Car Accidents – An Overview

Car accidents are a major cause of death in the United States. The carnage on the roadway resulted in congressional action. Most notably, in 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the Highway Safety Act of 1966 were enacted. These acts were envisioned to reduce accidents and the effects of accidents. In addition, the concerns with safety at that time led to the establishment of the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Law

With the establishment of NHTSA and other safety agencies, a great deal of effort was expended in developing safety standards that were expected to impinge on the safety of the motoring public. These included safety standards pertaining to seat belts, rearview mirrors, windshields, braking systems, and so forth. In addition, the legislative climate led to proposals regarding motor vehicle inspection, driver education, highway design, and so forth. As time progressed, the number of proposals envisioned to reduce accidents and the effects of accidents blossomed.

Almost all car accident lawsuits are based on the law of negligence. The law of negligence insists that we owe each other reasonable care. Negligence is defined in terms of a ‘reasonable person’: the injurer is found negligent if he did not behave as a reasonable person would have. The ‘reasonable person’ concept goes back to Roman law, where the ‘bonus pater familias’ was the measure with which behavior was compared.

If you want to succeed in your car accident lawsuit, the other driver or someone else who is named in the lawsuit was negligent and that the negligence of that person caused the accident which resulted in your injuries. To prove negligence in court — to prove that someone breached his or her duty of care toward another — it isn’t necessary that the defendant actually have foreseen a danger.


In a car accident, it is important to determine the at fault party. Generally, the party at fault is the one who has been negligent. In some cases, it may be obvious as to who is at fault. However, in some cases you may need to review the accident to determine who is at fault. Determining who is at fault in a car accident is a complex process and is best left to an expert – an experienced car accident attorney. To determine who is at fault for a car accident, here are some of the factors that can play a vital role:

  • Violation of road signs and traffic signals
  • Failure to observe traffic rules
  • Failure to observe the speed limit
  • Disregarding traffic and weather conditions
  • Impaired driving

Other Causes

Driving with scant or without any regard for the safety of other on the road is referred to as reckless driving. In every state, one of the conditions for obtaining a driver’s license or learner’s permit is that the applicant agrees to be financially responsible for injuries or property damage he or she causes as a result of negligent or reckless driving. Reckless driving including speeding, improper lane changes, disregard for traffic rules, disobeying traffic signals and signs.

Drunk Driving or DUI is probably the most common offense in this country. DUI stands for driving under the influence. In some jurisdictions it is referred to as Driving While Intoxicated or DWI. In simple terms it means driving the vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs. Consumption of alcohol or drugs can impair the mind and affect a person’s ability to drive. In case the accident is caused by a drunk driver, besides the driver, the person or commercial establishment that provided the driver with alcohol can be held liable for the resultant injuries.

Besides reckless and drunk driving there can be other causes of an accident. Victims of car accidents can seek compensation from multiple parties. An experienced car accident attorney can review the circumstances and advice you of the parties from whom you can claim compensation in a car accident.

Third Party Negligence

Sometimes the driver might not be the one at fault. For example, the driver would have seen the pedestrian and would have applied the brakes in time to stop. But the car failed to stop because the brakes did not work. In such cases, the driver is not the one at fault. If the braking equipment was defective, then the manufacturer of the breaking equipment will be the liable party. Similarly, if the brakes were recently repaired but failed to work, then the mechanic who worked on the brakes can be held liable.

External factors such a road and weather conditions can also contribute to a car accident. If poor road conditions are the cause of the accident, then the county or state will be liable. However special rules are applicable when suing the government for injuries.

Getting Legal Help

A car accident injury claim is complex. Seek the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney. The attorney can review the accident to determine the liabilities of the parties and assist you get the compensation you rightly deserve for your injuries.

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