Car accidents are a major source of injury and death across the U.S. While some of the causes of car accidents are the same regardless of whether you are driving in a busy place like New York City or rural parts of the state. However, some causes are more common in one region than another.
If a car accident injured you, an experienced Brooklyn car accident lawyer can provide information about the process of obtaining compensation for the expenses and psychological impacts of your injury.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in the U.S.
Most car accidents result from human error.
The term “human error” has many forms, however, including:
- Distracted driving. More than 3,000 people die and many thousands more are injured on U.S. roadways each year because of distracted driving. A driving distraction causes the driver to take his or her hands from the wheel, his or her eyes from the road, or his or her mind from the task of safe driving. Texting and other mobile device use are of particular concern, as it presents all three kinds of distractions. In fact, in the time it takes to read or reply to a text when driving at highway speeds, an individual can travel the distance of a football field without both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and attention on driving.
- Impairment. Alcohol impairment is a factor in crashes that result in more than 10,000 deaths a year. Alcohol reduces the brain’s ability to function, creating deficits in the skills needed for safe driving. The legal level of impairment for operating a motor vehicle on most U.S. roadways, including the streets of Brooklyn, is below 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood for most drivers. However, impairment does not start when a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches 0.08. Instead, impairment begins with the first drink. Some of the driving deficits commonly associated with impaired driving include the inability to multitask, slowed responses to emergency driving situations, the inability to maintain one’s own lane of travel, difficulty maintaining one’s speed, and the inability to exercise good judgment. Many drugs, including illicit drugs and prescription or over-the-counter drugs, can also impair an individual’s ability to drive a car safely.
- Speeding. More than 9,000 people lose their lives each year from speeding drivers. Speeding refers not only to driving faster than the posted speed limit, but also driving too fast for the weather and traffic-related conditions. Speeding reduces the time a driver needs to perceive danger and respond by braking, and it also increases the distance that the brakes need to stop the vehicle. Likewise, speeding increases the severity of a crash while reducing the effectiveness of a vehicle’s safety equipment, including the steel frame, seat belts, and airbags.
- Fatigued driving: Fatigued driving occurs when physical or mental exhaustion impairs the driver’s ability to operate the motor vehicle safely. Any driver can become a victim of fatigue at times in his or her life, such as shortly after the arrival of a new baby or when working two jobs. However, fatigued driving is more common among night and swing shift workers and long-haul truck drivers who spend many hours a day driving. Extreme fatigue creates similar deficits as a BAC of 0.08, including the inability to maintain a travel lane and slowed responses to emergency driving situations.
- Failure to yield: Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to other roadway users in many circumstances, including at a red light or a stop sign, at a crosswalk, when turning left at an intersection that does not have a turn-lane arrow, and when backing onto a roadway from a private drive. One of the most deadly types of accidents to occur—a broadside collision, also commonly known as a T-bone accident—is generally caused by failure to yield the right-of-way.
- Wrong-way driving: Brooklyn’s roadways can confuse drivers who are not from the borough, and regularly include one-way thoroughfares. Unaware, distracted, or impaired drivers can enter these roadways traveling in the wrong direction, which increases the risk of a particularly dangerous head-on collision. Head-on collisions tend to cause more severe accidents due to the forward motion of both vehicles, which increases the impact of the collision.
- Aggressive driving and road rage: The terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” are often used interchangeably to refer to the same type of driving behavior. These are actually two different types of risky driving behaviors. Aggressive driving refers to a series of traffic infractions that people often commit when attempting to navigate through congestion, including improper lane changes, tailgating, red-light running, and speeding. Road rage, on the other hand, refers to the attempt of a driver to injure others using his or her vehicle or, in some cases, another weapon. Road rage can include aggressive driving, shouting at other drivers, rude gestures, honking at others in annoyance, getting out of one’s vehicle to physically confront another driver, or even attempting to bump or ram another vehicle off the roadway.
