The majority of personal injury claims in the U.S. result from automobile accidents. Motor vehicle accidents include cars, trucks, vans, buses, SUV’s, and motorcycles, and may involve one vehicle, multiple vehicles, and pedestrians. With the record number of cars on the road today, car accidents are very common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 39,000 fatal car crashes occurred in 2005 and that over 43,000 people involved in those crashes died. Auto accidents can also cause extreme physical injury to victims. Sometimes the severity of injuries don’t fully manifest until a few days after the car accident, but this fact does not necessarily mitigate the causal link between the accident and one’s injury.
Most often, auto accidents are caused by another driver’s negligence or recklessness. In these cases, an individual injured as a result of such negligence or recklessness will have a claim and right to secure compensation based upon the severity of injury and degree of pain and suffering. In negligence cases, the injured party is required to prove that the person who caused the accident was negligent, that negligence was a proximate cause of the accident, and that the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Courts look to a number of factors in determining whether a driver was negligent, including, for example, whether the driver causing the accident was disobeying traffic signs or signals, failed to signal while turning, the extent to which a person drove above or below the posted speed limit, or whether the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver may also be liable for an injury-causing accident due to his or her intentional or reckless conduct. A driver who is reckless is one who willfully and or wantonly disregards a high risk that his or her conduct will cause an accident.
Auto Collisions Caused by a Driver’s Fatigue
It is not safe for an individual to operate a vehicle when he or she is exhausted. However, many drivers do exactly this, often because they do not realize the dangers of driving when fatigued. A fatigued driver cannot react to other drivers or hazards in the roadway as easily as well-rested drivers, which puts them at an increased risk of causing collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, and stationary objects like medians and personal property. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous for the drivers and others on the road as drunk driving.
Warning signs of fatigued drivers include vehicles failing to maintain their lanes, vehicles failing to maintain consistent speeds, and vehicles that seem to react abruptly or not at all to red lights, stop signs, and debris in the roadway. If you observe one or more of these warning signs while you are driving, avoid that vehicle and contact local law enforcement to report its make, model, and license plate number. The driver could be too exhausted to drive safely or he or she could be distracted or under the influence of alcohol or another drug. In any case, you could be saving lives by taking this action.
In 2013, 256 collisions on New York roadways were attributed to fatigued drivers. In 194 of these cases, the driver actually fell asleep behind the wheel.
Car Crashes Resulting From Drunk and Impaired Driving
On average, 12.6 traffic fatalities occur as the result of drunk drivers each year in Westchester County. For Bronx County, the number is 14.2.
Alcohol is widely known to impair a driver’s ability to safely operate his or her vehicle, but it is not the only drug that can cause a driver to be a hazard for themselves and others on the roadway. Drugs like marijuana and opiates as well as prescription drugs, particularly sleep aids, can inhibit an individual’s perception, judgment, and coordination. Drivers under the influence of alcohol and other drugs often behave similarly to exhausted drivers. This can manifest as swerving in and out of lanes, failing to maintain a consistent speed, tailgating other vehicles, and ignoring posted traffic signs like stoplights.
In New York, it is illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. If another driver involved in your collision is found to have had a BAC that exceeded this level at the time of the collision, it is very likely he or she will be deemed negligent and thus, liable for your resulting damages that exceed your PIP coverage, if any.
Accidents Caused by Aggressive Drivers
Anger and other emotions can impact an individual’s ability to drive safely. Aggression is often a byproduct of anger, but it can also come from an individual’s perception of themselves or others, a sense of fear about driving in certain areas or driving in general, or simply how the individual was taught to drive. No matter why a person drives in an aggressive manner, he or she poses a collision risk to others by engaging in aggressive behaviors like tailgating, cutting off other drivers, speeding, and weaving in and out of traffic lanes.
Your risk of being involved in a collision with aggressive drivers increases when you choose to engage with the aggressive driver. If you face a driver behaving in an aggressive manner on the roadway, remain calm and allow the individual to pass you and others to leave your stretch of roadway. Do not attempt to “get even” with the aggressive driver because you never will. Instead, be vigilant of the aggressive driver’s moves and drive in a safe, defensive manner while continuing to follow posted traffic rules. If the other driver involved in your accident was found to have broken a traffic law or behaved in a reckless manner, he or she will likely be deemed to be the negligent party.
Contact a Bronx and Westchester Auto Accident Attorney Today:
In addition, regardless of who causes the accident, under the state’s no-fault insurance law, you are entitled to compensation for any “serious injury” that results from an automotive accident. No-Fault insurance pays for various expenses for car accident victims in New York State. It applies to the occupants of a car (including pickups, SUVs, and most vehicles, but not to motorcycle drivers or passengers), and also to pedestrians and bicyclists who are hit by a car. Benefits including medical expenses and lost wages, and other expenses, such as if you have to take a taxi to a doctor’s appointment, the cost of prescription drugs, or even for housework if you hire someone to help you.
Our Advice: Auto Accidents
Ten steps to take if you are involved in an automobile accident:
- First, remain calm and stop your vehicle (the law requires you to do so).
- Call the police or request or ensure that another has summoned the police.
- If you or any passenger in your vehicle is seriously injured, do not move, remain in your vehicle if you can do so safely. If your injuries do not prevent you from exiting the vehicle, do so and move to a safe location off the roadway.
- Never admit fault or adapt another’s version of the auto accident.
- Note the identity of any person claiming to have witnessed the accident.
- Cooperate fully with the police and other emergency responders who arrive at the scene. Absent injuries or police response you are required to exchange information with the operator(s) of other vehicle(s) involved.
- Make notes of the time of occurrence, specific location, description of other vehicles involved, including license plates, weather conditions and roadway conditions.
- If you have a camera available, photograph the scene as well as damage or any defect (pot holes, missing signs, defective traffic lights) which may have contributed to the accident.
- Ensure that your account, your passengers account or any witnesses account are given to the police and included in the police report.
- Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Often insurance companies will disclaim responsibility for injuries when they are not properly reported, documented or treated.