Common Causes of Car Accidents
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, you may have the right to seek compensation for your losses. The money you receive from your claim can pay for your medical expenses, wages you have lost from missing time at work, and even the pain and suffering you have experienced from your accident-related injuries.
When you hire an experienced car accident lawyer, one of their first tasks will be determining what caused the collision. Knowing the factors that led to the crash will help your attorney understand who is responsible for your losses. Some causes of accidents tend to implicate multiple at-fault parties, and filing a claim against everyone liable can increase your chances of recovering maximum compensation.
Most Common Causes of Car Crashes
While crashes happen for a wide variety of reasons, the most common causes of automobile collisions include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Fatigued driving
- Inclement weather
- Aggressive driving
- Running traffic lights and signs
- Failure to yield
- Improper turns
- Road hazards
Considering each of these causes in more detail can help you understand what steps to take with your claim.
Distracted driving is among the most common causes of automobile collisions. In a recent year, distracted driving caused more than 10,400 motor vehicle accidents in Indiana. Twenty percent of these crashes led to injury or death.
Indiana recognizes three categories of distractions for drivers:
- Visual – When people are learning to drive, the refrain they will hear most frequently from their instructors or parents is to keep their eyes on the road. Failure to remain visually alert will prevent a driver from seeing other road users, obstacles in the street, or changes in road conditions. Visual distractions such as looking at a cell phone screen or rubbernecking can easily lead to tragic accidents.
- Manual – Drivers should always keep their hands on the steering wheel. Manual distractions such as texting, adjusting the radio, applying makeup, or rummaging for items in the back seat can prevent motorists from maintaining complete control of their vehicles.
- Cognitive – Because driving is an everyday activity, many motorists forget it requires the mind’s full attention. Mental distractions happen when a driver’s mind wanders away from operating their vehicle. Such distractions include daydreaming, arguing with a passenger, or talking on a cell phone.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 850,000 people in the United States are driving while distracted at any given point during the day. These alarming statistics underscore the importance of holding distracted drivers accountable when their behavior leads to accidents.
Driving Under the Influence
Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating drugs is illegal in all 50 states. Nevertheless, drunk and drugged driving causes devastating accidents across the country daily. People who drive under the influence have slowed reaction times, impaired vision, and an inability to assess their circumstances. This combination has the potential to lead to catastrophic consequences.
In a recent year, drunk driving accounted for only two percent of the traffic accidents in Indiana. However, driving under the influence led to 13 percent of the state’s traffic accident fatalities. This outsized correlation illustrates the significant dangers of drunk driving. Those who suffer injuries or lose loved ones in drug- or alcohol-related collisions deserve an opportunity to seek justice for their losses.
As with drunk driving, drivers who get behind the wheel when tired put other road users’ safety at risk. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a lack of sufficient sleep or spending too many hours on the road can lead to slower reaction times, poor coordination, and impaired judgment. As such, a drowsy driver can easily run a red light or rear-end the car in front of them. When a motorist is particularly sleep deprived, they may even risk falling asleep at the wheel and driving into oncoming traffic.
If you suspect that a drowsy driver was responsible for your accident-related injuries, an experienced Indiana car accident lawyer can work to hold them accountable. If the accident happened due to a tired truck driver, your Indianapolis truck accident attorney could also help you determine whether the trucking company bears liability. If the evidence indicates that the trucker’s employer pushed drivers to exceed the permissible number of working hours, you may also be eligible to file a claim against them.
Poor weather conditions often play a substantial role in causing automobile accidents. However, if you have suffered injuries in a weather-related car accident, you might wonder how you can qualify for a compensation claim. After all, you can’t file a lawsuit against a blizzard!
The answer to this question is that all drivers are responsible for taking extra precautions when operating their vehicles in inclement weather. If someone drives their car 60 miles per hour in snowy or icy conditions, they must take proper care. If their behavior leads to an accident, they could bear legal responsibility for any losses related to the collision.
Furthermore, government entities are responsible for clearing snow and ice promptly from the roads. If a municipality, county, or state failed to act when they knew or should have known that a storm had created unsafe road conditions, you could hold them accountable for your injuries.
The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as endangering other people or property by committing a combination of moving traffic violations. These violations tend to occur because of the driver’s anger or frustration.
While all motorists occasionally lose their patience or get frustrated behind the wheel, allowing these emotions to take over can endanger other people’s lives.
Signs of aggressive driving include:
- Changing lanes erratically
- Driving on the road’s shoulder or median
- Accelerating suddenly
- Ignoring traffic signs and signals
- Failing to use turn signals
- Ignoring the speed limit
- Making improper turns
You have the right to file a claim against a driver who was driving aggressively if their actions led to your injuries.
