When two or more vehicles collide, it can be difficult to determine which vehicle caused the initial impact. Oftentimes, accounts of how the accident occurred will vary among witnesses and even the drivers involved in the collision. Police officers undergo vehicle accident investigation training, so they can determine the causes of a collision. Officers may investigate the scene, noting the weather and road conditions and the type and extent of property damage. Accident scene recreations often determine the speed vehicles were traveling at the time of the accident.
If you were in a serious car accident that caused injury to both drivers, avoid admitting any contributing fault. Allow police to objectively analyze the accident scene, so they may make an independent determination of causation. If the police report determines the other driver was responsible, consider discussing your case with a car accident attorney.
Car Accident Scenarios
Car accidents are common and may occur under a variety of circumstances. Drivers who exercise care and obey all traffic laws expect to safely arrive at their destination. However, not all drivers put forth sufficient effort to ensure they safely share the roadways. Rather, some drivers choose to engage in dangerous behaviors that significantly increase the risks of an accident. Motor vehicle accidents frequently result in severe, life-changing injuries. A few common car accident scenarios that may likely cause serious injury include:
Rear-end crashes – Most drivers who commute to work are forced to deal with stop-and-go traffic on a daily basis. All drivers have a responsibility to stay alert for stopped vehicles. Rear-end collisions are a leading cause of whiplash. When a loaded semi-truck is involved, rear-end collisions can be extremely dangerous. Fully loaded trucks—traveling in ideal conditions and at 65 mph—require 525 feet to safely come to a stop. The distance is the equivalent of two football fields and twice that required for a passenger vehicle to safely stop at the same speed.
Drivers may be liable for the injuries caused by an accident if the accident resulted from driver error or improper vehicle maintenance. Brake failure, defective parts, and inattentive driving can result in life-threatening injuries for you and your passengers.
Failure to yield the right-of-way – A driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way is one of the leading causes of car accidents. Distracted drivers or drivers who believe they can turn left quickly enough to avoid an approaching car place innocent drivers in harm’s way. Often the failure to yield the right-of-way is a violation of traffic laws, which deems drivers responsible for any resulting accidents and injuries.
Motorcycle operators and passengers are especially at risk of sustaining serious injuries when cars fail to yield the right-of-way. Violating traffic rules increases the likelihood of serious injury, and even death for riders who are unprotected and have no time to react.
Driving under the influence (DUI) – When identifying who is responsible for the accident, evidence of drinking and driving can be a determining factor. The odor of alcohol, the presence of beer cans, slurred speech and other signs of impairment may implicate a driver’s fault. The permitted blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while operating a motor vehicle in Washington is 0.08. A BAC of 0.08 or higher is considered driving under the influence.
Impaired driving statistics in Washington are concerning:
- Fifty-percent of roadway fatalities are caused by impaired driving.
- In 2017, more than 25,000 people were arrested for drunk driving.
- Each summer, from July-September, an average of 149 people die in traffic crashes.
If an impaired driver is arrested for DUI after causing an accident, an injured victim’s pursuit of a civil car accident claim is independent of any criminal proceedings. The outcome of the criminal proceedings will not affect the outcome of an injured victim’s civil claim, and vice versa.
Aggressive driving – A survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that nearly 80 percent of drivers admitted to expressing anger while driving at least once in the past month.
Aggressive driving may involve running red lights and speeding. Oftentimes, driver’s aggression can escalate quickly and develop into dangerous road rage. If a driver’s aggressive behavior causes an accident, other drivers may have observed the behavior before the crash. Hopefully, other drivers who witnessed the behavior will pull over at the accident scene. They may provide responding officers with information and possibly serve as a valuable witness to supxport an injured victim’s claim.
The above scenarios may help determine who caused an accident. While vehicle damage, tire skid marks, and other factors may be considered, certain behaviors may indicate fault. Holding the responsible driver accountable for any accident-related injuries may deter similar reckless behavior, and, in turn, prevent further harm in the future.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Serious car accidents often cause severe injuries to those involved. Airbags and seatbelts provide occupants with some protection; however, the protection is typically inconsequential in catastrophic accidents. Common car accident injuries include:
Traumatic brain injuries may have long-lasting impacts on victims. Depending on the severity of the TBI, injured victims may never return to the person they were before the accident. TBIs can render victims entirely dependent on others. Despite your best intentions, your loved one suffering from TBI may require more care than you can provide.
When a TBI requires your loved one to reside in an assisted living facility, the costs can be significant. In the United States, the average cost for a skilled nursing facility is more than $8,000 per month. While your loved one’s injuries may necessitate 24-hour care, the expense is more than most people can afford.
No one should pay out-of-pocket for expenses that result due to the reckless behavior of another. Medical costs continue to rise and medical equipment often needs to be regularly replaced. For patients with a spinal cord injury, the ongoing need for power chairs, accessible transportation, and personal care can reach millions of dollars every year. Injured victims may be entitled to recover compensation for any accident-related medical expenses. Discuss your case with an attorney, so you understand your options for pursuing justice.
