Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

Realistically, there is not much you can do if you are on the receiving end of a rear-end traffic accident. Few people keep a constant watch on their rear-view mirror to look for threats – pretty much everybody focuses their attention on what is ahead of them – and even if you see a car bearing down on you from behind, you rarely can tell if the person actually is going to hit your vehicle before stopping. Even if you know that to be the case, as often as not you have nowhere to go to get out of the way anyway. Most rear-end accidents happen when your vehicle is stopped and the driver of the vehicle behind you fails to notice in time.

Rear-end Accidents Happen More Than Any Other Collision

Rear-end crashes are the most frequent type of traffic accident, accounting for nearly one-third of all collisions on the roadways. Other sources claim that 40% of the 6 million or so traffic accidents in the United States annually are rear-end collisions. Either number is a significant percentage, especially if you are in the car being struck from behind. Occupants of the front vehicle in a rear-end accident suffer the most injuries. This is largely because the impact is unexpected for the occupants of the vehicle being hit from behind and they have no time to evade or prepare. Further, airbags are not designed to deploy in rear-end collisions and rarely do unless the car being rear-ended is forced into a vehicle in front of it by the impact. In contrast, the airbags in the vehicle behind deploy as designed. Common injuries among occupants of the vehicle struck from behind include face, head spinal cord, and neck injuries, as well as whiplash.

Social media can be a valuable tool in our modern society. It helps keep us connected and updated on what is happening around the world. However, sometimes the use of technology can be dangerous, especially while driving. Can social media companies be held responsible when drivers are injured while using their apps? The following article will discuss two recent cases in which plaintiffs attempted to hold Snapchat (Snap, Inc.) responsible for its alleged role in contributing to car accidents.

Lemmon v. Snapchat

In 2017, three young men in Wisconsin were killed in a car accident while using Snapchat’s “speed filter.” The driver of the vehicle was traveling at speeds of up to 123mph and attempted to document his actions on Snapchat. In the process, he ran the car off the road and crashed into a tree, killing himself and the other passengers.

Unfortunately, car accidents are an inevitable part of life. In Georgia, car accidents are the leading cause of injury deaths and the second-leading cause of hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Even if you are a cautious driver, you may be involved in an accident with another driver. Being in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, and if you have never been in a car accident before, you may not know what steps you are supposed to take afterwards. The following tips will provide you with the necessary steps to take if you are ever involved in an accident.

  • Move your vehicle

If your accident is minor and there is no major structural damage to the vehicle, move the vehicle out of traffic, preferably to a well-lit area. This will help minimize the risk of other vehicles colliding with your car while it is sitting in traffic and will ensure that you and your vehicle are safe from oncoming vehicles.

Underride accidents, a type of accident involving passenger vehicles and tractor-trailer rigs, are responsible for only about 1% of all highway fatalities annually. However, like their cousin “override” accidents, underride accidents are particularly lethal for the occupants of passenger vehicles involved. In addition, safety groups tend to focus on underride accidents because of the belief that such accidents are preventable, given the proper safety equipment. Underride accidents occur when a passenger strikes a tractor-trailer rig from behind or from the side. Because the trailer in a tractor-trailer 18-wheeler rides much higher than most passenger vehicles, such collisions often result in the passenger vehicle driving under the trailer of the 18-wheeler. This frequently wedges the passenger vehicle under the trailer and essentially cuts the top off the passenger vehicle. Occupants of the passenger vehicles frequently suffer catastrophic, often fatal, upper body injuries, including decapitation. While the federal government has taken some regulatory steps to address the issues, there remain safety groups who are not satisfied with the progress.

