Why Car Accidents HappenWhen you suffer injuries in an accident or lose a loved one in an accident, you often wonder what you or your loved one could have done to avoid the collision. In many cases, the accident happens so quickly that you do not have time to react. Maybe it’s not even your fault. Many accidents are due to someone’s negligent behavior, such as distracted driving or excessive speeding. For example, if someone is driving erratically at an excessive speed and loses control, by the time your mind takes that second to register what is going on, it’s already too late—or if you can move in time, traffic around you prevents you from getting out of the way. But it’s really the other driver’s responsibility to drive safely to begin with. When the other driver fails in his or her obligation to safely share the road, a car accident lawyer from Abels & Annes can help determine if you have a legal case to pursue compensation.
Causes of Car AccidentsAccording to the Insurance Information Institute, 36,560 people died in one year in vehicle crashes, and 1,984,000 suffered injuries. Of those deaths, 1,031 were in Illinois. The Insurance Information Institute found that the most common cause of car accidents was speeding, which includes driving over the posted speed limit, racing, and driving too fast for conditions. These conditions caused 8,856 people to lose their lives. If the speed limit is 50 miles per hour, and snow or rain covers the road, 50 miles per hour may constitute driving too fast for conditions. No state posts speed limits for conditions—people must use their best judgment to determine the safest speed, and some people just do not make good judgment calls. When this happens, they may incur liability to the people they injure. The second most common reason for car accident fatalities was driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and medications. These actions caused 5,507 people to lose their lives. Failing to stay in the proper lane and failure to give the right of way caused 3,826 and 3,711 deaths, respectively. Eating while driving, talking on the phone, looking at a passenger, and other distractions caused 2,994 deaths, while careless driving caused 2,961 deaths. Additional causes included:
- Not stopping for an officer directing traffic, signals, and/or traffic signs caused 2,095 deaths.
- Driving recklessly and/or erratically caused 1,996 deaths.
- Overcorrecting caused 1,837 deaths.
- Road glare, buildings, lights, trees, snow, and rain obscuring vision caused 1,581 deaths.
- People who fell asleep at the wheel, who drove fatigued, suffered a medical condition, or blacked out caused 1,306 deaths.
- People driving on the wrong side of the road or the wrong way on a one-way street caused 1,187 deaths.
- Drivers who swerved to avoid something in the road or crashed because of a slippery surface or the wind caused 1,103 deaths.
- Finally, those making improper turns caused 498 deaths.
Avoiding Car AccidentsYou can significantly lower your risk of getting into a car accident when you:
- Always drive at a speed that is safe for conditions, and never more than the speed limit. Fog, rain, high winds, snow, and sleet are also reasons to drive less than the speed limit.
- Always know what is going on at least 100 feet in front of you. While driving, some people look at what is directly in front of them, not what is ahead or to the sides. You are more apt to cause an accident or not have the ability to avoid an accident if you are not looking far enough ahead of you. You’ll also have time to avoid trash, wood, or other items that fall off a vehicle.
- Know where blind spots are on vehicles, especially tractor-trailer trucks, and avoid lingering in them.
- If you see someone driving erratically in front of you, slow down to put some distance between you. If you are on a highway and have to pass, do so with extreme caution, and prepare to take evasive measures.
- Look twice at stop signs—and make sure you know how a four-way stop works. Some people got that question wrong on their driving test, or they just don’t care. If you watch out for these people, you could avoid an accident.
What to Do After an AccidentIf you are in an accident and can move without doing additional damage to yourself, check on the others involved and call first responders. Get the other driver’s contact, registration, and insurance information. You should also get the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. If you have a camera with you, take photos of the accident from all angles. Get pictures of any skid marks and damaged property. Allow the EMTs to check you out. Even if you believe you only sustained minor injuries, always see your doctor or seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Some injuries manifest hours, or even days, later. Finally, call a car accident lawyer. Never attempt to handle your claim or settle with the insurance company yourself. You’ll more than likely get a lower amount—if the insurance company doesn’t just deny your claim. Also, if you call the insurance company to notify it of a claim, give it only your name, the other driver’s information, relevant policy numbers, and your attorney’s contact information. That being said, we strongly recommend that you let your attorney contact insurance on your behalf. Insurance companies want to reduce payouts as much as possible, because paying claims cuts into their profits. The companies often twist your words so that they can reduce a potential settlement amount or deny your claim. A car accident attorney from Abels & Annes can help you avoid these obstacles to securing the compensation you deserve.
Abels & Annes, P.C. 100 N LaSalle St #1710 Chicago, IL 60602 (312) 924-7575