The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) publishes a yearly report on the number of car crashes that occur across the nation every year. According to the IIHS, in 2014, 824 South Carolina residents tragically lost their lives in car crashes. Unfortunately, most accidents would have been completely avoidable, but for the negligent actions of one of the drivers, such as the decision to operate a vehicle while sleep deprived or distracted. Fortunately, injured parties can obtain compensation for their losses, so if you sustained an injury in a car crash, it is vital to speak with a car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Car crashes are unpredictable and can occur in a number of different ways, but there are some causes that occur on a regular basis, including:
- Alcohol or drug consumption;
- Distracted driving;
- Failing to utilize a seat belt;
- Unsafely changing lanes;
- Driving in the wrong direction;
- Turning improperly;
- Poor visibility;
- Drowsy driving;
- Tire blowouts;
- Street racing; and
- Road debris.
Although most car accidents involve collisions between at least two vehicles, it is not unheard of for a crash to be caused by a defectively designed car or an improperly manufactured car part. A party’s failure to maintain his or her vehicle can also contribute to an accident as can the presence of any road hazards. In these types of cases, manufacturers, distributors, and retail sellers can all be held responsible if their negligence contributed to the car’s defect.
Resulting car crashes can have serious repercussions for the occupants. Many car crash survivors suffer broken bones, lacerations, back and neck trauma, head injuries, and even paralysis. Some injuries have permanent consequences, leaving the victim scarred, disfigured, or disabled. The cost of treatment can be expensive and many who are injured in an accident are forced to pay huge sums of money for surgeries, therapy, and medication. The injury may even be so severe that the individual is unable to go back to work, which can be stressful for those households that only have a single income. This is especially frustrating when the crash was caused by the negligence of another person, so for those injured in car accidents, it is vital to retain the services of a skilled attorney who will aggressively represent their interests.
Often, the severity of the injuries sustained in a car accident depends on a number of factors, including the:
- Number of vehicles involved;
- Age and gender of the occupants;
- Size of the cars;
- Relative speed of both cars; and
- Vehicle design.
Reports published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that 60 percent of fatal car crashes involve only one vehicle. Data supplied by the NHTSA also revealed that the most common harmful crash-related event that caused injuries and property damage was a collision with another moving vehicle.
According to the IIHS, more men than women die in car crashes each year. This is mainly attributed to the fact that men drive more miles on average than women and are more likely to engage in risky driving practices, such as driving while impaired or speeding. For this reason, crashes involving male drivers are usually more severe than those involving female drivers. The data also reveals that women are more likely than men to sustain an injury or die in crashes of equal severity. However, these gender difference in fatality rates decrease with age.
Most crash-related injuries are sustained by occupants of smaller vehicles. These lighter cars have less structure to absorb impact from another object or vehicle, so occupants are more likely to be affected by the force of the crash. Trucks and sports utility vehicles are also more likely to be involved in rollovers, which are often fatal. Because they are heavier, occupants of these vehicles are less likely to sustain serious injuries in multi-car crashes.
What to Do if You Have Been in an Accident
Regardless of the type of accident, there are a number of steps that all occupants who are involved in a car crash should take, including:
- Contacting emergency responders. This will ensure that all injured parties receive potentially life saving medical care as soon as possible.
- Contacting law enforcement. Once police officers arrive on the scene, they will take statements from all of the parties involved. This gives the victim a good opportunity to recite all of the facts while they are still fresh in his or her mind. It’s also a good idea to obtain a copy of the police report once it is filed.
- Collecting contact information from the other parties involved in the accident, including all passengers. This should include names, drivers’ licenses and cars’ license numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. It is also important to obtain the contact information of any witnesses who may have seen the accident. If the case is brought to trial, their testimony may be key to establishing what happened.
- Taking pictures of any property damage. This will help insurance adjusters determine the amount of compensation the injured party is owed based on a comparison of the condition of the car prior to the accident and its condition after the collision. Don’t forget to obtain the insurance company’s damage valuation and to get two independent repair or replacement estimates.
- Requesting copies of all records of hospital visits, medical bills, and other costs. It’s also important to record the names of all doctors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals who provide treatment. Documenting any and all injuries will make it easier to establish at trial or during settlement proceedings not only the severity of the injury, but also its cause.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Sustaining an injury in a car crash can take an extreme physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families. Victims can and should be compensated for their losses, so if you are a South Carolina resident and were involved in a car crash, please contact the Connell Law Firm by submitting one of our standard contact forms and we’ll have an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer help you schedule a consultation.