When a driver is in a car accident, it is important that they evaluate whether or not injures or property damage are involved. In both cases, New Jersey’s car accident laws often make it difficult to get adequate compensation as well. That is why those involved in a car accident need to contact a lawyer to evaluate if their case needs help beyond what the insurance companies are willing to pay.
What Determines the Severity of a Car Accident?
There are many factors that contribute to the severity of a collision, such as:
- How fast the drivers were going at the time of the collision.
- Where the cars collided, such as an intersection or highway.
- The size of the vehicles involved.
- Whether or not the people involved were wearing their seat belts, including passengers.
- If airbags were deployed in the vehicles.
- The seating positions of the drivers and passengers, including if they were turned sideways or looking behind them during impact.
Additionally, the place of impact is also a crucial factor in how extensive the damage will be to the occupants and property. For example, in front-end car collisions, the steering wheel can go into the driver’s chest, which will cause bruising and possibly broken ribs and severe internal injuries. Broken ribs often pierce the lungs, which also needs to be dealt with immediately.
Often, the injuries from side-impact crashes, also referred to as T-bone collisions, are far more serious. When a collision hits the back or front end of the car, there is space to buffer the collision before it impacts the passengers. In side-impact crashes, there is a door, window, and the seat. That is why catastrophic injuries are common in side-impact collisions. All of those factors play a role in a collision, along with inclement weather, grading problems, potholes, faulty traffic signals, and auto defects.
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What are Common Car Accident Injuries?
On average, there are over three million people injured each year in car accidents in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Depending on the circumstances of an accident, some injuries are more likely to happen. For example, a van that is hit by a speeding car head-on will likely cause the passengers to be ejected from the vehicle if they are not wearing seat belts. The NHTSA reports that passengers who are ejected from a vehicle during a collision are three times more likely to suffer from fatal injuries compared to those who remained in the vehicle.
It is important to know the different types of car accident injuries. Knowing common car accident injuries will help victims recognize symptoms and help them understand why seeking medical care is extremely important. Listed below are common car accident injuries.
An impact injury is caused by a person’s body hitting an interior object in the car. An example of this would be a person’s head hitting the side window in a crash. Another example is when the knees hit the steering wheel during a collision. The force of a collision can jolt the body and cause a severe impact injury.
Common penetrating injuries are cuts and scrapes. Some people might believe that cuts and scrapes are minor, but that is not always the case. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises are likely very painful and require immediate medical attention. This type of injury results from shattering glass, broken pieces of metal, loose objects, and contact with pavement for those who were ejected during a crash.
Additionally, many people spend a lot of time in their vehicles, which means that drivers often store personal items in their cars. A car accident might produce a lot of flying objects inside the car, such as books, eyeglasses, mugs, water thermoses, purses, backpacks, and dash-mounted navigation systems. All of these items may fly around with force. If a car occupant gets hit by a flying object inside the car, it can cause a penetrating injury.
Soft Tissue Injuries
The term soft tissue refers to the body’s connective tissue, such as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons around the bones that makes movement possible. Soft tissue injuries are very common in collisions, including whiplash.
Whiplash has become synonymous with soft tissue injuries from car accidents, but the soft tissue damage can happen anywhere on the body. Mid-back and lower back muscle sprains are also common following a car accident. Soft tissue injuries are caused when the muscles, ligaments, and tendons become stretched due to sudden movements.
Some head injuries are relatively minor, but they can be severe or even fatal. The sudden and unnatural movements of the body during a crash can cause muscle strains in the neck and back, but the head itself can also be seriously injured.
A car accident victim might suffer from bruises and cuts on their head. Also, a victim’s head could hit the side window or steering wheel and cause a closed head injury. A closed head injury is when the fluid and tissues inside the skull are damaged during the impact of a collision. Closed head injuries can range from concussions to brain damage.
Chest injuries can range from bruising to cuts to severe injuries. Ribs can break, internal organs can be injured, and lungs can be punctured by those broken ribs. Those in the driver’s seat are more susceptible for chest injuries because the driver is positioned behind the steering wheel.
Chest injuries include contusions or bruises, but some damage can be more severe, such as broken ribs or internal injuries. Shoulder harnesses and seat belts can cause chest injuries for anyone involved in the collision.
