Auto Accidents: An Overview
In the United States, car accidents have become an unfortunate part of day to day life. There is not much that a person can do to avoid the many dangers on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), someone in the U.S. is involved in a traffic accident every 10 seconds. In recent years, more than 6,100,000 traffic accident reports are filed with police across the nation each year. As a result of these accidents, more than 2.5 million people are injured every year and tragically, about 50,000 lose there lives. On average, one person is killed every 12 minutes due to a car crash. Reports also indicate that many of those killed in traffic accidents are in the prime of their lives. In fact, drivers under the age of 25 have had the highest rate of involvement in fatal crashes of any age group. In addition, data shows that alcohol is involved in almost 20,000 traffic fatalities a year, reflecting roughly 40% of all motor vehicle related fatalities. This means that every 31 minutes, someone is killed in an accident involving alcohol. Most of the drivers responsible for these accidents are between the ages of 21 and 24, accounting for more than 30% of all alcohol related fatalities.
Alcohol is not the only factor which increases the risk of death on the road. Speeding has been involved in 30% of all vehicle accident fatalities. Such fatalities seem to have a direct correlation with age as the rate of accidents that are speeding related declines as the age group increases. The economic cost to society of these speeding-related crashes is estimated by NHTSA to be about $40.4 billion per year.
Other factors such as inattentive driving, distracted driving, and aggressive driving are all problems that also must be solved. Possibly the most problematic of these additional factors is the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving. As more and more individuals use cell phones to communicate with friends and family on the road, the number of traffic related accidents will increase. Many states, including California, are considering bills that would ban individuals from using electronic equipment while driving. At least 15 states in the nation have already passed such bills. Whether an accident occurs due to speeding, alcohol, or even text messaging, car crashes continue to be a significant threat to human life.
Drivers on American roadways however, are not the only individuals affected. On average, in a single year, approximately 5,000 pedestrians die from traffic-related injuries, and another 65,000 sustain non-fatal injuries. Pedestrians are not the only non-motorists at risk while on the road. An additional 1,000 are killed and 45,000 are injured on a yearly basis. Cyclists account for 2% of all U.S. road deaths and injuries. Almost 20% of these injuries and fatalities involve children under the age of 15. In addition to those who sadly lose their lives in a traffic related accident, there are also the families and friends of drivers, passengers, pedestrians to consider. These individuals suffer tremendous emotional stress from sharing the loss or injury of a loved one.
When an individual is injured in a car accident, there is a chance, depending on the circumstances that he or she may have a claim for negligence. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay any damages to person and property caused by their negligence. A claimant may even be able to recover past or future earnings lost as a result of the injuries. Generally speaking, vehicle operators are required to exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances.” Failure to abide by this standard, provides the legal grounds for damages in most lawsuits involving a traffic injury.
There are some cases where the accidents are caused by factors unrelated to the conduct of any particular driver. For example, a driver´s tire may be defective, causing the driver to veer off into oncoming traffic. In such an instance, the law of product liability would govern the outcome. Product liability law encompasses the responsibility an automobile manufacturer or supplier may have for injuries caused by a defect in the automobile or automobile component. A products liability suit is a lawsuit brought against the manufacturer of a product for the defective development, design, manufacture, or labeling of the product. Where a defect is shown, the maker may be liable for any injuries caused by the product.
In all automobile accident cases, it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of an automobile accident, call Dover Law Firm now at 770-518-1133.