The Most Common Cause of Collisions
December 14, 2021 | Car Accidents
Negligent driving is the most common cause of motor vehicle collisions that occur within the State of Missouri. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that in New Jersey alone, more than 900 individuals died in fatal traffic accidents that occurred within the state. This statistic does not even count the number of individuals who suffer injuries in St. Louis traffic accidents.
Negligent driving is a broad term and can take on several different forms. Three of the most common types of negligent driving include speeding, distracted motor vehicle operation, and intoxicated driving. If you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision that occurred because of another driver’s negligence, you have a right to monetary compensation.
Since Missouri is a fault-based tort state, you as the accident victim will have to satisfy the legal burden of proof. Therefore, you must demonstrate not only that the at-fault driver did something wrong, but you must also show that you suffered an injury or injuries because of the accident.
Following a St. Louis motor vehicle accident, retain a knowledgeable car accident attorney to represent you in your case as soon as possible. Waiting too long can prevent you from bringing a claim or filing a lawsuit for damages in the first place. Therefore, the earlier you retain a knowledgeable attorney to represent you in your case, the better off you will likely be. An experienced attorney can begin the claims-filing process on your behalf and negotiate with the insurance company, and if necessary, file a lawsuit and let your case get into the court system.
Cities and municipalities set speed limits for a reason. That reason keeps drivers under control and keeps them from operating their vehicles too fast. When a driver significantly exceeds the speed limit when operating a car, they increase the chances of causing an accident. A speeding driver may not stop their vehicle in time to avoid colliding with a stationary object, or worse, with another vehicle or a pedestrian. In addition, a driver who speeds in wet or other inclement weather can hydroplane, causing him/her to lose control of the vehicle.
Speeding is equally dangerous on busy interstate highways and less-traveled country roads. Speeding on a smaller road is sometimes more dangerous since the driver has fewer places to go to avoid a collision. On a smaller road, the driver also runs the risk of potentially colliding with a pedestrian after losing control of his/her vehicle.
Fortunately, certain areas have speed cameras to detect drivers who violate the speed limit, especially around playgrounds and schools. In addition, police officers are often on the lookout for speeders, especially when traffic conditions are heavy and around the holidays. Whenever a police officer or speed camera catches a speeding driver, the driver can receive a citation, and they may need to pay a fine or make a court appearance. In addition, when a speeding driver causes a collision that leads to injuries, the accident victim can bring a claim against the driver’s insurance company.
If you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision that a speeding driver caused, you might be in a position to bring a claim for monetary compensation and damages. Your lawyer can assist you throughout the entire claims-filing process, negotiate on your behalf, and work to get you a favorable settlement offer that fairly compensates you for the injuries and trauma that you endured.
Distracted Motor Vehicle Operation
Receiving or sending a text message while operating a motor vehicle at the same time significantly increases the chances of the driver causing an accident. Specifically, the simple act of receiving or sending a text message on a cell phone, tablet, or another electronic device can divert a driver’s attention away from the road for five seconds or more.
If the driver is traveling 55 miles per hour or greater at that time, the vehicle will cover approximately the length of one football field. Since it only takes a second or two to cause an accident with another vehicle or strike a pedestrian, distracted driving is a very serious problem in Missouri and throughout the country.
In particular, Missouri is extremely lenient when it comes to distracted driving. Those 21 years of age and older can text and drive without legal repercussions, so long as they don’t crash. However, drivers who are under 18 years of age may not do so.
Distracted motor vehicle operation can take other forms besides texting and driving. For example, a distracted driver might be making or receiving a phone call in his or her vehicle without using an approved Bluetooth or other hands-free devices. In addition, loud music playing in the car can prove to be a distraction under certain circumstances.
Likewise, when a driver turns his or her head to discipline a young child in the back seat, that also constitutes distracted driving. Individuals who are roughhousing and making noise in the car can also divert the driver’s attention from the road and cause an accident.
If you are the victim of a distracted driving accident, you might be entitled to pursue monetary compensation from the distracted driver’s insurance company. A personal injury car accident attorney in Missouri can review the facts of your accident with you and assist you with filing the necessary claim to pursue monetary compensation for your injuries.
Intoxicated and Drugged Driving
Just like speeding and distracted driving, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence increases the chances of a serious motor vehicle crash. In the State of Missouri, drivers who use their vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more or per se intoxicated. Other drivers, including commercial drivers and minors, must follow a stricter legal standard.
