Speeding is a Factor in 26 percent of Fatal Accidents

Speeding Car

Many people do not think twice about increasing their rate of speed, especially when they get in a hurry on the road. Speeding can, they often assume, help them reach their destinations faster, which seems like the ideal solution when drivers get in a hurry.

Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, speeding also carries an underlying hazard: It factors into around 26 percent of fatal accidents each year.

The Hazards of Speeding

Some people take speeding for granted, assuming that it will simply help them get to their destination faster and cause relatively few problems along the way. Unfortunately, speeding often leads to more severe consequences than the driver may think especially when coupled with other potentially dangerous driving behaviors.

#1. Speeding Requires Drivers to React Faster

The faster you drive, the faster you need to react in the event of an emergency. Your vehicle needs time to slow down, steer, or stop. You cannot force it to stop or maneuver faster, even if you feel very comfortable and confident behind the wheel.

As a result, at a high rate of speed, you must react faster than if you face the same set of circumstances at a slower rate of speed. Unfortunately, many drivers do not have adequate time to react once a threat makes itself known, especially if they have engaged in other dangerous driving behaviors, including tailgating or swerving through traffic.

#2. Speeding Can Make Drivers Harder to Predict

Not only does the speeding driver have to react faster in the event of a hazard on the road, but other drivers around him must also react faster. A speeding driver may quickly careen out of control or cross over into another driver’s lane. At those high rates of speed, the driver must react faster to avoid a collision.

#3. Speed Can Increase the Risks Associated with Driver Distraction

Distraction kills out on the road, especially at high rates of speed. Distracted drivers who have chosen to speed may never notice a potential hazard as it comes their way. Often, those drivers may end up with much more substantial injuries than they would have suffered if they had slowed down.

At a high rate of speed, a vehicle travels much further during those moments of distraction. In the seconds a driver looks away from the road, much more of the road will pass him by than if he had become distracted at a lower rate of speed. As a result, the driver may have a hard time reacting appropriately to potential hazards, even if he notices them.

#4. Speeding May Increase the Severity of an Accident

Sometimes, an accident would have happened regardless of the driver’s rate of speed. He might not have had adequate time to stop, or to maneuver around a hazard. However, at a high rate of speed, the driver hits the obstacle with more force.

That increased force travels through the vehicle, resulting in more serious damage to both vehicles and potentially more serious injury for everyone in them. At high rates of speed, drivers may have greater odds of suffering more serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and internal injuries.

#5. One Driver’s Speed May Influence Another

Speeding often forms a vicious cycle. One driver speeds up to get to his destination faster, or even to move over and change lanes on a highway. The driver next to him or in front of him speeds up. The driver behind him speeds up.

Suddenly, it seems as though every vehicle on the road has increased its rate of speed to match the others around it. Frequently, drivers who prefer to drive at slower speeds may feel pressured to increase their speed more than they feel comfortable. Younger drivers, in particular, may prove prone to giving in to this form of peer pressure out on the road.

Why Do Drivers Speed?

1. Drivers may get in a hurry.

Sometimes, drivers speed simply because they feel that they need to rush to meet their destination. They may leave the house late, fall behind because of traffic, or habitually fail to leave themselves enough time to reach their destinations.

In reality, however, speeding may not save drivers as much time as they think. Moving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit will only save 10 minutes over the course of an hour. In a shorter journey, it might save even less time.

Furthermore, traffic patterns can prevent speeding drivers from making additional progress toward their goals. Speeding may also create more delays than it resolves, especially as drivers create traffic jams due to their reckless or aggressive behavior on the road.

2. Some drivers speed habitually.

Speeding, for some drivers, simply becomes a normal pattern. They speed on their way to work. They speed on their way home. Unfortunately, they may not even recognize the pattern, even as their speed increases and they pose a growing danger to themselves and others. A driver in the habit of speeding may not even realize how high his speed has risen until he loses control of his vehicle, which could mean a potent risk to everyone around him.

Drivers who speed habitually may also offer another hazard: they may show a greater likelihood of growing distracted while speeding. Frequently, drivers become more distracted in familiar territory as they zone out and pay attention to their own thoughts or even try to take care of other tasks instead of focusing on the vehicles and terrain around them. Distracted, speeding drivers can prove a substantial hazard on the road.

3. Drivers may speed because of road rage.

Road rage often comes out at the worst possible moments, causing drivers to engage in behavior that they would not even consider under normal circumstances.

Road rage may emerge as a result of frustration with others on the road or delays, particularly if a driver has watched his time slip away and knows that he will have to arrive late to an activity he planned to attend. Drivers suffering from road rage may speed to show up drivers that have passed them or to get rid of some anger following a long delay.

Unfortunately, road rage may also cause other dangerous behaviors, including a loss of attention on the road, that can make raging drivers very dangerous to others around them.

4. Intoxicated drivers may prove more likely to speed.

Alcohol often removes a driver’s sense of judgment, causing him to engage in much more reckless behaviors than he would engage in under normal circumstances. That recklessness may extend to speeding. Intoxication, however, may also interfere with a driver’s overall motor control, making it difficult for him to control his vehicle at those rates of speed. Intoxicated drivers also often have slowed reaction times and more difficulty responding to potential hazards on the road, which can make speeding even more lethal.

5. Some drivers may speed as they become more familiar with a specific road.

Posted speed limits serve to indicate the fastest speed at which drivers can safely travel a given road. However, as drivers become more comfortable with a specific road, especially if they have to drive on it very regularly, they may become more comfortable with the idea of speeding.

They may feel that they know the road and can handle its hairpin turns or dangerous drops more easily. However, that familiarity with the road may not account for obstacles like pedestrians, other vehicles, or animals in the road. Furthermore, dangerous weather conditions can increase hazards on even the most familiar road, raising the risk of a serious collision.