Preventing Underride Crashes is Simple, But Complicated

On one level, preventing underride crashes is as simple as installing barriers that make it difficult or impossible for passenger vehicles to drive under the trailer of an 18-wheel rig. Unfortunately, that is not as simple as it sounds. Underride crashes cause far fewer accidents, injuries, and fatalities than do other primary causes such as speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Underride accidents caused an average of 219 traffic deaths annually from 2008 through 2017, accounting for less than 1% of all traffic deaths during that time frame. On the other hand, that number represents more than 5% of all deaths involving large commercial trucks over the same time period. The fact is, underride accidents tend to be fatal, certainly for the people in the passenger vehicles involved.

Rear-end accidents happen all the time, and they can be a pain in the neck, often quite literally. Whiplash, a neck injury caused by rapid movement of the neck back and forth, resembling the cracking of a whip, is a common result of being in a vehicle that is struck from behind. Whiplash is bad enough, but rear-end accidents can cause any number of other injuries, as well, particularly at high speeds. Such accidents are, unfortunately, fairly common. In fact, rear-end crashes happen more often than any other kind of traffic collision. Nearly 30% of all traffic accidents involve a rear-end collision, leading to a considerable number of injuries and deaths every year. In fact, reports indicate that there are about 1.7 million rear-end traffic accidents per year, resulting in about 1,700 fatalities and another 500,000 injuries.

Drivers Usually are the Cause of Rear-End Collisions

When one vehicle strikes another vehicle from behind, the odds are pretty good that the driver of the vehicle hitting the vehicle from the rear has messed up and is at fault. It is not always true, but it is a pretty good bet. Tailgating contributes to more than a third of all traffic collisions, making it an obvious cause of the majority of all rear-end collisions. In a more general sense, federal statistics blame 87% of rear-end accidents on drivers simply not paying attention to traffic and what is in front of them. Other sources identify more specific causes, but many seem to be rooted in driver inattention or error, including:

People talk about head-on collisions as being the worst – and with good reason – but head-on crashes are by no means the only kind of car collision that carries with it a high risk of injury or death. Another type of collision that ranks among the most dangers is what is commonly referred to as a “T-bone” accident – the side-impact crash. Named for the popular steak, a T-bone crash is when one vehicle is struck in the side by a second vehicle at a perpendicular angle. Picture a car moving through an intersection when another vehicle enters the intersection on the crossing roadway, entering the intersection from one side or the other of the first car and striking the first vehicle full in the side. Most common at intersections, T-bone crashes can be deadly.

T-Bone Accidents are a Leading Cause of Traffic Fatalities

Traffic accidents can be deadly affairs – they cost more than 36,000 Americans their lives in 2019. More than half of traffic deaths involving passenger vehicle occupants happen in head-on collisions – full frontal impacts, nose to nose. However, more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in crashes involving passenger vehicles occur in side-impact collisions – in other words, the classic T-bone accident. When a vehicle hits another vehicle from the side, the struck vehicle does not have the crumple zone that provides protection in frontal collisions. Cars are designed to absorb impacts from the front and from the rear, using the trunk for rear-end accidents and the engine compartment, among other features, for front-end accidents to help absorb the force of the collision. When it comes to side-impact collisions, no such crumple zone exists to prevent the exterior of the vehicle from being pushed into the passenger compartment by the force of the collision. One study contends that vehicles struck from the front have five times the energy absorption as vehicles provide in a side impact. The lack of crumple zones on the side of vehicles simply adds to the lethality of side-impact collisions.

Almost every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry some kind of insurance. New Hampshire and Virginia do not require drivers to have insurance, but still hold them responsible for damages in accidents in which they are at fault. Most states require liability insurance to cover damages inflicted when the insured driver is at fault, while other states are “no-fault” insurance states and require that drivers carry “personal injury protection” insurance policies to cover injuries to themselves and their passengers. Even in the 48 states that require drivers to have some kind of insurance, an astounding number of drivers choose to ignore those requirements and carry no insurance at all. This can lead to some interesting liability questions.