For example, the BAC cut-off for commercial motor vehicle drivers, including commercial truck drivers, is 0.04 percent. Likewise, there is effectively a zero-tolerance policy for minors under 21 years of age when operating a vehicle. These drivers must not have any alcohol in their systems while operating a motor vehicle on Missouri roadways.
Just because a driver is not per se intoxicated, though, does not necessarily mean that alcohol has impaired the driver’s abilities in some way. When a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the driver can suffer from delayed reaction time. In addition, the driver’s vision may become blurry, and he/she might not appreciate speeds or distances between themselves and other vehicles.
When a police officer determines that a driver is illegally under the influence, he or she can arrest the driver for DUI. In addition to facing potential criminal penalties, such as fines and jail time, the offending driver can also be subject to civil penalties. Specifically, an accident victim who suffers injuries in a drunk driving accident can bring a claim against the intoxicated driver’s motor vehicle insurance company.
Drunk driving is not the only form of intoxicated driving. Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of certain drugs or alcohol can also lead to motor vehicle collisions. Some drugs can cause drivers to become sleepy at the wheel and slow their reactions to situations that arise on the road.
If you have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle collision that a drunk or drugged driver caused, you can seek compensation from the offending driver’s insurance company. A car accident lawyer in St. Louis can set out your legal options and help you decide on the best way to pursue compensation in your car accident case.
Fielding Settlement Offers From the Insurance Company Following a Car Accident
After a car accident victim has completed all of his/her medical treatment, a lawyer can file a personal injury claim with the insurance company (typically the at-fault driver’s insurer). The lawyer will forward a settlement demand letter, as well as other vital documents, to the insurance company. Those documents will include all related medical records and bills, lost wage statements, photographs, witness statements, and victim impact statements.
The insurance company adjuster will review all of this information and may make an offer to resolve the case through settlement. Even when the insurance company accepts fault for the accident, the initial offer is unlikely to be the best offer. The lawyer will typically need to negotiate with the insurance company adjuster several times to reach an offer that is worth considering.
If the insurance company adjuster refuses to compensate you fairly for your injuries, you always have the option of litigating your case in the court system. Litigation begins when the accident victim’s lawyer files a lawsuit in the case. Settlement negotiations can continue after that point. However, if the case does not resolve through settlement, the parties can take the case to a jury trial. If the case ultimately goes to trial, the jury will decide all disputed issues in the case, such as fault and damages.
Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like arbitration or mediation might also be available. During mediation, a pre-appointed mediator helps the parties actively work towards a resolution, while at arbitration, a pre-appointed arbitrator decides the issue of damages. A St. Louis car accident lawyer can help you make the best decisions in your case that have the greatest chances of getting you compensated fairly.
Damages in Missouri Car Accident Cases
Victims of car accidents that result from negligence can suffer severe injuries and damages. The injuries that an accident victim suffers often depend upon how their body moves about in the car at the point of impact. For example, an abrupt movement forwards and backward or from side to side can result in a soft tissue injury, such as a strain or sprain. When a part of the accident victim’s body strikes something in the vehicle, the accident victim can suffer a broken bone and/or a traumatic head or brain injury, such as a concussion.
All of these injuries require a certain amount of medical treatment, depending upon their severity. For example, the accident victim might need to follow up at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center following the accident. He or she might also need to attend medical appointments, undergo surgery, or attend physical therapy and rehabilitation sessions.
All of this treatment can cause a significant amount of money, and accident victims deserve to recover compensation even if their insurance company pays for some or all of their related medical treatment costs. In addition, victims of car accidents may need to miss time away from their jobs so that they can get the treatment they need and fully recover from their injuries.
When that happens, car accident victims can pursue and recover lost wage compensation. Suppose an injured car accident victim suffers a permanent disability or injury in the accident and cannot return to the same job or occupation. In that case, the accident victim can bring a claim for lost earning capacity.
In addition, car accident victims deserve to recover compensation for their past and present inconvenience, emotional distress, pain, and suffering. They can also receive compensation for loss of the ability to use a body part, such as in a paralysis injury case, and loss of quality of life.
In some instances, car accident injuries can wind up being permanent, and the accident victim might have to live with the pain and suffering for the remainder of their lives. These accident victims can pursue monetary compensation for all future pain, suffering, and inconvenience that they will have to experience due to their car accident injuries. A knowledgeable car accident attorney can advocate for you throughout your car accident claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and get you the compensation to make you whole again.