6. Drivers may feel more confident than they should about their ability to handle potential hazards.

While drivers who speed might not come out and say that they feel the rules exist for other people, but not for them, many drivers become extremely confident in their ability to maneuver at high rates of speed.

Often, that confidence becomes extremely misplaced. Drivers, however, may fail to realize the hazard until they have already caused a serious collision. Speeding drivers may feel a false sense of security if they have managed to avoid collisions in the past, especially if they have a long history of experience on the road. However, aging drivers may have slowed reaction times, which can make speeding more dangerous as they age.

Furthermore, speeding does not care about a driver’s experience when a serious hazard arises. While an experienced driver might have better odds of successfully maneuvering out of a potential accident scenario, experience does not guarantee that the driver will not sustain serious injury.

7. Speeding may occur because of a lack of clearly posted speed limit signs.

Ideally, speed limit signs should appear at regular intervals on the road so that drivers can judge their speed accordingly and slow down when needed. Unfortunately, many roads across the United States still lack adequate signs to determine how fast drivers should safely drive along those roads.

A lack of speed limit signs can make it difficult for drivers to determine a safe rate of speed. Some drivers do not know how to judge and predict speed limit signs, which may raise the risk that they will drive faster and ultimately cause an accident.

8. Some drivers speed just for the thrill.

Many drivers enjoy the thrill of pushing their vehicles and trying to reach a higher rate of speed, even though they know the associated dangers. Younger drivers, in particular, may try to speed on purpose, flying in the face of danger and trying to show that they can handle it.

They may want to show off in front of friends or loved ones, or they may simply enjoy the thrill of speeding. Thrill-seekers may also prove more likely to engage in other dangerous behaviors on the road, from speeding around curves to tailgating, swerving through traffic, and showing examples of road rage.

What Should You Do After a High-Speed Collision?

High rates of speed may seem innocent until an accident occurs. After the accident, you have to figure out what to do next.

Report the Accident to the Police

Even if you and the other driver both chose to speed, report the accident to the police. If the other driver’s speeding caused the accident, that driver may face criminal consequences. However, if you fail to report the accident, it can make it much more difficult for you to pursue the compensation you may deserve for your accident-related injuries. Do not leave the scene of the accident without correctly reporting the incident to the police.

Seek Medical Attention

High-speed collisions often involve serious injuries. If you have obvious signs of injury, you suffered significant property damage, or you have any questions about your physical capability after the accident, go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital to seek treatment as soon as possible.

The sooner you seek medical treatment, the better your odds of making a full recovery. Your trip to an urgent care center or hospital can also serve as evidence of when your injuries took place, which can make it easier for you to get compensation for those injuries.

Talk to a Lawyer

If another, speeding driver caused your accident, or you have questions about the compensation you may deserve after an accident, a lawyer can help you understand your right to compensation and pursue a car accident claim.

Do not try to handle your claim on your own, especially if you have serious injuries. Instead, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation, go over what led to your accident, and discuss your right to compensation.

The Road Rage Challenge

Man Expressing Road Rage

When drivers get frustrated out on the road, anger can grow to immense levels. Unfortunately, as anger grows, so does the driver’s likelihood of engaging in potentially dangerous behavior.

Road rage can cause a driver to make unsafe choices or ignore the other people sharing the road, ultimately resulting in accidents that include severe injuries.

What is Road Rage?

Road rage occurs when drivers engage in aggressive, dangerous behaviors out on the road. Occasionally, road rage simply means that a driver engages in excessively aggressive behavior that endangers others around him. In other cases, however, road rage may include deliberately dangerous behaviors that ultimately result in an act of violence.

#1. Tailgating

An aggressive driver who engages in tailgating may feel frustrated by the front driver’s slow speed or irritated because the driver pulled over in front of him or blocked him off. Tailgating includes traveling too close to the vehicle in front, often so close that the driver of the rear vehicle does not have adequate time to come to a safe stop if the front driver has to stop abruptly.

Unfortunately, tailgating can result in a serious rear-end collision, which can cause a variety of injuries ranging from whiplash to traumatic brain injury.

#2. Speeding

At high rates of speed, accident risk increases substantially. The more a driver increases his rate of speed, the more control he needs to have over his vehicle. Unfortunately, drivers suffering from road rage may have less control over their vehicles than other drivers, even drivers who choose to speed to reach their destination faster.

Speeding may also increase the severity of a collision since it increases the force associated with the accident.

#3. Ignoring Traffic Signals

Traffic signals help guide drivers safely as they move through traffic: showing which lane has right of way, indicating how to safely travel down specific streets, or simply breaking up the flow of traffic so that each driver can safely proceed through an intersection. Unfortunately, raging drivers may ignore those common traffic signals entirely.

Frequently, drivers suffering from immense road rage will choose to speed through intersections without even looking at other vehicles around them, which may substantially increase the risk of a collision.

#4. Cutting off Other Vehicles

Often, a raging driver will cut off the vehicle that bears the brunt of his anger. Frequently, that means making unsafe lane changes. A raging driver may swerve through traffic to prove a point. Not only can that raging driver pose a danger to himself and the driver he targets, he may force other drivers to react quickly to avoid a collision.

#5. Yelling or Making Obscene Gestures

Road rage frequently starts with verbal expressions of fury or hand gestures intended to show other drivers that the raging driver has grown frustrated. Unfortunately, yelling or making obscene gestures may increase anger, rather than helping the raging driver vent some of his anger and calm down.

Yelling or obscene gestures may also trigger rage in another driver, causing the road rage cycle to continue and increasing the odds that an accident will occur.

#6. Blocking the Flow of Traffic

A raging driver may attempt to block the movements of other drivers, especially those he perceives as causing his anger. He may try to pull over in front of the other driver and slow down enough to stop that driver’s progression, often completely blocking a lane or even multiple lanes of traffic to prevent the other driver from moving forward.

