Beard Vehicle Accidents – An Overview
Cases arising out of automobile accidents are by far the most common type of personal injury case pending in our court system today. This is not surprising, given that every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is involved in a car accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Except in those states where legislation eliminating fault as an issue has been passed (no-fault laws), these cases are typically governed by the law of negligence. Generally, people who operate automobiles must exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances.” A failure to use reasonable care is considered negligence. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay for any damages, either to a person or property, caused by his or her negligence. The injured party, known as the plaintiff, is required to prove that the defendant was negligent, that the negligence was a proximate caused of the accident, and that the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you must not hesitate to seek legal counsel from a personal injury attorney experienced in automobile accident cases in order to best protect your interests.
As with other types of accidents, figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was negligent. In many cases, your instincts will tell you that a driver, cyclist or pedestrian acted carelessly, but not what rule or rules that person violated. Fault issues can be complicated, and an experienced attorney will look to a number of sources, such as police reports, state traffic laws, and witnesses, to help you determine who was at fault for your accident.
Courts look to a number of factors in determining whether a driver was negligent. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- disobeying traffic signs or signals;
- failing to signal while turning;
- driving above or below the posted speed limit;
- disregarding weather or traffic conditions;
- failing to drive on the right side of the road; and
- driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Causes of Automobile Accidents
A driver may also be liable for an accident due to his or her intentional or reckless conduct. A driver who is reckless is one who drives unsafely, with “willful and wanton disregard” for the probability that such driving may cause an accident. A driver could be found reckless, for example, if he or she drives in a threatening or harassing manner out of “road rage” and causes an accident. (Criminal charges will also stem from such behavior). Road rage is defined as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”
Statistics compiled in 1997 by NHTSA and the American Automobile Association showed that almost 13,000 people had been injured or killed since 1990 in crashes caused by aggressive driving. According to a NHTSA survey, more than 60 percent of drivers consider unsafe driving by others, including speeding, a major personal threat to themselves and their families. About 30 percent of respondents said they felt their safety was threatened in the last month, while 67 percent felt this threat during the last year.
Traffic safety and law enforcement organizations are renewing efforts to identify and penalize aggressive drivers-those who speed, tailgate, zip from lane to lane, flash headlights in frustration, and engage in other dangerous driving practices. The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as a progression of unlawful driving actions such as:
- speeding-exceeding the posted limit or driving too fast for conditions;
- improper or excessive lane changing;
- failing to signal intent;
- failing to see that movement can be made safely; or
- improper passing-failing to signal intent, using an emergency lane to pass, or passing on the shoulder.