Car accidents are often devastating enough to cause injuries and deaths, but for some reason, they are still fairly common in American roads, as if people are not doing enough to prevent them from happening.
The accidents are even worse if they have been caused by negligent or reckless parties and have injured innocent motorists and pedestrians. Usually, this party is another driver, a designer or manufacturer of a vehicle or its parts, a construction company, or a local government.
The driver is the one controlling the car, so it is not surprising that he is one of the most common causes of car accidents. The worst drivers are those who drive while drunk, under the influence of drugs, or fatigued. But those who are reckless on the road, such as those who speed, street race, and tailgate, are not any better.
There are times where even the most diligent drivers get involved in accidents because of the incompetence of the designer or manufacturer of their cars or their parts, like when airbags fail to deploy properly, brakes do not do their one job, doors don’t latch fully, seatbelts don’t properly restrain car occupants, or tires give in.
Even a safe driver with a car free of defects can be involved in an accident, and this is because of another external factor â€“ the condition of the road. The construction company may be responsible for the construction and design of the road, so if the road has construction and design problems that have caused accidents, it may be held liable. The most common problems include dangerously abrupt turns, overly narrow lanes and shoulders, and use of weak materials that make the road too vulnerable to defects.
Another entity that can be held liable for road defects is the local government. Most of the time, it is the one handling the maintenance of the roads in its area of responsibility, so any maintenance problem that results into a car accident is on them. The most common maintenance problems include defective traffic lights and road signs, overgrowth that may influence visibility, debris that is not properly cleaned up, and pavement defects such as potholes.
What to Do
Prevention will always be better than cure. But if an accident does happen, the website of Mazin & Associates, PC, has enumerated the things you can do, including contacting authorities for help and making sure to get important information such as name and phone number of involved motorists.
Thousands of Car Accidents Still being caused by Drunk Drivers
Driving while under the influence (DUI) of illegal drugs or alcohol is totally illegal due to the big risk it puts other motorists and pedestrians into. Long before actually getting to sit behind the wheel of their own car, drivers have long learned that drinking and driving are a very dangerous combination.
The author of One for the Road, a book that looks at the grassroots of drunk driving in the U.S., says that love of drinking and love of driving are both deeply rooted in the nation’s culture. This is why, despite stricter laws, harsher punishments and heavier fines, so many Americans still drive while under the influence.
In 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received 10,322 reports of fatal motor vehicle accidents that involved alcohol- impaired drivers. Two years prior to this, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested after they were found intoxicated either by alcohol or illegal drugs.
The present blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers in all U.S. states is 0.08%, while for drivers below the age of 21, a “No Tolerance” policy, is in effect. This policy mandates that no trace of alcohol should be found in their blood system while they are driving, (traffic accident by the way, is the leading cause of death among teens). Punishment for violators include huge fines, jail term and probable loss of license.
The law sees drunk driving as a grave act of negligence, much more so if someone gets injured or killed. Drivers who will be found intoxicated will be charged with DUI, or driving under the influence, a serious violation of road safety rules. Depending on the BAC level or if anyone is hurt in the accident, the punishments become heavier and the fines, more costly; there are also the possibility of the court ordering that an ignition interlock be installed inside the driver’s vehicle and the acquisition of an SR-22.
As explained in the website of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, DUI is characterized as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08%. While this is the threshold at which it becomes illegal to operate a motor vehicle, one may still be charged with a DUI if his/her BAC was below the legal limit. In many states, such as in Tennessee , there is what is called an “implied consent” law. This law declares one’s position behind the wheel of a vehicle as consent for mandatory submission to a chemical test. Refusal to submit to a chemical test should an officer ask him/her to do so will result in automatic revocation of his/her driver’s license for a period of at least one year, depending on his/her history of being pulled over for intoxicated driving.
Personal Injury due to Drunk-driving
Drunk-driving is a major traffic offense in all U.S. states. This is because alcohol impairs a person’s motor skills and mental capacity, and affects his/her coordination, reaction time, judgment, perception, and overall capability to keep his/her focus on the road. Lack or loss of control over any of these skills can easily result in a crash that can injure or kill not only the drunk driver himself/herself, but also his/her passengers, pedestrians and other motorists. It is due to the increased risk of harm that innocent individuals may befall which makes drunk-driving a major traffic violation.
