In the United States, almost everyone either owns a car or travels in one on a daily basis. We live in a very car-centered society and, unfortunately, that means car accidents are incredibly common. From simple fender benders to head on collisions, thousands of car accidents occur in the U.S. every single day.
Fortunately, if you’re hurt, or your vehicle was damaged in an auto accident, you’re not alone. When you work with the lawyers at Colombo Law, there’s no need to settle without a car accident lawyer. Our personal injury lawyers handle dozens of car accident cases each year and have helped thousands of individuals in Ohio and West Virginia get compensation for their damages and injuries.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a car accident, contact one of our attorneys to get a free consultation on what your case may be worth.
Why Do Car Accidents Happen?
By far, the number one cause of car accidents is driver negligence. This can be because the driver is distracted, under the influence, or careless. In addition to negligence, some of the most common causes of car accidents include:
- Unsafe or damaged roads
- The driver’s failure to control their vehicle
- Debris covered roadways
- Failure to properly use turn signals
- Extreme weather events
- Failure to stop
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to yield
- Manufacturer defects
Car Accident Injuries
Whiplash is the single most common physical auto accident injury we see as attorneys. Whiplash occurs when the head and neck are violently thrown forward as the result of a sudden impact. This occurs most often in rear-end collisions but can happen during head-on or side-impact collisions as well. Whiplash can leave the victim in severe pain for a few days or several months.
Other common physical injuries that can happen in a car accident include, but aren’t limited to:
- Broken bones
- Severe bruising
- Organ damage/internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck/back injuries
Experiencing a car accident can also be emotionally traumatizing. Stress and anxiety are common, but you may suffer from additional emotional anguish such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fear of driving
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Compensation After a Car Accident
If you were involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you might be able to recover damages for things like:
- Lost wages, if you have to miss work because of the accident
- Loss of earning capacity
- Medical expenses, such as doctor’s visits, prescriptions, physical therapy, and medical equipment
- Pain and suffering, to help you cope with emotional and physical trauma
- Wrongful death and funeral expenses, if a life is lost
What to Do After a Car Accident
The way you handle yourself after an accident is extremely important for your safety and the safety of others. Your actions after a car crash can also affect the outcome of your settlement or the verdict of your case if it goes to trial. It’s difficult, but you must do your best to keep calm and remember the following steps:
- Check yourself and those around you for injuries. If there are serious or life-threatening injuries, call 9-1-1 right away.
- Determine whether the vehicles involved are drivable. If they are, move them, along with any debris, to the shoulder or as far off the road as possible. If they are unsafe to drive, are on fire, or are leaking oil or gas, do not move the vehicles.
- If you have not already done so, contact emergency services. They will send police to file a report and may send other emergency responders to clean up the road or tend to injuries.
- Next, exchange insurance and contact details with the other drivers involved. You should also take this time to make some notes about the accident, including the date, time, location, and weather conditions at the time of the crash.
- Contact your insurance company, as well as the insurance company for the other parties involved, and file a claim. Be sure only to give the facts and not discuss details, opinions, or give a recorded statement until you have an attorney present.
- See if any people have witnessed the incident, and ask if they’d be willing to exchange contact information and make a statement to the police.
- While you wait for police to arrive, it may be tempting to argue with the other driver or try to place blame on them for the accident. Unfortunately, this could affect your case, so it’s best to keep your opinions to yourself until you can speak to a car accident lawyer.
- After you have spoken to the police, you should be free to leave the scene of the accident if your car is safe to drive. If not, call a tow truck or take advantage of your insurance’s towing services (if applicable) and have your car taken to a mechanic.
Car Accident Statistics in the U.S.
Millions of car accidents occur in the United States every year. They destroy property, change lives, and, in some cases, even take lives. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety collects data on car accidents each year. Take a look at the statistics for 2015, the most recent year available:
- According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the total annual cost of car accidents is 242 billion dollars.
- In 2015, 35,092 accident deaths occurred in 32,166 accidents that damaged 48,923 vehicles.
- 27 percent of the fatal accidents in 2015 can be attributed to speeding, and half of those occurred on roads with speed limits lower than 55 mph.
- More than 900 of these fatalities were children younger than 13.
- 64 percent of those killed in 2015 were vehicle occupants, 15 percent were pedestrians, 13 percent were motorcyclists, 2 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were in large trucks.
- Accident-related deaths went up 7 percent between 2014 and 2015, reaching an all-time high since 2008.
- Despite the recent increase in fatalities, car accident deaths have been on a general decline since 1975. Thanks to improved safety measures in modern vehicles, the per capita death rate is half of what it was 40 years ago.
When and Who Can You Sue After a Car Accident?
Most car accident lawsuits operate on the basis that an individual caused the accident because they were acting negligently. This could be because they were a distracted driver, a drunk driver, or because they were driving recklessly. Regardless of the reason behind the behavior, you and your attorney will need to prove negligence to reach a successful verdict.
Additionally, there are certain circumstances where you may be able to sue someone besides the driver of the other vehicle.
For instance, some car accidents occur because of manufacturer defects. If a vehicle malfunction caused your crash, you might be able to sue on the basis of either negligence or strict liability. In the case of negligence, you would have to prove that the manufacturer sold a vehicle that was known to be unsafe and dangerous to consumers. Under strict liability, you would have to show that a vehicle defect existed, that the defect caused an injury, and that the manufacturer was liable for the defect.
If the accident was caused by a damaged road or improper signage, you might have a case against the entity responsible for maintaining those things. This usually means filing a lawsuit against your local department of transportation.
Finally, if the person who caused your accident was working, you may be able to sue their employer for the damages. For example, if you were sideswiped by an 18-wheeler, you might be able to bring a case against the trucking company.
Why Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
When you’re deciding whether to hire a car accident lawyer or not, there are several things you must consider. Do you have the knowledge to get the largest settlement possible from insurance companies? Do you have the time to fight a legal battle on your own if the insurance refuses to pay what you deserve? Do you have the financial resources to fight a large insurance company in court?
If the answer to any one of these questions is no, you should seriously consider hiring a local attorney. Even if you are without insurance, and are in an accident, a car accident lawyer may be able to help. Colombo Law has locations in Morgantown, WV, Parkersburg, WV, and Columbus, OH and can help the victims of car accidents throughout West Virginia and Ohio.
Our attorneys work on a contingency basis and only charge for our services if we win your case. That means when you work with us, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Contact us to schedule a no-obligation consultation and find out how we can help you at 888-860-1414.