Most people do not spend their days thinking about the risks of driving a car. You might get behind the wheel without pausing to consider the danger—even though more than 38,000 people die and roughly 4.4 million suffer injuries on United States roads each year.
Our car accident lawyers discuss the most common types of auto accidents and how you can stay safe on the road.
A T-bone collision occurs when one car drives straight into the side of another, forming a “T” shape.
T-bone collisions occur most often in intersections and may happen for many reasons:
- A distracted driver fails to notice an intersection or that a light has changed.
- A driver chooses to ignore a red light or stop sign to hurry through an intersection.
- A driver tries a rolling stop without paying adequate attention to other vehicles.
- A driver fails to notice another car already in the intersection.
T-bone collisions may also occur because of mechanical defects: for example, brake failure as a driver approaches an intersection could result in a T-bone collision with a vehicle already in the roadway.
Rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle hits another from behind. Often, rear-end collisions result in significant injuries even at low speeds since they transfer a massive jolt of force through the car.
Rear-end collisions frequently occur due to driver distraction. For example, a distracted driver may not see another vehicle in front of him and crash when traffic stops abruptly. Rear-end collisions may also occur due to tailgating: when one driver drives far too close to the car in front of him without maintaining a safe stopping distance. Finally, rear-end collisions may also result from brake failures. A driver whose brakes fail may not be able to stop their car.
However, the rear driver does not always bear liability for rear-end collisions. Sometimes, the front vehicle may accidentally reverse or roll into the rear driver, causing severe damage and injury. Drivers may even back up deliberately to try to cause an accident. In many cases, carefully examining evidence from the scene, including traffic camera or dashcam footage, can help establish liability for the incident.
When two parallel cars collide, it is called a sideswipe. A distracted driver who looks down at her phone and drifts into an adjacent lane can easily sideswipe another vehicle.
Sideswipe collisions also often occur when a vehicle needs to merge or change lanes. Some drivers have difficulty gauging traffic flow and fail to leave adequate room to change lanes. Sideswipe collisions may also occur when a driver falls asleep at the wheel or loses focus due to sleep deprivation. A sideswipe collision can also result from steering problems, especially during turns, since a driver with a sudden steering problem may be unable to maneuver safely.
Head-on collisions can cause massive destruction since they usually involve the combined force of both vehicles. If a driver drifts into another lane because of drowsiness, drunk driving, or intoxication, he could easily crash into a car moving in the opposite direction. Due to the extra force generated in a head-on collision, parties in both vehicles may have severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. These debilitating injuries can permanently alter a victim’s life.
Usually, the driver outside his lane bears liability in a head-on collision. However, head-on collisions resulting from mechanical failure may leave the vehicle manufacturer liable for the accident.
Rideshare drivers help passengers travel safely to their destinations by picking them up and taking them where they need to go. Many people consider ridesharing a safe option, especially when traveling around an unfamiliar city at odd hours, going out to clubs, or coming into town from the airport.
Rideshare drivers, however, usually do not receive any more training than the average passenger vehicle driver, nor do they need any additional certifications or proof of their training. As a result of the extended hours they often spend driving, rideshare drivers may fall into bad habits, including speeding, cutting corners, or driving while distracted. Furthermore, some rideshare drivers continue operating a vehicle even while exhausted, further increasing the potential for an accident.
Fortunately, rideshare drivers usually have insurance provided through their employers. Both Uber and Lyft, for example, offer high-value insurance policies that provide coverage for passengers in accidents. That insurance kicks in whenever the rideshare driver causes an accident.
However, the high value of these policies means that the insurance company may fight harder to reduce any compensation it has to pay. Furthermore, if a third party caused the accident, rideshare accident claims can become even more complicated. In that case, you may need to pursue compensation through the other driver’s insurance company. Having a lawyer on your side can be crucial when filing a rideshare accident claim.
Big trucks deliver goods across the United States and provide extensive, essential resources to many people in between. While big truck drivers receive more training than the average driver of a passenger vehicle, truck drivers often spend long hours driving each day. Even though big trucks make up a relatively small percentage of the vehicles on the nation’s highways, truck drivers are involved in a high percentage of accidents. Furthermore, big trucks may cause significantly more damage than passenger vehicles.
Determining liability in a big truck accident can be difficult. Sometimes, the truck driver’s negligence, including speeding, distraction, or drowsiness, causes the accident. However, the truck driver alone may not bear liability for the accident.
A truck accident investigation may involve looking into the driver’s records and the trucking company to determine:
- The driver’s history, including any past accident history
- The company’s policies and records
- Whether the driver exceeded the number of hours he could spend driving during his shift
- The type of cargo in the truck
- Who loaded the cargo, and whether the company loaded that cargo properly
- How often the truck received maintenance, including any reports of problems with the vehicle and the steps taken to fix them
A full investigation into a truck accident can help uncover whether the truck driver’s company may share liability for the accident. The investigation may also indicate liability on the part of the company that loaded the truck, especially when a shifting or falling load causes a severe accident.
Parking Lot Accidents
Parking lots can be dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians. In parking lots, lanes do not always have clear markings, and drivers may not know where to drive. Furthermore, some drivers may become aggressive over parking spaces—especially when finding a space during high-traffic times.
Who bears liability for a parking lot accident depends on the situation. Cars in parking lots need to move at a much slower rate of speed than on the road. A speeding driver might bear liability for an accident caused by driving fast, especially if the speeding driver slams into a stationary vehicle or a pedestrian. If a driver backing out of a parking space fails to look behind them, this can also cause an accident.
In cases of conflicts over parking spaces, the driver who does not have the right of way may bear liability. However, consulting with an attorney will help you figure out who had the right of way in a parking lot accident.
Inebriated drivers endanger everyone who shares the road with them. Sometimes, you can see clear signs of the other driver’s intoxication: you may notice a driver who seems to swerve all over the road or take dangerous chances. Conversely, you may see a driver traveling exceptionally slowly, not keeping up with the traffic flow.
Other times, a driver may appear drunk when you stop after a collision. The driver may be belligerent, stumble and stagger while walking, or have difficulty forming coherent sentences. While other conditions, including head trauma during the accident, can mimic the signs of drunkenness, look out for indicators of intoxication.
While you should note the other driver’s intoxication, remember that liability for a car accident usually depends on the driver’s actions that cause or contribute to the accident. Even if the driver does not receive a drunk driving citation, you may still have grounds to pursue a car accident claim.
After any car accident, especially one that results in property damage or injury, you need to take steps to protect yourself. First, call 911 for medical attention if necessary. Many car accident victims think they have escaped the accident without serious injury, only to discover later that they sustained much more severe injuries than they thought.
Then, report the accident. Wait at the scene for the police to arrive so that you will have an official report.
Finally, get in touch with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon after the incident as possible. A car accident lawyer can help explain who may bear liability for the accident. They can give you an idea of how much compensation you should expect for your injuries. A car accident lawyer can also help you manage your insurance claim.
Do you have questions about your car accident? Do you believe that you deserve compensation but need help with your next steps? Contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your rights after a car accident.