Sometimes, the raging driver may couple this behavior with getting out of his car and trying to start a physical altercation.

#7. Trying to Force a Vehicle Off the Road

Raging drivers may, in some cases, escalate to acts of violence, including trying to force another vehicle off the road. In some areas, particularly around steep drops and sharp turns, forcing a vehicle off the road can result in a serious rollover accident or cause substantial damage as a vehicle gets forced into another object.

Sometimes, the driver of the other vehicle may have to decide between hitting the raging driver and hitting something or someone else.

#8. Actively Ramming a Vehicle

When a raging driver escalates to the point of violence, he may actively ram into another vehicle. Ramming into a vehicle can cause immediate damage to both vehicles and, in some cases, serious injury to the passengers in those vehicles.

Unfortunately, some raging drivers may not stop with a single collision. They may back up and try to ram their targets a second time, or multiple times. That loss of control may mean increasing injury for everyone involved in the collision.

#9. Pulling a Weapon

In some cases, raging drivers may pull a weapon on the targets of their ire. Raging drivers who pull a weapon may brandish it and issue threats, or even pull out a gun and start shooting. Often, however, raging drivers will simply indicate that they intend to shoot and try to convince the other driver to get into an altercation. Ignoring those threats and getting to a safe place can help de-escalate the situation.

#10. Following Another Driver

Sometimes, a driver suffering from road rage may choose to follow the driver he feels has wronged him in some way to continue the altercation. The raging driver may try to convince the other driver to pull over or follow him until he stops, then further escalate the confrontation.

Common Causes of Road Rage

Road rage can have a trigger, or it may emerge unexpectedly.

#1. Inconveniences on the Road

Many drivers struggle with road rage when they face inconveniences on the road. They may have a hard time, for example, dealing with potential delays, including slow-moving drivers, traffic jams, and construction. In heavy traffic, road rage tends to occur more often than when drivers have plenty of room to maneuver safely and independently.

#2. Hazards on the Road

Some drivers suffer from road rage when they have faced a hazard on the road, especially a hazard they barely avoided. For example, drivers may become frustrated when they notice other people speeding or swerving through traffic, or they might become angry when they notice another driver talking or texting on the phone, especially in heavy traffic. Often, road hazards can trigger a surge of adrenaline that may lead to increased road rage.

#3. Lack of Time

Sometimes, drivers suffer from road rage primarily because they did not leave adequate time to reach their destinations, especially in heavy traffic. The driver may notice the clock ticking down, but lack the means to get to his destination on time. Unfortunately, when a driver knows that he will end up late for a meeting, event, or encounter, he may have a hard time keeping his temper under control. That temper may then bleed onto everything around him.

#4. Aggressive Behaviors on the Part of Other Drivers

Sometimes, the behavior of other drivers can trigger road rage. Horns honking, obscene gestures, or verbal abuse can all trigger anger in many drivers, leading to serious cases of road rage. Occasionally, loud or aggressive music can also trigger road rage in some drivers.

#5. Stress

For some drivers, road rage may not occur as a result of external stimulus, but rather as a result of internal stress. A driver who feels stressed in other areas of life may feel more stressed out on the road and have a likelihood of engaging in a variety of more dangerous behaviors, including an increased overall risk of road rage. Stress can cause a driver to suffer from road rage even when facing relatively mild stimuli.

What to Do In a Road Rage Encounter

If you encounter a driver exhibiting road rage, it can prove very frightening. Many people have no idea what to do with a driver who suffers from immense rage. Should you call the police? Try to engage the driver and calm him down? Follow these steps to help de-escalate the situation and reduce the risk of serious injury.

1. Avoid engaging the driver.

When possible, do not look at other drivers in their vehicles, including a driver who may show signs of road rage. Try not to engage directly with that driver. Do not roll down your window, hit your horn, or engage in other activities that could indicate that you intend to engage with the situation. Instead, keep your cool and keep your focus on your own driving.

2. Stay in your vehicle.

Whether you notice another driver following you or pull up at a gas station, only to discover that a raging driver has joined you there, do not get out of your vehicle. Your vehicle offers some level of protection from a raging driver.

Getting out of your car could serve to further escalate the situation, making the raging driver angrier or allowing him more personal access to you. Avoid rolling down your window or verbally engaging with the rager.

If you get into an accident with a raging driver, especially if the driver gets out of the car still angry, you may want to remain in your vehicle and call the police instead of getting out of the car to assess the damage. While you may have to interact with the raging driver to properly document and report the accident, it’s wiser to wait until the police arrive at the scene to get out of your car, so you can keep yourself safe.

3. Put distance between you and the raging driver, if possible.

If you notice a driver engaging in aggressive behaviors out on the road, try to put as much distance as possible between you and that driver. You may need to reduce your rate of speed or even change your route to avoid further engaging with that driver.

Sometimes, you may need to pull off the road to a safe place, especially if you have noticed the raging driver speeding ahead of you. However, try not to pull into a poorly lit or generally deserted area, since raging drivers may escalate to physical violence if they can get you out of your vehicle.

4. Do not engage in competition with another driver.

Sometimes, drivers may try to convince you to engage in competition. They may try to get you to race or engage in a pattern of pulling over in front of one another. Driving involves high rates of speed and can invoke a feeling of stress during even a friendly competition. Instead, keep your attention on the road and on arriving safely at your destination.

5. Contact the police, if needed.

If you notice a driver engaging in very dangerous, reckless, or aggressive behavior around you, contact the police if possible. The local police can help de-escalate the situation or get it back under control.

You may need to contact the police if the driver brandishes a weapon or attempts to harm someone else on the road, or if you notice aggressive behavior getting out of hand that could endanger others. If possible, pull off the road or have a passenger call the police, rather than trying to talk on the phone yourself.

