Every day, there are dozens of car accidents caused by negligence. Drivers in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas must drive carefully and be aware of accident scenarios that could arise. Moreover, these drivers must know what to do if they are involved in an accident, file an insurance claim, or must file a claim against an at-fault driver or third party.
Anyone who gets behind the wheel could be hurt in an accident, and their passengers are also susceptible to injuries during these crashes. Although every accident is unique, drivers must understand how to cope with their circumstances and contact a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Many car accidents are not accidents at all, and victims who have been injured or lost loved ones can file a claim for compensation. Everyone who caused the accident can be held accountable for their negligence.
Which Types of Vehicle Accidents are Most Common?
Car accidents come in all shapes and sizes. Drivers should give these situations some consideration. Reviewing these accident scenarios and understanding what causes them can help prevent injuries and/or deaths in the future.
Accidents at an angle: Accidents that occur at an angle are most often caused by a driver who is turning and does not see oncoming traffic. These accidents can occur as drivers exit parking lots, enter parking lots, enter the road, or turn left at an intersection. The two cars collide at an angle instead of head on. Drivers should take an extra moment to check for any oncoming cars before turning.
Rear-end accidents: Rear-end accidents can be prevented in most cases if drivers pay more attention to what is happening on the road. Traffic slows down quickly, and distracted drivers often cause rear-end crashes because they cannot complete an emergency stop. These crashes can become even more severe if the victim’s vehicle is pushed into another car during the accident, causing a multi-vehicle accident.
Single-vehicle accidents: Single-vehicle accidents often involve trees, power poles, and lamp posts. Single-vehicle accidents might also include any driver who has run off the road and struck a traffic sign, guardrail, or embankment. Even though these accidents involve just one vehicle, they may have been caused by a negligent driver who made an unsafe lane change or pushed the victim off the road. Debris left behind by construction crews or even the blowout from a large truck’s tire may be enough to force a driver into a single-vehicle accident.
Side-impact accidents: Side-impact accidents include T-bone crashes, sideswipes, or accidents caused when cars are merging onto the roadway. Drivers are most often involved in T-bone accidents at intersections or when turning right to merge with traffic. Sideswipes occur when drivers change lanes and do not see the other vehicle. Merging crashes occur when a vehicle is entering the highway from a ramp and does not yield before merging into oncoming traffic. Motorists who are allowed to turn right at intersections may also drive into oncoming traffic and cause a crash.
Rollovers: Information gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that about 75 percent of rollover crashes occur on rural roads. These roads are not divided, and they often have steep drops that will cause a vehicle to roll. Additionally, 90 percent of rollovers have been shown to occur while the driver is executing a normal driving maneuver. This means that distracted, impaired, or reckless drivers are more likely to cause these accidents simply because they were not attentive. It has been reported that 40 percent of rollovers involved speeding, and half of all fatal rollovers involved intoxicated drivers. Tall vehicles such as SUVs, vans, and trucks are more likely to roll over because of an elevated center of gravity.
Hit and run accidents: Hit and run accidents occur any time the at-fault driver leaves the scene. If a driver stops and discusses the accident with the victim, they might still leave the scene before the police arrive or the victim can identify them. The driver who is hit should try to take a picture of the fleeing driver’s license plate and/or get their name. If the driver speeds away while the accident is still happening, someone should get a good look at their license plate or ask eyewitnesses if they can identify the vehicle or driver.
Parking accidents: Parking accidents often include scraping against another vehicle while parking, not noticing someone who is exiting a spot, and not seeing a car that is passing through the lot. Drivers must slow down and abide by speed limits posted in parking lots. Additionally, drivers should follow the arrows painted on the asphalt that indicate which way traffic should flow.
Even though accidents often occur at low speeds, they can still result in compensable injuries. Victims should speak to a car accident lawyer to review how the accident occurred and how compensation should be recovered.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Car accidents occur due to the following factors:
Speeding: Speeding is a factor in approximately one-fourth of all car accidents in the United States. Drivers can help reduce the risk of car accidents by slowing down. Drivers often do not realize how fast they are going. If drivers give themselves more time to arrive at their destination, they are less likely to be involved in accidents.
