Car Accident Cases
Car accidents happen throughout the United States every day, but no two accidents are identical. Different types of car crashes can cause different types of car accident injuries. Injuries can also vary widely in how severe they are and how they affect a person’s health and future.
Regardless of the type of accident you’ve experienced or the injuries you are now facing, it’s wise to talk to an experienced New York City car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you protect your legal rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. At Zlotolow & Associates, we’re passionate about helping our injured clients fight for what’s theirs.
Schedule a free consultation now to discuss your car accident injury claim.
Most Common Types of Car Accidents
The most common types of car crashes include:
A rear-end collision occurs when one vehicle crashes into the back of another. Rear-end crashes are extremely common in situations in which one driver is following too closely (tailgating) behind another and fails to stop in time to avoid hitting the car in the lead. Motorcyclists and bicyclists can also become the victims of rear-end crashes if a driver is not paying attention or fails to stop in time.
Whiplash, also known as neck strain or neck sprain, is one of the most common rear-end crash injuries. Injuries to the middle or lower back, concussions, severe bruising, and broken bones can also occur.
A “T-bone” crash occurs when one vehicle hits another at a perpendicular angle. These types of accidents most often occur at intersections, when one vehicle turns into the path of another or when a vehicle that should have stopped for turning traffic fails to do so.
Driver inattention or negligence is a top cause of these types of crashes, although in some cases they can result from problems with the brakes or steering. When a vehicle malfunction appears to be the cause, it is important to determine whether a hidden defect or negligent repair work contributed to the crash.
Sideswiping occurs when a vehicle attempts to merge into traffic or to change lanes, but it fails to clear the front or back of another vehicle that is traveling in the same direction. When a driver does not check his or her blind spots carefully before merging or changing lanes, a sideswipe can more easily occur. Speeding and passing on the right also increase the risk that a car won’t be seen when other drivers check their blind spots, which might result in a sideswipe.
Sideswipes can be extremely dangerous ─ and fatal ─ when they involve a passenger vehicle or truck hitting a motorcyclist or bicyclist. They can also cause catastrophic injuries or death when the sideswipe forces a vehicle across the center line and into oncoming traffic, resulting in a head-on collision.
Single-vehicle crashes are among the most common types of auto accidents. At first, a single-vehicle accident seems as if it must be the fault of the driver who crashed the vehicle. However, many drivers involved in a so-called “single-vehicle” accident did not cause the crash and could not have prevented it.
For instance, swerving to avoid a T-bone or sideswipe accident, being surprised by a tight curve that was negligently designed, or experiencing a sudden vehicle malfunction can all result in a single-vehicle crash, no matter how carefully the driver operated the vehicle.
Common Factors that Contribute to Car Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gathers and analyzes car accident statistics nationwide. In a 2015 report, the NHTSA analyzed what it called the “critical reasons” for fatal car accidents — the primary cause or trigger of each accident. The NHTSA analyzed several categories of critical reasons, including human behavior, vehicle features, and factors in the environment.
The report found that the following factors are among the most common reasons that car accidents of all types take place:
- Human error. The NHTSA identified the driver’s behavior as the “critical reason” behind 94 percent of fatal auto accidents attributed to human error. Inattention or inebriation leading to a failure to recognize a danger in time (such as noticing a light had changed to red or that the car ahead had stopped) was behind 41 percent of the accidents and was the single biggest reason a driver might cause a wreck. By contrast, passenger behavior accounted for only 2 percent of crashes involving human error, with people outside the vehicle accounting for the other 4 percent.
- Vehicle problems. A problem with a tire or wheel was cited as the “critical cause” in 35 percent of the fatal motor vehicle accidents the NHTSA examined and attributed to vehicular issues. Brakes contributed to 22 percent of those types of wrecks, and steering or suspension problems accounted for 3 percent. Approximately 40 percent of the accidents were categorized as a vehicle problem of “unknown” origin. Negligent maintenance or repairs, as well as hidden defects in factory or replacement parts, can cause vehicle problems that may trigger a crash.
- Environmental causes. Roads made slippery by ice, water, or debris were the “critical reason” behind 50 percent of the motor vehicle accidents attributed to environmental causes. Glare accounted for 17 percent, while an obstructed view accounted for 11 percent. Fog, rain, snow, problems with signs or signals, or poor road design were other critical reasons a crash might occur.
Different types of mistakes by drivers, different vehicle problems, and different environmental issues can all result in an accident. For instance, tailgating is a very common cause of rear-end accidents. However, some rear-end accidents result from slippery road surfaces, particularly when combined with speeding or tailgating. Rollover accidents, which are rare but often fatal, are more likely to occur when the road surface is slippery or when a driver has had to initiate emergency maneuvers to avoid being sideswiped or colliding with an object in the road.
Although drivers cannot control all of these factors, they can take some steps to keep themselves and their passengers as safe as possible. Regular use of seatbelts and keeping a vehicle in good repair are a good start.
When an accident does occur, victims should promptly see a doctor for any injuries and take detailed notes of what has happened. Working with an experienced car accident lawyer is also important for victims who need full and fair compensation to get their lives back on track.
Keeping an Injury Journal: How to Help Yourself After an Accident
After any type of car accident, one of the most valuable steps you can take is to keep an “injury journal.” Your journal helps keep all your important notes in one place. It also serves as a log of the days and weeks following your accident.
Start by creating a section for information about the accident:
- Include the date, time, and location of the crash.
- Briefly describe the type of automobile accident, such as a rear-end crash, a front-end crash, or a sideswipe.
- Write down what you remember about the weather: Was it sunny? Rainy?
- Note what you remember about the condition of the road, particularly details like whether the road was slippery and the condition of the pavement.
- If you can, include photographs and draw a diagram to show where vehicles were during the crash and what direction they were traveling.
Next, include a section for your medical information:
- Write down how you felt at the crash site.
- If you received emergency care or you’ve had other follow-up appointments since the automobile accident, write down the date and time, who you saw, and what they recommended.
- Making similar notes after every future appointment you have is a habit that can help you keep track of your doctor’s recommendations, follow your treatment plan, and stay more involved in your medical care.
- Make notes about how your symptoms have changed or improved between the accident date and today.
Finally, use your journal to document how your injury is affecting your everyday life:
- What tasks does your injury prevent you from doing, and what are you doing to ensure those tasks get done instead? For example, have you had to hire a babysitter or a lawn service?
- Did you have to take time off work, and what did your employer say?
- How has your injury prevented you from taking part in activities you once enjoyed?
Bring your journal to your doctor’s appointments and to appointments with your lawyer. Your doctor may gain insight into your health based on your notes, and your lawyer can use the information as part of a strong case for the compensation you need now and as you heal.
Choose a New York City Car Accident Lawyer Who Will Fight for You
Attorney Scott Zlotolow and the team at Zlotolow & Associates have worked for more than two decades to protect our clients and secure the compensation they deserve. Having an experienced car accident attorney on your side can take the burden off you so you can focus on your health and recovery. To learn more, contact our office today and schedule a free consultation.