A Lawyer Can Help After a Road Rage Accident

An accident involving road rage can leave you shaken. In many cases, road rage accidents involve severe injuries, particularly if the raging driver actively rammed the vehicle or engaged in extremely dangerous behavior. You may deserve compensation for injuries sustained in a road rage accident.

An attorney can help you learn more about your right to compensation, including how to move forward with a claim. Talk to a car accident lawyer about the compensation you may deserve.

Sideswipe Collisions: More Serious Than You May Think

Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer For Sideswipe Collision

As motor vehicle accidents go, drivers tend to think of sideswipe collisions as relatively minor. Scary, certainly, but also less likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities than, say, a head-on collision or a T-bone accident at an intersection.

If someone tells you “I got sideswiped,” you might assume the individual’s car sustained some cosmetic damage, a sheared-off rearview mirror or some dents and paint damage to the door panels, for example but that the driver survived the incident more or less unscathed.

Your instinct can prove wrong. Sometimes, a sideswipe collision has drastic, harmful, and tragic consequences. In this blog post, we explore that version of a sideswipe: how it happens, what it entails, the injuries it can cause, and how a lawyer can help you secure compensation if it happens to you or a loved one.

What We Mean When We Talk About Sideswipe Collisions

To get us started, let’s establish a definition for sideswipe collisions generally.

A sideswipe collision consists of any vehicle-on-vehicle collision in which the initial point of impact occurs on the side of both vehicles, such as:

  • A collision between two vehicles traveling in opposite directions;
  • A collision while one vehicle passes another vehicle traveling in the same direction; and
  • A collision between a vehicle in motion and a stopped vehicle.

What Makes Sideswipe Collisions Dangerous

Notice that we define sideswipe collision by the initial point of impact between two vehicles. It’s from that specific definition that sideswipe collisions acquire their reputation as “minor” accidents. The initial accident happens in passing, so people usually assume that means it’s over quickly.

That’s not necessarily true, however. The initial swipe of the collision may happen in an instant, but that’s often just the beginning of a sequence of potentially catastrophic events. That first impact can easily send either vehicle spinning out of control, or push either vehicle into an opposing lane, or force either vehicle off the road. Secondary accidents, including collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects, and rollovers, accompany many sideswipe accidents, turning what started as a minor initial impact into nothing less than a major motor vehicle accident.

Common Preventable Causes of Sideswipe Collisions

Numerous factors, many of them preventable, contribute to the causes of sideswipe accidents. Below, we discuss three common mistakes made by drivers and others that can lead to a dangerous sideswipe collision.

Speeding

Driving over the speed limit or too fast for road conditions invites a host of dangerous consequences, including causing a sideswipe collision. For one thing, speeding gives drivers less time to react to and avoid sideswipe hazards, like an unexpected narrowing of lanes or an oncoming vehicle that has strayed over the centerline. For another, speeding increases the likelihood that a driver might lose control on a rough or slippery road surface, or at a curve in a highway.

Speeding also heightens the danger of a sideswipe collision turning into a major accident. A speeding car, if knocked off course by a sideswipe, is more likely than a slow-moving one to spin out of control or to roll over. The force of the collision imparted by a speeding vehicle will also tend to increase the severity of damage done to other vehicles, and to knock those vehicles out of lanes and into the paths of others.

Driver Distraction

A driver’s distraction behind the wheel of a moving vehicle commonly leads to a sideswipe collision. Distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving safely. Any of these lapses can interrupt the driver’s ability to keep a vehicle traveling in a straight line, and in just a second or two, the car or truck can veer far enough off-course to sideswipe a vehicle in a neighboring or oncoming lane.

These days, smartphone use behind the wheel contributes to a disproportionate number of distracted driving accidents, because it involves a dangerous mix of visual, manual, and cognitive tasks. But distractions abounded for drivers even before screens high-jacked their attentions. Watching the rear-view mirror, talking to passengers in the back seat, and eating and driving at the wheel all constitute distractions that can have deadly consequences.

Impaired Driving

Alcohol and drugs, when consumed separately or in combination, impair a variety of human motor and cognitive functions critical to driving safely.

Drunk and drugged drivers risk causing a sideswipe accident because they experience (among other deficits):

  • Slowed reaction times;
  • Diminished perception of speed and distance;
  • Poor judgment making;
  • Lack of motor control;
  • Drowsiness/loss of consciousness; and
  • Blurred or distorted vision.

Impaired driving is illegal, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always stop drunk and drugged drivers from making the tragic decision to get behind the wheel. Sideswipe collisions occur when those drivers veer into adjacent or oncoming lanes, misjudge the distance separating their vehicle from another, and drive too fast for road conditions.

The Human Toll of Sideswipe Collisions

As we said at the outset, the initial side-to-side impact of a sideswipe collision may not cause much harm to any occupants of the vehicles involved. A sideswipe involves a glancing blow, and does not initially impart the dangerous forces on human bodies that other, more direct collisions might.

Still, the secondary effects of a sideswipe can prove catastrophic for drivers and passengers alike. A sideswipe collision can trigger any number of serious follow-on accidents, including head-on collisions, T-bone accidents, and rollovers.

Any of these can cause fatalities, as well as severe injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs);
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCIs);
  • Crushed or traumatically amputated limbs;
  • Severe lacerations and abrasions;
  • Bone fractures and other orthopedic injuries;
  • Back, neck, and shoulder trauma; and
  • Burns.

These and other harms can take a heavy toll on sideswipe accident victims and their families. Accordingly, even though the initial impact of a sideswipe might not cause many injuries to vehicle occupants, a sideswipe might still result in life-altering physical, emotional, and financial difficulty.

Seeking Compensation for Sideswipe Accidents

Victims of sideswipe collisions typically have legal rights to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered. With the help of an experienced motor vehicle accident injury lawyer, they can pursue the at-fault parties for the collision for money damages.

Who owes damages for sideswipe collision injuries?