Approximately 25 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on rural roads. People living in rural areas may believe they can walk or bike safely on or near the road because the area is not congested. Drivers on these roads must slow down and look out for anyone who might be on the road or riding the shoulder. Additionally, rural roads are often viewed as safe places for children to ride their bikes or walk. Because children are so small, drivers must slow down even more to ensure that they can see them.
Drinking and driving: Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are serious and can lead to a suspended or revoked license and even jail time. Some drivers believe they can get home safely because they are traveling only a few miles. Although these drivers may have driven while impaired in the past without causing an accident, it only takes one mistake to cause a crash and potentially kill someone. In some of the worst cases, the driver will fall asleep behind the wheel. Using a designated driver is wise. Alternately, someone who has been drinking can call a taxi or use a ridesharing service to get home.
Distracted driving: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving kills nine people every day in the United States. Employing a hands-free system is a safer way to use a cell phone while driving. The driver can take calls, use speech-to-text features for emails or text messages, and listen to navigation instructions without touching the phone. Distracted drivers might also be rubbernecking on the road, where drivers are looking at an accident scene, someone who has been pulled over, or other situation on the road that distracts them from driving. Other distracting driving habits include fiddling with the radio, personal grooming, attending to children, and engaging in conversations with passengers.
Reckless behavior: Reckless drivers are responsible for 33 percent of all fatal accidents. Certain drivers will cut across several lanes on the highway, cut off other drivers to change lanes, or take major risks just to get off the highway or make a turn they might have missed. Reckless behavior is completely within the control of the driver. Anyone who is upset or rushing to get somewhere must slow down and remain calm. In some situations, a passenger can take the wheel.
Victims can contact a car accident lawyer when any of these accidents occur. Injured drivers or passengers can provide evidence showing that another driver was intoxicated, distracted, reckless, or possibly speeding.
What Happens After an Accident?
After an accident, drivers and passengers should exit the vehicle if they can do so safely and get off the road. Motorists can check on their passengers or others involved in the accident, if possible. A driver should not apologize for the accident or reveal any information. Other drivers or passengers might misinterpret what is said. A police officer might hear this apology and assume that the driver caused the accident. Additionally, insurance information needs to be shared with other drivers so that everyone is aware of who was present at the accident.
Police officers do not complete a full investigation of every crash. Generally, they fill out a chart that shows how the accident scene looked, take statements, and determine who caused the accident very quickly. A lawyer can dispute the findings in the police report, interview eyewitnesses, and/or collect evidence from the scene.
If drivers or passengers are able, they should take pictures of the accident scene because the vehicles and debris will be removed from the scene soon after. If an eyewitness comes forward to help, they should be asked for their contact information. Eyewitnesses can also speak to the family’s lawyer.
Someone should call 911 so that anyone on the scene can receive medical attention. Although some drivers and passengers may believe they are not injured, they need to be checked out by a doctor first. Severe pain and additional symptoms brought on by injuries may manifest later. Victims can ask a car accident lawyer for assistance with any claims related to the accident.
Commonly Overlooked Car Accident Injuries
Obvious injuries after car accidents include open head wounds, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and burns. Anyone who suffers these injuries needs immediate medical attention. As mentioned, someone should call 911, and accident victims can be checked out by an EMT or be taken to the hospital.
Closed head injuries: If a driver’s seat belt fails and their head hits the windshield, they may not have any scrapes or cuts. This driver, however, may have suffered a closed head injury. The driver has been injured, but there are no obvious signs. Closed head injuries include concussions and contusions. The driver might have even suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) without seeing any physical symptoms.
Everyone who is involved in an accident should see a doctor. This is the best time to have an MRI or other imaging performed to show if any head injuries occurred. If the victims do not have any tests performed, they could experience headaches, memory loss, nausea, and even a feeling of floating without knowing they were seriously hurt.
