Vehicle collisions are the reason for the majority of personal injury lawsuits in the US. This is not surprising as there were more than five million reports vehicle collisions in 2012, according to the NHTSA.
Legal claims that come from vehicle collisions are based upon negligence laws. Usually, people who operate motor vehicles are required to exercise ‘reasonable care.’ If they do not use reasonable care, this is considered to be negligence. Anyone who operates a vehicle in a negligent manner and causes a vehicle collision could be required to pay damages that were done to a person or property that was caused by that negligence.
Negligence and Vehicle Collisions
As with most accidents, determining who was at fault in a vehicle collision is a matter of finding out who was negligent. In many situations, you may think that a driver acted in a careless fashion, but you may not be aware of the rules that were violated. A personal injury attorney can help by looking at several sources to determine who was at fault for the vehicle collision, such as the police report, traffic laws for that area, and any witnesses.
Courts look at several factors to find out if a driver was negligent. Some of the factors that can be involved in determining negligence for a vehicle collision are:
- Not obeying a traffic sign or signal
- Not signaling when making a turn
- Driving above or below the speed limit that is posted
- Not paying attention to weather or traffic factors
- Driving while intoxicated
Most Common Causes of Vehicle Collisions
Many people are surprised to learn about the most common causes of vehicle collisions. The most common general cause is reckless driving. A driver can be found liable for an accident because of his intentional reckless conduct. A driver who drives in a reckless manner is one that drives unsafely and has a clear disregard for the likelihood that the driving can cause an accident. According to the NHTSA, aggressive driving is defined as various unlawful driving actions, including:
- Speeding well above the speed limit that is posted, or driving too fast for current conditions. Know that even if you are driving at the speed limit, doing so during adverse weather conditions can lead to a reckless driving charge.
- Changing lanes excessively or improperly, including not signaling your intent, and failing to check that your lane change can be made in a safe manner.
- Passing improperly, such as failing to signal your intent and using the shoulder, emergency lane or median to pass
The next most common reason for vehicle collisions is drunk driving. Did you know that someone dies in a crash related to alcohol consumption every 51 minutes in the US? Just in the last year, it is estimated that more than one million people were hurt in a traffic crash related to alcohol.
It is important to know that in some states, not only can the intoxicated driver be held liable for damages in a vehicle collision. The bar or social host that served the alcohol could also be held liable; this is known as a Dram Shop law. The fact that the person or business who served the drunk driver could be held liable will not relieve the drunk driver of liability, though.
Other Reasons for Vehicle Collisions
There also are some personal injury claims and lawsuits that can be caused by other factors. For instance, a vehicle collision can happen because of a defect in a vehicle. In this situation, the car manufacturer or supplier may be liable for injuries that were caused by the defect in the car according to the laws of product liability.
Other factors also can lead to a vehicle collision and liability. For example, a poorly maintained road or a malfunctioning traffic light can cause an accident. Factors such as improper road design, construction, maintenance, lighting, signage or highway defects can also cause vehicle collisions and injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle collision, you should have your case reviewed by a qualified personal injury attorney in your state. Use the attorney finder at Lawsuit Info Center to help you find an attorney near you.