Unlike many other types of motor vehicle accidents, the individuals most harmed by a sideswipe collision might not include the party at fault for causing their injuries and losses. As we’ve explained, the most catastrophic damage inflicted by a sideswipe usually occurs in the secondary accident that follows the initial impact. The driver whose carelessness or recklessness leads to the initial collision may escape that second accident entirely.

That does not let the at-fault driver off the hook for liability, but it can make the process of determining fault in a sideswipe accident a bit more complicated than in other types of collisions. Experienced lawyers, insurance adjusters, and other accident investigators may need to dig deep into the details of an accident to pinpoint the initial sideswipe collision that triggered a much larger and more damaging crash.

The initial impression given by a head-on collision, for example, might be that one of the two drivers made a tragic mistake that led to the accident. But investigation may uncover that neither of them actually bears any fault, and that instead, a third driver’s sideswipe of one of the two vehicles that collided head-on constituted the true cause of the crash.

That is why it’s always important to hire an experienced attorney whenever you have suffered injuries and losses in an accident. You may not even remember the initial sideswipe that triggered a larger collision, but a careful investigation can uncover multiple parties who may owe you compensation.

These may include:

  • The driver whose careless, reckless, or intentional actions caused the initial sideswipe that knocked your vehicle off-kilter and triggered a secondary collision;
  • That driver’s employer, if the vehicle that sideswiped yours was a commercial vehicle (such as a tractor-trailer, cement mixer, or delivery truck);
  • The bar, restaurant, or social host who served alcohol to that driver before the driver got behind the wheel while under the influence;
  • A municipal or state government agency responsible for failing to maintain safe roads, if a dangerous road hazard contributed to the cause of the sideswipe;
  • An automotive manufacturer, if the auto parts it made experienced a catastrophic failure because of a dangerous defect (for example, a defective tire blowout), leading to a loss of control and a sideswipe;
  • One of the drivers involved in the secondary collision, if they failed to exercise reasonable care that would have prevented the secondary accident.

Consult with an experienced auto accident attorney right away after any crash that harms you or a loved one, especially if a sideswipe triggered it. You and the lawyer have no time to lose in collecting forensic information that might help you identify the party or parties at fault.

What compensation can you recover for sideswipe collision injuries?

One or more parties may owe you significant financial compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered in a sideswipe and (more likely) the secondary accident that followed it. Generally speaking, state laws nationwide entitle crash victims like you to obtain payment for two, and potentially three, categories of damages you suffered.

First, you’re generally entitled to receive economic damages (sometimes called “special” damages), which include all of the financial costs you incurred in the sideswipe collision and any secondary accident it triggered.

These typically include:

  • Medical expenses for treating crash-related injuries, including co-pays, deductibles, and other costs for emergency care, hospitalization, physical therapy, in-home care, medication, and medical equipment.
  • Other expenses you would not have had but for the sideswipe, including the cost of repairing or replacing damaged vehicles, and of paying for services (transportation, cooking-and-cleaning, etc.) to help you manage your day-to-day life while you heal from your injuries.
  • Any wages or income you lost or can’t earn because your injuries prevent you from working.

Second, you’re also entitled to seek non-economic damages (sometimes called “general” damages), which include the wide range of other, non-financial difficulties and challenges you face because of the accident and the injuries you suffered in it.

These damages encompass:

  • The physical pain you feel from your injuries;
  • The emotional suffering and other mental health impacts you endure from those injuries and the trauma of the accident itself;
  • The diminished quality of your life resulting from the injuries, such as losing the ability to engage in family time, hobbies, sports, and other activities that previously brought you joy;
  • The negative impact of your injuries on your personal or intimate relationships; and
  • The harmful effects on your social life and wellbeing of carrying scars from your injuries.

Third, you may also have the right to ask a court to award you additional punitive, also known as exemplary, damages. The law in most states permits courts to order the at-fault party to pay these extra damages in a case in which the at-fault party engaged in extreme, outrageous, or intentionally harmful conduct in connection with causing the sideswipe accident that harmed you.

No one can guarantee that you will receive any of the damages listed above, nor can anyone promise in advance that you will receive any particular amount of money. You can give yourself the best possible chance of securing the maximum possible amount of compensation, however, by hiring a skilled motor vehicle accident injury lawyer to represent you.

Seek Skilled Legal Help After a Sideswipe Collision

We have explained in this blog post the many potential dangers of sideswipe collisions. Despite their reputation as “minor” accidents, sideswipes can cause major injuries and tragic losses.

If a sideswipe collision left you or a loved one injured or worse, you likely have rights to financial compensation from the party or parties at fault. Do not wait to seek the help of an experienced car accident attorney to represent you in obtaining that compensation. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the stronger your chances of securing maximum compensation given your specific circumstances.

If Reckless Driving Injures You, Call a Car Accident Lawyer

Anyone who drives regularly has had the experience of seeing someone speed or pass unsafely and thinking to themselves, “wow, that’s reckless”. These instances go beyond the questionable risks we see other drivers take every day and stand out as especially dangerous and liable to cause someone serious injuries.

The law, like ordinary drivers, recognizes a distinction between careless actions behind the wheel and reckless ones. In this blog post, we examine what makes some types of driving reckless, and how the law deals with reckless drivers criminally and civilly.

Distinguishing Reckless Driving from Careless Driving

Several years ago, the American Automobile Association’s research arm, the AAA Foundation, published research reporting that 87 percent of drivers have engaged in unsafe driving behaviors within the past month. That’s a pretty startling statistic. Very few perfectly safe drivers populate our roads.

Still, that does not make us a nation of reckless drivers. Saying that a driver is reckless implies something worse: that they drive in a way that exhibits an extreme and unacceptable (what laws in many states refer to as “willful and wanton”) disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others. If careless driving poses a risk of an accident, reckless driving poses a materially heightened risk not just of an accident, but of one that will cause serious injuries or fatalities.

