious whiplash or other neck-related injuries, especially when higher speeds are involved.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Toll Booth Accident?
The determination of who is liable for a toll booth accident is handled in a similar fashion to the majority of other auto accident claims. This may involve consideration of several factors, including:
- Whether the driver was violating any traffic laws;
- The speeds which were involved;
- Whether the driver was distracted; and
- Other relevant factors.
Liability for toll booth accidents may be more severe if there were other factors present, including driving recklessly or other DUI issues.
Are There any Legal Remedies for a Toll Booth Accident?
A toll booth accident may result in serious injuries to many individuals. The legal remedies may include a damages award to compensate the injured plaintiff for their losses and expenses, including medical bills.
If the case involves property damage, a monetary award may also provide compensation for that damage. In cases involving criminal offenses, state laws may require criminal legal remedies.
As previously noted, reckless driving or drunk driving (DUI) elements in a case may result in more severe damages and, in certain cases, criminal charges. Criminal charges may result in:
- Criminal fees;
- A loss of driving privileges;
- Jail time; and
- Other consequences.
What Type of Damages Can I Recover in an Auto Accident Lawsuit?
There are two main categories of damages which a plaintiff can be awarded in an auto accident lawsuit, compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are monetary awards which are paid by the negligent driver to the driver and passengers of the other vehicle to compensate them for their losses.
Compensatory damages are intended to cover all of the usual losses from an automobile accident which can be proven, including:
- The cost to repair or replace a damaged automobile. Compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing an automobile may include the cost of renting a replacement vehicle while repair work is done;
- An individual who is injured by a negligent driver may expect to receive damages to pay the costs of medical care; those costs may include:
- hospital stays; or
- If an individual injured in an automobile accident cannot do their job, they can be compensated for their lost wages; and
- An injured driver or passenger may also be able to request compensation for their pain and suffering.
It may also be possible to receive compensation for losses which may be experienced in the future. For example, an individual may not be able to work in the same line of work as they did prior to the accident.
When this occurs, they may be able to obtain compensation for the financial losses which this may cause. In addition to these types of issues, an injured driver may require long-term care in a nursing facility.
A negligent driver may be required to pay for the cost of the injured individual’s long-term care. It may require expert testimony in order to estimate the amount of future losses which may be incurred.
Can I Recover Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are additional compensation which a negligent driver may be required to pay if they demonstrated intentional misconduct or extreme recklessness. Extreme recklessness may include speeding well over the speed limit or speeding through a school zone.
The majority of auto accidents involve simple negligence, as noted above. Negligence may include conduct such as not stopping in time and hitting the car in front of an individual at a red light.
In those types of cases, the injured driver will likely not collect punitive damages. Punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, may be awarded if a negligent driver engaged in other conduct, such as:
- A gross violation of a traffic law or road rule;
- Driving while intoxicated, such as DUI or DWI;
- Incompetence, especially if the driver was unlicensed; and
- Driving while knowing that the vehicle was in poor condition.
Punitive damages are intended to punish a negligent driver for gross misconduct. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages.
Because of this, if an injured driver’s vehicle was not damaged or if the driver was not injured, punitive damages would not be awarded. Certain states place limits on the amount of punitive damages which can be awarded.
Typically, the states which place limits state that the amount of punitive damages which are awarded must be relatively proportionate to the compensatory damages award. This means that the amount of punitive damages must be reasonable when compared to compensatory damages.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Toll Booth Accident Lawsuit?
It is essential to have the assistance of an automobile accident lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you may have related to a toll booth accident. Tollbooth accidents may involve a complicated mix of laws and statutes.
A lawyer is best equipped to navigate these issues and fight for compensation for your injuries or losses. Your lawyer will review your case, advise you regarding the applicable laws in your state, and prepare your case for court as well as represent you when you appear.