Georgia Does Not Require Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Georgia state law does not require motorists to carry uninsured motorist insurance, or UMI. The state requires insurers to offer the coverage and sets forth allowable deductibles, minimum policy coverages, and the like, but allows drivers to refuse the coverage so long as they do so in writing. If accepted, UMI covers all of the damages the at-fault driver’s insurance would have covered if the driver had carried insurance, depending upon the coverage limits of the policy. UMI can come in handy, as one in eight drivers nationwide do not have any insurance, required or not. In Georgia, 12% of drivers have no insurance, ranking the state 25th for the highest percentage of uninsured motorists – right in the middle.

After years of rising steadily, the latest data indicates that the number of commuters opting to ride a bicycle to work is down slightly in recent years. While bicycle commuting rose slightly in popularity in 2016 over 2015, it declined slightly in 2017, the last year for which reliable data is available. 

Of course, all of that historical data is B.C. – Before COVID-19. It remains to be seen what the pandemic has done to the number of bicycle commuters. Millions of Americans found themselves out of work as a result of lockdowns and layoffs in response to COVID-19 as many occupations were deemed “nonessential.” Many millions more found themselves working from home. Either way, for many months now, far fewer people are commuting to work by any means of transportation at all. It remains to be seen what happens with the number of bicycle commuters when life returns to normal – whenever that might be, and whatever a post-COVID “normal” looks like. It seems likely, though, that people on bicycles, whether commuting, exercising, or just enjoying a little recreation, will be back on the roads at some point. That means that bicyclists involved in traffic accidents are likely to become a more prominent issue once again.

Riding Bicycles is Popular and Dangerous

No one who has ever driven a car is a stranger to distracted driving. Pretty much every single driver out there has driven while distracted at some point. Making adjustments to you climate controls, fiddling with your sound system, even eating some fast-food take-out – it is all distracted driving. Because everyone does it, and almost everyone does so without any serious consequences, many people tend to downplay the risks associated with distracted driving. Just because you have not been harmed by distracted driving, though, just means it has not happened yet. You have probably never been hit by lightning, either, but deaths and injuries from distracted driving are far more common than being hit by lightning. If you are on the road, you are at risk.

Distracted Driving is Deadly

More than 2,800 people died in the United States in 2018 in traffic accidents involving distracted drivers, and that number only reflects the number that we know about. Countless other accidents may have been caused by distracted driving but not reported as such. Another 400,000 people were injured in such accidents. Roughly 20% of those deaths were among people who were not even in a vehicle on the road – they were pedestrians, bicycle riders, or just close enough to a roadway to be killed in a traffic accident.

Just a few short years ago, ride-share services did not exist. It was less than a decade ago that the name “Uber” entered common usage, and the ride-share service became common in cities nationwide within a couple years. In the last six or seven years, ride-share services have proliferated, with Uber joined by Lyft, Sidecar, and who knows how many other services, some of them national, some regional, some serving only a few areas. No matter which service you use – and one in five Americans have used a ride-share service – the experience is largely the same. You use an app on your smartphone to ask for a ride, the car arrives quickly and gives you a ride to your destination, generally for less – often much less – than a traditional taxi cab would cost. Plus you can give the driver a bad rating if the service is not fast and courteous, an option simply not available with a taxi. What’s not to like?

Ride-Share Vehicles Get in Accidents, Too

The problem, of course, is that ride-shares, like the services offered by Uber and Lyft in Marietta and the surrounding area, are vehicles just like any others on the road. They can and do get into accidents. Ride-share drivers do not have special training, and no one really knows whether ride-share drivers get into accidents more or less frequently than the average driver on the road. A few years ago, a Chicago newspaper tried to find out, and learned instead that no government entity keeps statistics on ride-share accidents, and no ride-share service makes its accident statistics public. It is fair to assume, though, that ride-share drivers get into accidents at the same rate as pretty much every other driver on the road. So who pays if you get injured in a traffic accident while riding in an Uber, Lyft, or other rides-share service vehicle?

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