Brooklyn-Specific Causes of Car Accident Injuries
As previously mentioned, there are often causes of collision that are more common in certain regions than others. There are a couple of features of Brooklyn that increase the number of accidents that take place here.
Those features include:
- Inclement weather: New York has a subtropical climate, meaning that it has hot, humid summers and cold and often snowy winters, along with plenty of moisture year-round. Inclement weather can result in slippery road surfaces and impaired visibility and can increase the risk of an accident. One recent January, black ice accidents overwhelmed New York City 911 dispatchers with 1,800 calls in 12 hours, with nearly 60 crashes involving MTA buses. Brooklyn was the site of the highest number of those bus accidents, with 19. Inclement weather only offers a partial excuse for accidents. You can still hold liable drivers who slide on the road because of inclement conditions for the harm they cause you.
- Narrow roadways: Many parts of Brooklyn feature narrow roads with vehicles parked on either side. This reduces the visibility that the driver needs to navigate through the road without striking other vehicles, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
- Traffic congestion: Narrow roadways that feature many roadway users, including commercial trucks and buses, passenger cars and taxis, and bicyclists and pedestrians, further add to the risk of collision. Brooklyn regularly has the highest number of accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Types of Car Accident Injuries
Injuries commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. The brain is one of the body’s most important organs, as it controls all of the body’s other functions and involuntary responses. Despite this, the brain has only a limited ability to heal itself from injury. A traumatic brain injury can disrupt all parts of the injured person’s life, and can result in deficits that prevent the injured person from earning the same income as before. Some of the deficits commonly experienced by an individual with a TBI include memory loss, the inability to control one’s behavior and emotions, difficulty with communicating with others verbally or understanding verbal communication, and the inability to move in a balanced, coordinated manner.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist. The bony vertebrae and cushioned discs of the spinal column protect it. Like the brain, the spine only has a limited ability to heal from damage. A person with a spinal cord injury will often permanently lose function and sensation below the injury site—a condition known as paralysis. Those who suffered a high spinal cord injury in the neck or upper back may paralyze the arms, legs, abdomen, torso, hips, and pelvis. This is known as tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Injuries occurring lower on the spinal cord will generally result in paralysis in the legs, feet, hips, and pelvis, which is known as paraplegia.
- Bone fractures, including broken arms or legs, pelvic fractures, and even fractured vertebrae in the back or neck.
- Limb amputations. Sometimes, an individual’s limb will be severed during the accident because of a crushing injury or having it severed by sharp metal or other objects. For other individuals, the damage to the limb can be so severe that the limb is surgically removed after the accident to promote healing of the body.
- Soft tissue injuries. Car accidents commonly cause whiplash, or damage to the muscles in the neck. Other types of soft tissue injuries include severe bruising and torn muscles or ligaments.
- Burns. A number of the fluids used to make a vehicle run are flammable, meaning that there is a high risk of an occupant suffering burns from fire or even from the caustic chemicals themselves during the accident.
- Cuts and abrasions. With plenty of broken glass and sharp pieces of metal produced in a car accident, it is not unusual for a victim to suffer cuts and abrasions. These injuries increase the sufferer’s risk of acquiring an infection or experiencing significant scarring or disfigurement.
Let a Brooklyn Car Accident Attorney Help With Your Car Accident Case
If a Brooklyn car accident injured you and someone else’s reckless or careless actions caused it, you could seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury through a lawsuit.
To ensure your right to the maximum amount of compensation in your case, a car accident attorney can provide:
- A free case evaluation, in which you can obtain answers to your legal questions and learn more about the process of seeking compensation.
- A determination of all liable parties in your accident and all associated insurance resources.
- A valuation of your case that is based on the expenses and impacts you have already incurred because of your injury as well as those you will likely incur.
- Negotiations to settle with the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
- Filing of your lawsuit paperwork before the statutory deadline.
- Gathering and organizing evidence to help prove your claim.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
For your free case evaluation, contact a Brooklyn car accident attorney today.