For most of us, owning and driving a car is something we mostly take for granted; it is a way to get from A to B, it offers independence and freedom and is an essential part of family life. With over 50,000 car accidents occurring each year in the state, however, there is always a chance that your simple trip could end in tragedy.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Sadly, there are a few causes of car and auto accidents, which are all too common, and which can cause serious injury or even death to other road users. Some of the most likely causes include:
Driver error is one of the most common causes of car accidents across the United States, and incidents typically arise from a driver who is distracted. Any distraction from the road has the potential to cause a severe injury or accident, and this can include eating or drinking while trying to drive, consulting a map or GPS, changing the music or entertainment system, applying makeup or combing hair, texting or talking on the phone, or allowing yourself to be distracted by another passenger in the car. These actions divert attention from the road and have the potential to be fatal.
Drivers can also cause accidents if they ignore road signs or local laws and requirements. Running stop signs, speeding, and ignoring one way systems are all dangerous and put the driver and other road users at serious risk of harm or injury.
Anyone who operates an automobile while under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses a severe hazard to the lives, safety, and wellbeing of every other road user. Both drugs and alcohol have several effects on the body, including slowing reaction times, dulling reflexes, reducing concentration and awareness, and placing the driver out of full control of the vehicle. If you are injured in an accident that involved a drunk driver, or one under the influence of drugs, then you are very likely to have a case for personal injury.
In some cases, the error in question could be with the vehicle and not the driver directly. A car with worn tires or brakes is dangerous and means that whoever is behind the wheel has far less control. A faulty steering system can be catastrophic, and even everyday wear and tear has the potential to cause a fatal accident if it is left unchecked and untreated. This does not, however, absolve the other party of blame. For example, you may be able to prove that the driver of the vehicle was aware or should have been aware that their car was in a state of disrepair. This state of disrepair directly contributed to the accident. They may be liable for paying damages and compensation to the victim, or the victim’s family, in a personal injury or wrongful death case.
Will I Be Permitted to Claim Damages After an Auto Accident?
If you find yourself the victim in an auto accident, you may have a case for personal injury, depending on the nature of the accident and the actions of the other party involved. If it can be found that the actions of the other party were negligent or reckless and that they directly contributed to the accident, which resulted in your injuries, a judge is likely to rule that they are liable. In this case, the other party will likely become responsible for paying damages and compensation to the victim. This can be used to cover many expenses, including:
- Any medical bills or expenses incurred as a result of the injury, both at the time of the accident and in the future. Examples include surgery, ambulance costs and emergency room visits, ongoing prescriptions, painkillers or medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation, access to counseling and psychological support, and specialized equipment. In addition, if the auto accident resulted in the wrongful death of the victim, the survivors and named representative will also be able to claim damages for any outstanding medical bills and costs left by the deceased.
- Loss of earnings, again, both at the time of the accident and as a direct result of the injury. If the accident left the victim unable to work for a short period, any loss of income would be covered by the damages. If the injury sustained means that the victim’s future earning capacity is significantly reduced, for example, through being required to take a job at a lower pay grade, this could also be included. Once again, if the injury resulted in death, the family will also be able to pay for the loss of earnings and income, which may directly impact the family, and dependents left behind.
- Funeral or burial expenses in cases where the accident resulted in the wrongful death of the victim.
- Pain and suffering of the victim, their families, and anyone else who may have been impacted by the accident.
What Does ‘No-Fault’ Mean?
It is important to note that Utah is one of a handful of states operating under the ‘no-fault’ system, and this means that likely in the first instance, victims of auto accidents will be required to file a claim under their insurance provider to access compensation and damages – regardless of who was ultimately responsible for the accident.
In some cases, your claim will meet the necessary prerequisites, and this allows you to step outside of the no-fault system and take out a personal injury claim directly against the at-fault driver. Comparative negligence also means that any blame you are assigned for the accident will have a direct impact on any compensation which you are eligible to receive; if, for example, a judge rules you 15% to blame for the crash, you will find that any damages and compensation you are awarded will be deduced by that 15%.