Though no one anticipates being involved in a car crash, the truth is that accidents are more common than you realize. For example, it was reported by the Association for Safe International Road Travel that last year alone, 1.25 million people died in a road crash. This is an average of over 3,000 deaths per day, making auto accidents 2.2 percent of all deaths globally.
These numbers increase if you consider not just fatalities, but people who are injured in an automobile accident. An additional 20 to 50 million people are injured and/or disabled each year due to road crashes – and often, these accidents have irreversible physical and financial effects. Road crashes are becoming so frequent that research suggests auto accidents will be the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.
Protecting Yourself Before and During an Auto Accident
Because auto accidents are so common, it’s beneficial to take preventative measures to protect yourself and your passengers. You may not be able to combat the negligence and careless of others, but there are other forms and aspects of auto accidents that can be compensated for.
- Wearing and Checking Your Seatbelt – Since the federal government mandated them in 1968, seatbelts have saved thousands of lives every year. In 2017, it was projected that over 15,000 lives were saved by people wearing their seatbelts.
- However, wearing a seatbelt is useless if yours has been damaged or destroyed in some way. Not a lot of people consider how essential it is to check that your seatbelt is functioning correctly before you drive. If you find that, after inspection, your seatbelt bolts are loose or find any cracks and corrosion on the belt buckle, your car may not be safe to drive.
- Make Sure to Use a Car Seat – Car accidents produce the highest number of children fatalities nationwide, yet 43% of American parents do not restrain their child while driving. Though car seats can be a hassle, they are indeed the number one way to save your child in the event of an auto accident.
- Do Not Text and Drive – Smartphones can be great resources for communication, but they do not belong in the car. Distracted driving is a widespread issue sweeping the nation; in 2016 alone, 391,000 people were injured by distracted drivers and 3,450 people were killed. What’s worse is that this number only increases as cell phones become more popular. Do not operate a phone while you are driving to save yourself and others from harm.
Another unfortunately common cause of injury accidents is driving under the influence. Driving under the influence can result in almost 30 deaths per day. This is about one death every 50 minutes. Though any form of distracted driving is sure to result in an auto accident and can be fatal to the driver and any other passengers in the car, driving under the influence also bears significant legal charges.
What do I do after a car crash?
Unfortunately, even people who follow all the rules and take all the necessary precautions can wind up in an auto accident. If you are involved in a car collision or system failure, the first step (besides making sure that you and anyone else involved has received proper treatment) is to consider pursuing legal action against any person that has wronged you at the time of the crash.
There are many different routes you can take to seek damages against an offending party. In a case where another driver is at fault, you can seek compensation for medical costs, automobile replacement costs, and any wages lost during your recovery time. The only exception to filing a claim is if you live in a “no-fault” state, but there are exemptions that you may benefit from.
Certain elements pay a role when pursuing a car accident case. To file, you and possibly a lawyer will need to consider comparative fault, liability, and negligence and provide appropriate evidence where necessary.
Negligence – This is one of the most critical parts of an auto accident case and often is necessary to receive compensation. To prove the negligence of another party, you must provide evidence that demonstrates:
- The defendant had a duty to be cautious and considerate on roadways.
- The defendant violated the above duty and behaved negligently.
- The defendant’s negligence resulted in injury to you or a loved one.
- You incurred damages as a result of your injuries
Proving negligence is an essential component in an auto accident case and as such is a significant focus in car crash lawsuits.
Comparative Fault – Comparative fault essentially weighs what percentage responsible is each person for causing an accident. If a court or judge finds that you were in any way the cause of the auto crash, your damages may be reduced. This may affect your car accident case even in the event of a settlement outside of court.
Liability – If you are in an auto accident, it is essential that you do not claim fault. Often people will make the mistake of admitting fault instinctively (“I’m so sorry” or “It’s my fault”) which can harm your claim if you need to take legal action in the future.
There are also third-party defendants that may be liable for your injury:
- Construction Companies: If a construction company fails to address a road hazard appropriately, they may be responsible for your auto accident.
- A Vehicle Parts Manufacturer: Sometimes no party is responsible for a car crash. If you suspect that your accident resulted because of a defective part, an installment error, or a vehicle design issue, you may pursue a case against the manufacturer.
- An Employer: If a company vehicle is at fault for your accident, the driver’s employer may bear some of the blame for your injuries. In this circumstance, you may pursue compensation from the driver and their associated company.
An auto accident is traumatic enough without added uncertainty of the situation. Though hopefully, you will never have to use the information, it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with the risks of driving and find ways to prevent injury or death. It’s also important to know what to do following an auto accident so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.