For those who have been injured in a serious car accident, the physical pain of an injury is often accompanied by emotional turmoil and an intense feeling of injustice. After all, virtually every accident is avoidable. When you are facing a long and arduous recovery, or when you are adjusting to the new reality of life with a disability or life without a loved one, the unfairness of it can seem overwhelming.
In most cases, an accident is preventable and avoidable. It should not have happened and would not have happened if everyone involved was practicing safe and responsible driving. When a driver is reckless, distracted, or careless, the resulting fallout can be devastating for accident victims and their families. That is why it is so important to hold accountable those responsible for causing or contributing to a traffic accident.
Sometimes, people who are suffering after an accident are hesitant to take legal action against a negligent driver. After all, chances are good that the person who caused the accident never meant to hurt anyone. Still, his or her actions are what led to the crash, and he or she should be responsible for the consequences of the decision to drive carelessly.
Texting while driving is a choice. Drinking before driving is a choice. Speeding or running a stoplight is a choice. Being hit by a distracted or drunk driver is not. Those who make the decisions that jeopardize others are liable for the results of their choices. Pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses from those who caused them can bring financial peace of mind in an uncertain time, providing the means necessary to obtain the fullest recovery following a serious accident.
There are a number of factors that cause or contribute to motor vehicle accidents: drowsy driving, medical events behind the wheel, adverse weather conditions, traffic violations, distraction, roadway obstructions, vehicle malfunction, animals or pedestrians darting into the roadway, and alcohol impairment are a few of the myriad causes of accidents. It is rare that an accident is unavoidable; in most cases, attention to detail and careful observance of the rules of the road can prevent an accident.
Unfortunately, statistics show that despite the preventable nature of car wrecks, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for individuals aged 11 to 27, and one of top two leading causes of unintentional injury death across all age groups. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crashes in 2012 killed 33,561 people and injured more than 2.3 million more.
The top three causes of traffic accidents are all completely avoidable:
By choosing to focus on the road and the task of safe driving, to maintain a speed that is within the posted speed limit and safe for conditions, and to refrain from driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, drivers limit their likelihood of causing an accident. If all drivers made such responsible choices, the number of traffic accidents would plummet dramatically.
Driver distraction is by far the leading cause of crashes because it takes so many forms. While cell phone use and texting while driving are among the most widely known types of distraction, they are not actually the leading cause of driver distraction. Rather, simple daydreaming accounts for the vast majority of motor vehicle accidents. This mental distraction occurs when a driver allows his or her thoughts to wander to something other than the task of driving.
A two-year study by the Erie Insurance Group, supported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, looked at 6,500 distraction-related fatal accidents. In this study, 12 percent of drivers reported using a cell phone or other electronic device prior to the crash, but an overwhelming 62 percent of drivers in fatal distracted driving accidents reported being “lost in thought.” This inattention to the roadway can cause a driver to miss traffic lights or stop signs, change lanes without checking mirrors or blind spots, or slam into the back of a stopped vehicle.
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) reports that unsafe speed contributed to 8,886 crashes in Oklahoma in 2012. Of these speeding accidents, 172 proved fatal.
Unsafe speed accidents in the state resulted in nearly 6,000 injuries and 192 deaths in Oklahoma that year. Speed-related accident fatalities comprised more than a quarter of total fatalities—27.1 percent.
Often, speed is a contributing factor along with other driver conditions, such as intoxication or distraction. While only a small percentage of drivers in speed related accidents (6.6 percent) also had alcohol impairment as a contributing factor, the combination of alcohol and speed is particularly deadly. Approximately 29 percent of crashes involving both speed and an alcohol-impaired driver were fatal accidents.
While unsafe speed causes more accidents than drunk driving, alcohol-related accidents prove to be more deadly. According to the OHSO, there were 4,291 alcohol-involved crashes in Oklahoma in 2012—fewer than half the number caused by speeding. However, while unsafe speed claimed 192 lives, alcohol-related accidents killed 261, accounting for nearly 37 percent of total traffic fatalities in Oklahoma.
Not everyone involved in an accident with an impaired or intoxicated driver dies, though. More than 1,880 people were injured in drunk driving accidents that year, and of those, more than 400 suffered injuries so catastrophic that they are classified as “incapacitating injuries.”
If you are the survivor of a car accident, or if you are grieving after a loved one has been killed in a fatal collision, you have every right to pursue financial compensation from those whose careless and reckless choices led to your physical, emotional, and economic losses. Although a legal battle may be the furthest thing from your mind in the midst of pain and suffering, getting the maximum compensation for your losses can protect your family and your recovery. Call (405) 608-4990 for a free consultation with a compassionate personal injury attorney committed to protecting your best interests following a serious accident.