Many motorists casually accept that exceeding the speed limit is permissible. However, speed limits exist to keep people safe on the road. Collisions at high speeds can inflict serious injuries on those involved and may lead to fatalities.
Recent statistics from the NHTSA show that exceeding the speed limit caused more than a quarter of all fatal accidents across the country in one year. Survivors of speeding accidents often suffer life-altering injuries such as brain damage, paralysis, or severe disfigurement. In addition to the physical and psychological pain you may experience because of these conditions, you may also face overwhelming financial stress because these injuries often require intensive and long-term medical attention. Furthermore, you might be unable to return to your previous job.
If a speeding accident injured you, a skilled car accident lawyer could help you pursue significant compensation for your losses.
Running Traffic Lights and Signs
Intersections are among the most dangerous places on the road. One reason for this danger is drivers’ ambivalence about what to do when they see a yellow traffic light. Many motorists believe they should hurry through a yellow light to avoid stopping when the light quickly turns red. However, this behavior can injure other drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians who have the right to expect that they will have clear passage when their traffic signals indicate that they can proceed.
Intersections with stop signs instead of traffic lights can also present significant dangers. Some accidents happen when a driver does not stop at the sign. Others occur when the motorist stops but then fails to see another vehicle entering the intersection. If this failure of judgment leads to an accident, an injury victim has the right to file a car accident claim against the other driver.
However, the other driver might not bear sole liability for accident-related injuries. Local authorities and road agencies are responsible for keeping stop signs and traffic signals free from visual obstacles such as tree branches and shrubs. You might be eligible to file a claim against a government agency if they failed to address such a problem.
Failure to Yield
Many intersections and junctions across Indiana do not have stop signs or signals. These locations require drivers to remember who has priority in a given situation and to use their judgment wisely. Drivers who fail to yield to a vehicle with the right-of-way can cause multi-car accidents.
Failure to yield accidents can have devastating consequences for cyclists and pedestrians. Many motorists need to pay more attention to individuals traveling by foot or bicycle. When a driver does not stop at a crosswalk or yield the right-of-way to a cyclist, they put these vulnerable road users at risk of severe harm.
Drivers who do not yield to others who have the right-of-way are almost always liable for resulting accidents.
Turns are among the maneuvers that most commonly lead to car accidents on the roads of Indiana. The risk of a crash increases dramatically when a driver fails to employ turn signals or when they execute a turn from the wrong lane.
Left turns are particularly dangerous. When a driver turns left into oncoming traffic, they must take care and remain alert. Otherwise, they risk causing catastrophic T-bone collisions.
Motorists have the right to expect that other drivers will exercise care when performing a turn. If your injuries occurred because of another driver’s improper turn, a car accident attorney could help you hold them liable for their actions.
Debris, potholes, and other road hazards present a significant danger on roads across the United States. Drivers have the right to expect that they will receive adequate warnings about dangerous road conditions. Yet, roadway authorities do not always provide the necessary alerts. Sometimes, they fail to perform the maintenance or repairs required to keep roads safe.
Common road hazards that can lead to automobile accidents include:
- Improperly placed maintenance hole covers
- Cracked or crumbling road shoulders
- Sudden changes in the road surface
- Worn or nonexistent lane markings or road signs
- Oil spills
- Fallen cargo
- Visual obstructions
If a government agency failed to act when it knew or should have known about these hazards, you can file a compensation claim against them. If another party or entity was responsible for the threat, such as a trucking company that did not secure its cargo correctly, you might also have an opportunity to file a claim against them.
An Experienced Car Accident Attorney Will Fight for Your Rights
Suffering injuries in a car accident is often shocking and traumatic. When those injuries result from another party’s negligence, recklessness, or harmful actions, you may feel a sense of injustice in addition to your physical pain. You should not have to shoulder the financial consequences of an accident.
Filing a claim against the at-fault party can help you recover money for losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages due to missed time at work
- Property damage
- Reduced earning capacity
- The cost of home cleaning or childcare assistance if your injuries prevent you from performing these tasks
- Pain and suffering
- Disability and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Furthermore, if you lost your loved one in a car accident, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. You may receive compensation for funeral and burial costs, lost income for dependents, and loss of companionship.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you get the best outcome in your case by:
- Investigating the crash to determine who is liable for your injuries
- Gathering crucial evidence to build a robust case
- Identifying all possible sources of compensation
- Calculating the value of your financial and personal losses
- Communicating with the insurance companies and other parties on your behalf
- Filing the necessary paperwork for an insurance claim or lawsuit
- Negotiating with insurers for a fair settlement
- Taking your case to trial, if necessary, to pursue the maximum compensation
No matter the cause of the wreck that injured you, contact a good Indianapolis personal injury attorney who can you get the justice you deserve.