Laws nationwide embrace this distinction. Virtually all unsafe driving behaviors are “illegal” in the sense that they constitute a violation of a given state’s motor vehicle code. Reckless driving, however, is often illegal in a more consequential way: most states criminalize it. Some locales explicitly call out reckless driving as a stand-alone criminal offense.

Others have criminal laws on the books punishing specific conduct behind the wheel that is, by its nature, reckless. One way or another, the law treats reckless driving as something worse than mere careless driving. It puts the public at risk for severe consequences and accordingly the law subjects it to harsh penalties.

Common Examples of Reckless Driving

So far, we’ve discussed reckless driving as driving that’s relatively worse than careless driving. But what, specifically, constitutes reckless driving that exposes the public to the worst consequences, and is worthy of the harshest punishment? Here are some common examples.

Excessive Speeding

Almost all drivers speed sometimes, in that they drive five miles per hour over the speed limit on a highway or a street they frequently travel.

Speeding becomes reckless when it unacceptably disregards the safety of others and poses an extreme risk of causing an accident, such as in the following circumstances:

  • Driving far more than (for example, two-times, or 25 miles per hour over) a posted speed limit;
  • Exceeding the speed limit through a designated low-speed area, such as a school or construction zone;
  • Speeding in connection with another prohibited driving activity, such as street racing;
  • Driving too fast to stay in control in heavy traffic or poor weather conditions.

Most drivers know reckless speeding when they see it. It’s the car that blows past on the highway as if your car was standing still, or the driver going so fast that you just know he could not possibly stop safely on a rain-slick road.

Intentional Disregard for Traffic Rules and Controls

As part of the social and legal contract most drivers follow, we recognize that public officials post traffic signs and lights as a means of ensuring our safety and the safety of others with whom we share the road. We may not like waiting at a stoplight, and we may think the public road department made a bad decision in turning a formerly two-way street into a one-way thoroughfare, but accepting those decisions and abiding by traffic controls is something we all must do for the greater good.

Some drivers, however, refuse to play along. They know they’re supposed to stop at a red light, and that they should never take a wrong-way shortcut, but they do it anyway. They know—because we all know—that their actions are extremely dangerous. They simply put their interests above the safety of others. In a word, they’re reckless.

Using Roads for Purposes Other Than Transportation

Roads exist to facilitate the public getting from one place to another. Except in narrow circumstances when they’re closed for specific purposes (such as a running race), roads do not serve purposes unrelated to transportation.

Drivers who nevertheless decide to use the roads for purposes other than intended engage in reckless conduct. One such example is drivers who take to the road to joyride or race each other, putting the public at risk of serious accidents. Another is drivers who road rage, using the roads as a means of venting their anger toward others.

Impaired Driving

All drivers understand that driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is illegal and dangerous. By definition, that same conduct also constitutes reckless driving. The effects of drugs and alcohol slow a driver’s reaction times, cloud the driver’s judgment, and interfere with the perception of speed and distance. Any of these effects, let alone a combination of them, stands a good chance of resulting in a deadly accident.

Holding Reckless Drivers Accountable

Laws in every state hold reckless drivers accountable for their actions and the harm they cause in at least three ways. Here is a summary of each.

Criminal Accountability

As we mentioned above, many states define reckless driving as criminal conduct, and others subject drivers to criminal penalties for engaging in specific reckless driving behaviors. No matter which approach a state takes (and some take both), the consequences for reckless driving can be severe. Reckless drivers face potential prison sentences, large monetary fines, and long terms of probation. Having a criminal driving record can also impair their ability to obtain employment, particularly if that employment involves driving any sort of commercial vehicle.

Local prosecutors enforce criminal penalties for reckless driving by charging drivers with crimes and, if the defendant does not plead guilty, asking judges and juries to convict them. Victims of accidents caused by reckless drivers do not get to decide whether a prosecutor brings charges, but may participate in an eventual prosecution.

Administrative Consequences

Driving a car is a privilege, not a right. The state, which issues driver’s licenses, may revoke its permission for an individual to drive upon finding that the driver has engaged in reckless conduct.

State laws differ regarding the circumstances in which a department of motor vehicles may suspend or revoke a license, and on the duration of any given suspension. Reckless drivers, however, can expect to lose their driving privileges for at least some time if they cause an accident, whether or not the state charges them with a crime.

Civil Liability to Victims for Damages

Reckless drivers who cause accidents that injure innocent victims will generally face legal liability to the people they harm for monetary damages.

This liability may include an obligation to pay compensation to victims to pay for:

  • Medical expenses victims incur in connection with treating injuries they suffered in an accident, including the costs of emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, and medication.
  • Other costs victims face because of the accident or the injuries they suffered in it, such as expenses for modifying their homes to accommodate new disabilities, or of replacing damaged personal property.
  • Wages and income victims lose as a result of their injuries, most commonly in cases in which victims miss work while recovering from an injury, or when victims suffer disabling injuries that prevent them from working.
  • Pain, suffering, and impacts on the quality of victims’ lives resulting from the reckless driving accident and the injuries it inflicted, which may include harm to victims’ personal relationships, and mental health challenges victims face because of their injuries.

In some cases, courts may also impose punitive damages on reckless drivers, to punish them for their dangerous, willful conduct.

Other Parties May Share the Blame for Reckless Driving

Reckless drivers who cause harm aren’t the only parties who may face consequences for the drivers’ misconduct. Others may share the blame—and legal liability —for injuries and losses suffered by reckless driving victims.

For example:

  • Employers of individuals who drive recklessly and cause accidents may face legal liability to victims of their employees’ misconduct, particularly if they failed to train employees in safe driving practices or knew of an employees’ dangerous tendencies.
  • Bars, restaurants, and social hosts that serve alcohol to a driver who subsequently causes an accident while under the influence, especially if that driver was a minor or was visibly intoxicated before they served the driver alcohol.
  • Organizers of illegal street racing or other events that encourage reckless driving that ends in an accident.
  • Medical professionals who prescribe medication that causes an unexpected, unwanted change in a driver’s mental state that results in reckless behavior behind the wheel.