Though the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit for car drivers is 0.08 percent, studies have shown that even at 0.02 percent BAC level, a person’s driving ability and response time can already be affected. The possibility of figuring in a crash increases after 0.05 percent BAC, becoming even higher after 0.08 percent; thus, under all state laws, an individual is considered alcohol-impaired if he or she has a BAC level of 0.08% or higher and, if caught, will be charged with drinking under the influence (DUI) or drinking while intoxicated (DWI). To further reduce the risks brought about by drunk-driving, however, some states authorize traffic enforcers to charge a driver with impaired driving or DUI even if such driver’s blood alcohol concentration level is below 0.08 percent, so long as the arresting officer sees that the driver’s abilities are impaired.
In 2013, there were 1,171,935 DUI arrests in the U.S. In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of arrests went as high as 1.4 million. With these staggering figures some traffic authorities are even thankful that the number of fatal accidents (due to alcohol and/or illegal drugs impairment) has not gone beyond 10,500 during the recent years). Well, thanks to stricter laws, the zeal in enforcing these laws, the harsher penalties, and to the efforts of private groups, like the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) which, since 1980, has helped in the passing of new DUI laws, such as the Zero Tolerance law (which prohibits drivers below 21 from having in their blood system any measurable amount of alcohol) and the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) law (which authorizes an arresting officer to confiscate the license of drivers who refuse to take or fail a breath test.
Traffic authorities, however, know that despite all the efforts from government and private groups, people will continue to get behind the wheel of their vehicles even if intoxicated. According to Williams Kherkher, “Individuals who drive drunk often convince themselves that they are fully capable of operating a vehicle. In reality, drunk driving can cause individuals to execute a number of extremely dangerous driving behaviors including: speeding, tailgating, running red lights or stop signs, ignoring traffic signals, changing lanes without looking, weaving/swerving between lanes, overly aggressive driving, failure to use headlights or turn signals, and falling asleep behind the wheel. These behaviors, among others, exhibited by drunk drivers can cause catastrophic accidents.
“Every year,” as mentioned by Milwaukee personal injury lawyers in their website, “thousands of Americans are seriously injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers. These incidents are tragic because they could be wholly prevented were it not for the recklessness of those persons who choose to drive after they have consumed alcohol.”
The possible financial burden victims may suffer due to an accident, according to West Palm Beach injury attorneys, is due to extensive medical bills, lost wages, and painful injuries that can keep them out of work for an indefinite period. Thus, besides possible jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and license suspension, the liable party can also face monetary liabilities or compensation which they will have to pay to their victims.
In accordance to statements made by Toronto car accident lawyers of Mazin & Associates, PC, a car accident is an emotional event that can alter a victim’s life. Still, an individual is under no legal obligation to engage in assistance upon witnessing a car accident. If a situation arises, where someone’s life is at risk, the humane action may be to offer assistance; however, it is up to the moral code of the individual whether he or she wants to assist the victim. There are several reasons why an individual might refuse to offer assistance. Perhaps the person is in a rush or he or she assumes somebody else will stop. The most common reason for inaction, however, is fear.
Fearing they may further injure the victim, individuals choose not to intervene. They do not want to face the legal implications that may occur because of their good intentions. The Good Samaritan Law serves to terminate such inactivity. The legislation protects well-intentioned individuals who offer medical care for victims. Although each state adopted this legislation, there still exist state variations concerning the application of the law. Several states like Alaska, Arizona, Minnesota, and Georgia protect anyone who offers aid to an injured victim regardless of the person’s medical experience or knowledge in emergency care. On the other hand, other states like Michigan, New York, and Utah only extend protection to trained medical personnel who possess an extensive knowledge in medical practice and emergency assistance such as nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. Moreover, the location where aid is performed can inhibit whether an individual receives immunity under the Good Samaritan Law. Despite the protection offered by the Good Samaritan Law, otherwise altruistic individuals still refuse to offer assistance due to the law’s different caveats.