Whiplash: Whiplash involves a sudden jolt of the head and neck during an accident. These injuries can occur at low speeds, and drivers or passengers might walk away feeling a bit tender but showing no physical symptoms. Whiplash will involve neck and shoulder pain that makes it difficult to sit up straight, work, or sleep. Additionally, whiplash may last for months before it subsides. In some cases, the victim never fully recovers. Accident victims cannot go home, take over-the-counter medication, or sleep off a whiplash diagnosis. A doctor should be seen to get a proper diagnosis and learn about available treatment options.
Bursitis: Bursitis can be caused by the severe jolts of car accidents. Bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid in sacs near the body’s joints. When this fluid is inflamed, the joints grind more than they normally would. Some accident victims assume this is a result of aging or some other condition they may have suffered from in the past. This is not always the case.
TMJ injuries: The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) holds the jaw to the skull. In many people, this joint wears down over time, causing pain while chewing or speaking. Because a car accident typically includes violent impact, the joint could be damaged. If the victim suffered a head injury, it is even more likely that they also sustained damage to this joint.
When these overlooked injuries occur, drivers or passengers should seek medical care and reach out to a car accident lawyer to discuss their options for litigation.
What is a Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit?
When insurance companies agree to cover their customers, they plan to pay as little as possible. Insurance companies pay their lawyers a lot of money to ensure that policyholders and accident victims are not covered properly. As the insurance company is fighting against accident victims, a car accident lawyer will work to see that all claims are paid appropriately.
When the insurance company has gone out of its way to deny coverage, it could be subjected to a bad faith insurance lawsuit. A bad faith insurance lawsuit claims that the carrier has done the following:
Denied valid claims
Laid the burden of proof on the victim
Defrauded victims who believed they were covered
Victims need to consult with a lawyer immediately when it is clear the insurance company is acting in bad faith. Bad faith efforts by the insurance company to save money could result in further injuries or even death.
Can a Victim Hire a Lawyer at Any Time?
Accident victims often believe they have no chance of winning or do not want to go through the trouble of hiring a lawyer. Some victims do not understand their options or how the claims process works. These accident victims might be defrauded by their insurance companies and not realize it. When an accident occurs, the victim should contact a car accident lawyer immediately. The lawyer can review the case to determine its validity and continue to collect evidence if they believe they have a strong case.
Some car accident victims might have hired the wrong lawyer or tried to represent themselves. Even if the victim is in the midst of settlement negotiations or litigation, they can contact a lawyer for assistance. If the victim’s current lawyer is not making progress in the case, the victim can replace them immediately. Victims should hire a lawyer who has several years of experience in the industry and understands how car accidents should be investigated and litigated.
Which Forms of Compensation can Victims Receive?
When accident victims or their families file suit to recover compensation, they may opt for a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits are used to recover lost income, lost earning potential, medical expenses, estate administration costs, burial expenses, the family’s pain and suffering, as well as possible punitive damages.
It is important to note that the executor of the deceased’s estate or an immediate family member, such as a parent, spouse, or child, must file this lawsuit. Any damages awarded are divided according to state intestacy laws while giving priority to the spouse and children, closely followed by the parents.
Personal injury lawsuits use the same evidence that would be collected for a wrongful death suit. Medical bills are calculated by a doctor, and the doctor can submit a statement explaining how much the patient’s recovery will cost. Lost income can be calculated, and paystubs will note how much the victim could have earned had they not been hurt.
In general, punitive damages should not be more than 10 times what was awarded in the lawsuit. A car accident lawyer will do the math to ensure that their client receives the exact compensation they deserve. When that final number is tallied, it can be used in settlement negotiations or in court to provide the client with a judgment that helps them move past the accident. These civil actions may also be combined with recommended criminal charges imposed by local authorities against the at-fault driver or entity.
Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Advocate for Victims of Car Accidents
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, speak to the Pittsburgh car accident lawyersat AlpernSchubert P.C. today. We will review your case and determine the compensation you are due. As experienced legal advisers, we can help you with every aspect of your claim. Call us at 412-765-1888or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve car accident victims across Western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.
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Moving on after an injury, whether it came from another’s negligence or a workplace accident, is a daunting task. Indifferent insurance companies seldom offer any consolation, and growing medical bills and time spent out of work can seriously impact the lives of you and your loved ones.
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