It isn’t always obvious who may share liability with a reckless driver for injuries the driver causes. The most reliable way to determine who may owe damages for a reckless driving accident is to speak with an experienced car accident injury attorney as soon as possible after suffering harm in a crash. An attorney can investigate the circumstances of the accident and determine who may owe compensation to accident victims under applicable law.

What to Do if a Reckless Driver Harms You

Do you know the steps to take if you get hurt in an accident caused by a reckless driver? Here are some suggestions for actions that can protect your rights.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Perhaps the most important step any reckless driving accident victim can take is to seek medical care immediately. Consulting with a medical professional is important even if you do not believe you suffered injuries in a crash.

Some injuries—including serious ones like brain trauma or internal organ damage—may not exhibit immediate symptoms, but can cause life-altering or life-threatening complications if not treated right away.

Obtaining prompt, appropriate medical care also ensures the creation of records that document any injuries a victim suffers in a reckless driving accident, which attorneys may use later to establish the victim’s right to compensation.

Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

In the wake of suffering injuries in a reckless driving accident, few victims put hiring a lawyer at the top of their list of priorities. Seeking legal advice, however, will often constitute the smartest decision victims can make (after they have received medical care, of course).

A skilled car accident attorney acts as a crucial ally for accident victims in navigating the sometimes complicated decisions and life circumstances they often confront after getting hurt in a reckless driving accident.

An attorney can:

  • Investigate the accident to determine how it happened and who, in addition to the reckless driver, may face legal liability for victims’ injuries.
  • Evaluate the harm victims have suffered and calculate the appropriate amount of damages they have a right to receive under applicable laws.
  • Explain victims’ rights and options, and help victims make important decisions that may affect their legal rights and financial wellbeing.
  • Prepare, file, and litigate legal actions designed to secure maximum compensation for victims’ injuries and losses.
  • Negotiate settlements, when possible, of victims’ claims.
  • Take victims’ cases to trial in front of judges and juries, to obtain a damages award commensurate with the victims’ injuries.
  • Collect monies due to reckless driving accident victims through settlements, judgments, or jury awards.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a reckless driving accident, chances are you have rights under your state’s laws to receive significant financial compensation for the harm you suffered. To learn more about your rights in a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation, contact an experienced local car accident attorney today.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me After a Rear-End Collision?

Any type of car accident is an unfortunate situation that can often lead to devastating injuries. Out of all car accident scenarios, rear-end collisions sometimes cause the most serious damage to your body.

Perhaps you are going through this now after recently experiencing a rear-end collision on a busy road here in Florida. Things like this can happen so fast, you are potentially in a state of shock at the devastation it left behind.

Not only is your car possibly totaled, but you also suffered serious injuries that put you in the hospital. Let’s look at what you need to do next to put your life back together, including how a lawyer can help you after a rear-end collision.

How Did Your Rear-End Collision Happen?

According to statistics, rear-end collisions are the third most common type of car accident next to head-on and angle crashes. Some of those rear-ends are fatal due to the extreme impact.

Others, like you, manage to survive and incur injuries that change your life forever. The big question is, how did it happen?

A rear-end collision can happen in any number of ways. Often, it is not your fault as the victim. All too commonly, it is someone who ran into you due to a particular driving distraction.

Sometimes the defendant’s car is to blame due to a maintenance or manufacturing problem. Negligence, in this case, could go to more than one person, using Florida’s pure comparative fault law.

In other situations, smartphones, car radios, or passengers talking too much distract drivers.

It is a warning tale about the prevalence of distracted driving. Just one critical driving error like this from the negligent person could alter your life in a manner of seconds.

Not all rear-end collisions come from ordinary passenger cars either.

Other Vehicles Causing Rear-End Collisions

A regular car can cause enough damage to your vehicle if it rear-ends you. Your injuries can turn ten times worse after being hit from behind by a truck.

Far too many rear-end collisions from trucks occur on Florida roadways and highways. Some of those happen during busy commuter times when traffic is at its heaviest.

The reasons for the collisions are nearly identical to those who drive cars. Except, there is one difference in that truck drivers are far too commonly exhausted while at the wheel. Due to the pressure of delivering goods and driving into the morning hours, fatigued truck drivers are still a big problem.

After being hit from behind by a truck, your injuries are likely much worse than just mere whiplash. You may have major spinal injuries or traumatic brain injuries.

Of course, it is not just trucks that pose a threat in rear-end collisions. Other large vehicles like farm equipment, buses, or SUVs could plow into your car from behind and give you sustained injuries with ongoing life repercussions.

Spinal Injuries From Rear-End Collisions

One of the most common injuries in rear-end collisions is injuries to the spine. Severity levels with this injury are either complete or incomplete, with both altering how you live your life.

A complete spinal injury paralyzes you entirely from below the waist. Quadriplegia is also possible under this category where even your upper body is paralyzed. It means the likelihood of living in a wheelchair while possibly being unable to function normally without assistance. You may have the inability to communicate.

Incomplete spinal injuries might paralyze some of your motor functions, albeit not entirely. Even if it prevents you from being in a wheelchair, it can still cause enough issues where your physical mobility is no longer the same.

In these situations, you do not easily go back to the way things were before. Any job you had is possibly no longer workable, leading to no income for years to come.

Traumatic Brain Injuries From Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions also cause brain injuries, usually from flying you forward from the crash impact. Your head possibly hit the dashboard or the windshield at high impact, leading to a major concussion.

While seeking medical treatment, you may have found out that you had a traumatic brain injury. Despite most brain trauma healing over time, it could also lead to permanent brain damage.