Important Steps After a Car Accident
Call 911 – After sustaining injuries in a car accident, if you are able, you should first call 911. However, severe injuries may prevent you from making the call. In this case, ask a witness or bystander to call. Never assume someone already called for emergency help. The sooner dispatch receives notification, the sooner first responders can arrive on the scene.
Try to remain with your vehicle if it is safe to do so. You should avoid contacting the other driver if the environment is hostile. Call 911 if the other driver’s behavior causes you to fear for your safety.
Seek medical care – After a serious car accident, you may want to believe that you are uninjured. The human body releases adrenaline after enduring a traumatic event. Despite sustaining serious internal injuries, adrenaline may mask the intensity of your pain. In addition, trauma may cause your body to go into shock after an accident. If untreated, shock can lead to permanent organ damage and possibly death. Increased heart rate may indicate more than an adrenaline rush.
Internal bleeding is an especially dangerous condition because symptoms are typically delayed. Only medical professionals using diagnostic equipment can properly detect and treat internal bleeding caused by a car accident.
Always seek immediate medical care after an accident. Not only can it save your life, but it can also serve as valuable documentation of your injuries.
Never apologize – Instinctively, when something bad happens, many of us want to apologize. However, by saying you are sorry, you may implicate your own fault for the accident. It is in your best interest to avoid communicating with the other driver to ensure they cannot use your words to discredit your claim.
Remain calm – In the aftermath of a traumatic accident, it may be difficult to remain calm. However, keep your temper under control. Witnesses may not know how the accident occurred and who is at fault. If witnesses observe erratic behavior, they may incorrectly assume the accident was your fault. Take a deep breath and wait for law enforcement to arrive at the scene.
Preserve potential evidence – If you can take pictures or videos with your smartphone, both can serve as documentation of the crash. Ask any witnesses to help you take pictures of the scene, and be sure to get their contact information. Some witnesses may appear reluctant simply because they do not want to get involved. However, many individuals will be happy to help in any way they can.
Be cautious when disclosing information – Some information should not be shared with just anyone at the scene of the accident. However, it can be tricky to determine which information to keep to yourself and which individuals should be avoided. Immediately following a car accident, victims may be uncertain about who they can trust. The other driver may appear very upset and friendly. Insurance representatives may want to help you once you are in the hospital.
Speak to law enforcement and emergency responders. Police, firefighters, and medical transport teams need to know what happened, if there are sparks or potential for fire, and where you feel pain.
If insurance representatives contact you soon after the accident, they may want to settle the case quickly. They understand you have experienced a traumatic event and may try to take advantage of your emotional stress. Be aware of representatives’ use of pressure tactics. You should wait to accept or sign any documents. If you accept an insurance company’s settlement offer, even if it is inadequate, you waive your right to recover any additional compensation later.
Insurance companies are very experienced at pressuring victims into accepting low settlement offers. Victims are often suffering and in pain from their injuries. To ensure you can focus on your recovery, you should not try to handle negotiations alone. Consider contacting a car accident attorney without delay. Attorneys regularly handle the legal complexities of injured victim’s claims so they can focus on healing.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Insurance companies are often quite aggressive in their attempt to settle a case. Insurance representatives aim to protect their company’s best interests by limiting their financial liability. While their initial settlement offer may seem like a large sum, chances are it isn’t enough to cover the costs of the victim’s future medical care. Do not try to negotiate with insurance companies on your own.
The statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim is within three years of the date of the accident. While three years may seem like a long time when in fact, it can pass quickly. If the statute of limitations expires, victims are barred from filing their claim and have no legal remedy to recover compensation.
Contacting an attorney as soon as you are able. When appropriate, a car accident attorney may negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. An experienced car accident attorney regularly fights for the rights of injured victims to recover the compensation they are entitled to. If necessary, when negotiations prove to be unsuccessful, an attorney can take your case to trial.
Many car accident attorneys offer potential clients a free case evaluation. Consulting with an attorney can help injured victims evaluate their options moving forward. While each case is unique, injured victims may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Protecting your best interests soon after your accident is important for protecting your future. Speak with a trustworthy car accident attorney.
Should you decide to select a legal team to represent you, they will need to know every detail about the accident that you can remember. Car accident attorneys have experience in dealing with clients who are under stress and who have anxiety about their future. While we regularly aggressively fight insurance companies for fair compensation, we also know how to treat clients with care and concern.
Why You Need Legal Representation
Car accident attorneys strive to protect the rights of injured victims. When an accident is caused by the recklessness of another, injured victims may have the legal right to pursue compensation from responsible parties.
Inquiring about legal representation is a proactive approach to a brighter future for you and your family. Injured victims deserve access to quality medical care. A car accident attorney may help injured victims by guiding them through the civil claim process and by representing their best interests. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a free consultation. Be aware of aggressive insurance representatives and consider securing the services of an experienced car accident attorney today.
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121