Any sort of injury to the brain is as serious as a spinal injury. Do not let anyone minimize the seriousness of a brain injury in a rear-end collision. Unfortunately, insurance companies of the defendant sometimes attempt to make it look like your injuries are exaggerated.

Broken Bones or Nerve Damage

Other injuries are possible in rear-end crashes like broken bones and nerve damage, leading to just as much physical difficulty. Not all bones easily repair themselves if severely broken in a car accident.

Nerves are also challenging to repair, leading to possible impairments that affect your ability to function normally. Many of these injuries could end up even more severe if you rode in the back seat of a car driven by someone else. Being closer to the car impact location means taking a more severe physical toll on your body.

Let’s also not forget about the mental aspects of these injuries. The pain and suffering you will go through could lead to depression and other mental issues for years to come. Personal injury lawyers call this intangible evidence.

Your First Step After a Rear-End Collision

After any of the above injury scenarios, you are likely stuck in a hospital at the moment, leading to questions about your future. What should you do to get yourself recovered and gain any compensation to pay your medical bills?

Your first step is to just take time for yourself. Take all the time you need to get yourself well, and always seek medical attention immediately after experiencing your rear-end collision.

Once you are well enough, it is time to think about seeking legal help to win you a settlement. How you go about this could require the help of someone close to you if you are unable to call due to your injuries.

Should you not have the ability to call a lawyer, allow someone close to you to call on your behalf. Time is of the essence in your case due to some very good reasons.

As soon as you have a personal injury lawyer on your side, they can help you through the next legal steps.

Gather Evidence

It is always a good idea if you gather as much evidence as you can on your own since evidence can easily disappear quickly. Understandably, your injuries may prevent you from gathering anything after the rear-end collision occurs.

To get started, your car accident lawyer can go to work visiting the scene where your car accident took place. Whether in an intersection, along a highway, or in a parking lot, they can take action in acquiring any evidence available.

This usually begins by interviewing witnesses who happened to see the accident occur. Thanks to smartphones being ubiquitous in our culture, the chances are occasionally good that witnesses captured video of the rear-end collision as it happened.

Physical traces of the accident are also possibly available. Pieces of your car are hopefully still there before cleanup occurs. Acquiring this is sometimes more difficult since the city attempts to clean up all accident residue within hours.

Traffic camera footage also helps. Most intersections here in Florida have traffic cameras that have easy-to-acquire video footage. Any private security camera footage usually requires a subpoena to acquire.

Finally, your medical bills are a big part of the evidence gathered.

What Your Medical Bills Say About Your Rear-End Collision Injuries

Your car accident lawyer takes the initiative on gathering all your medical bills while you are still in recovery mode. It is not likely the last of your medical bills. Nevertheless, placing the existing ones in safekeeping is going to help immensely in proving your case to an insurance company.

Going to trial later also requires evidence like this. Your bills can prove how much treatment you have needed to try to restore your physical health after the rear-end collision happened.

Medical records also show the major impact of what rear-end collisions do to the body. All your X-rays and scans could show severely broken bones and other internal injuries. Clear evidence of this becomes undeniable when questioned about the severity of your injuries in your claim.

Beyond your medical bills, your lawyer also looks to your likely future and your probable financial condition. Your medical bills will prove your financial difficulties.

Parts of this are the intangible side of evidence as well. Pain and suffering due to your injuries is one thing. Mental pain from not being able to work and keep your head above water is another.

Insurance Negotiations

Evidence gathering and presentation is a big first step in proving your rear-end collision case. Next is the more complicated work of negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company.

There is a small chance the defendant had no car insurance. In this case, it might require your lawyer working with your own insurance company if you had coverage for non-insured drivers.

Otherwise, dealing with the insurance company of the defendant is a challenging path only your lawyer can handle. Never attempt to communicate with the insurance company on your own, even though they are sure to contact you.

One of the first things they will attempt to do is offer you a low settlement amount to end the case early. They do this to avoid a trial or going through lengthy negotiations with your lawyer. Insurance companies also frequently ask you questions about how you feel, something to avoid. Anything you say now could easily get twisted later.

Only your lawyer should have any contact with the insurance company adjuster. Thanks to their legal experience, they know the tricks insurance companies pull to get you to settle early.

Along the negotiation path, your legal team presents evidence of how your rear-end collision occurred. As much as insurance adjusters try to minimize your injuries, compelling facts make all the difference. Insurance companies eventually do settle when this happens, but how much should you expect?

Settlement Expectations

No one should deny you compensation as you prove your rear-end collision was as devastating physically and mentally as any other car accident. How much you might receive in a settlement is variable based on the evidence you present.

Never expect a certain amount just because your car accident lawyer has a strong track record of large settlements. While compelling evidence matters in how much you receive, the final amount is sometimes less or more than what is typical.

During the negotiation process, your lawyer keeps in contact with you to present each offer. Only you decide which final offer you want to take. The insurance company may continue to send overly low offers, making you decide to take the case to trial.

Your lawyer always adheres to your wishes. Just keep in mind trials do take longer. Sometimes it is a better bet because you are presenting your case to a jury rather than to a judge.

Also, keep in mind the final settlement is not always the end of the story.

Punitive Damages for Your Rear-End Collision

Suing for punitive damages against the defendant is made to send a message that they were especially egregious in their actions. For instance, if the driver was drunk or willfully crashed into the back of your car, punitive damages would be an additional suit directly against the negligent person.

Depending on the defendant’s financial situation, you could see more compensation from them due to the injuries you will battle for the rest of your life. Once in a while, the defendant is also a major company found negligent in maintaining a vehicle that crashed into you.

Get Legal Help Now!

Contact a personal injury attorney immediately if you have just been injured in a rear-end collision. Despite Florida’s statute of limitations on personal injuries being four years, you do not want to wait too long. Evidence can all too easily disappear without quick action.

A personal injury attorney can help you through the legal process with empathy and respect for the pain you are going through.