Spinal Cord Injuries
While it is possible to fracture bones in the back around the spine without breaking the spine, spinal cord injuries can lead to partial paralysis or full paralysis. Broken bones around the spine can lead to immense pain and a long recovery time. Some spinal cord injuries are long-term and permanently change a victim’s life.
Arm and Leg Injuries
The force of impact in a collision can damage an individual’s head or neck as well as injure the person’s arms and legs. Arm and leg injuries can mean bruises and scrapes, but sprains and breaks can happen as well. The driver is especially vulnerable because their legs can hit the steering wheel during a collision.
Internal Organ Damage
The force of impact in a collision can cause severe damage to a victim’s internal organs, including the kidneys, bowels, lungs, spleen, liver, and heart. Internal organ damage is not easily recognizable, which is why it is critical to see a medical professional after a car accident.
Violent car crashes may cause victims to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emotional distress, depression, and sleep disorders. It is common to experience mental trauma after a car accident. A car accident victim who is experiencing emotional distress should speak to a therapist or another professional.
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What are the Different Types of Car Accidents?
There are many different kinds of collisions. A few of the most common car accidents in New Jersey and the United States are listed below.
Many rear-end collisions result from someone not paying attention. Rear-end accidents range from minor to severe, and a common injury that is seen in rear-end collisions is whiplash. This type of crash makes up just under 30 percent of crashes each year on U.S. roads, according to the NHTSA. While a rear-end accident can be expensive, it is usually less damaging than other types of accidents because it often happens in stop-and-go traffic or parking lots, where most drivers are maintaining lower speeds.
It can be the result of someone not paying attention when traffic is slowing down or stopping, and that problem can be made worse by following too closely to the driver in front, which is also known as tailgating. This type of accident often happens at a red light or slowed traffic due to congestion, road work, or an accident.
For drivers to avoid this kind of crash, one of the most crucial steps to take is to avoid distractions in the car. Looking at something else is a common reason for not being able to brake in time. Another step drivers can take to avoid this problem is to change lanes when it is possible if one is being tailgated; this action can cause the driver to avoid an accident.
A side-impact accident could result from of one vehicles failing to yield to another car at an intersection, but this type of collision can happen when a car spins out and crosses into opposing traffic as well. Since there is less space on the side of a vehicle to absorb the impact of the crash, side-impact accidents can be devastating. This type of accident often results from driver negligence. A personal injury lawsuit might be able to be filed by the victim.
Since the hit is taken much harder on the side of a car, injuries are far more likely to happen and be serious. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that side-impact collisions make up about 27 percent of all deaths from car accidents. One common type of side-impact collision is called a T-bone crash, which is when one vehicle perpendicularly impacts the side of another vehicle.
To avoid a side-impact collision, drivers should check oncoming traffic, even when they have the right-of-way. It is important for drivers to not assume that other motorists are following the rules of the road.
Multi-vehicle accidents involve multiple cars and often stretch back or to the side of the original collision. This happens when one vehicle pushes another vehicle into the next vehicle, causing a chain reaction event.
Poor weather conditions can also cause multi-vehicle accidents to happen. However, determining liability requires a thorough investigation because there is often more than one driver found to be at fault. The result is a complicated case for insurance companies and the court.
Multiple impacts are difficult for any vehicle to absorb, no matter how large it is or how many safety features it contains. Since this type of accident is likely to involve more than one negligent driver, it could be difficult to avoid. Motorists should use caution when cars are traveling at high speeds. Drivers should keep an eye on the cars around them. If one car is acting dangerously, it is important to get out of the way as soon as possible.
Rollover Car Accidents
Each year, rollover car accidents cause approximately 30 percent of all fatal occupant injuries, according to the NHTSA. Sports utility vehicles are particularly known for this problem. A rollover can result in a passenger being ejected from the car or the roof, which could collapse onto the occupants inside the vehicle.
The NHTSA reports that about 95 percent of rollover accidents happen because a car’s tire hits an object, such as a curb or bump on the road, while moving forward. The impact of the hit with the ground level obstacle causes the car to roll forward, possibly sideways.
Road safety experts also report that defective design is also responsible for some rollover collisions. SUVs and minivans, two remarkably popular types of vehicles, both have a higher center of gravity than regular cars, so they are more likely to roll. Vehicles are also particularly likely to roll if they were built with defective auto parts. Keeping in mind the top-heavy nature of an SUV or minivan, drivers of these vehicles need to look out for potholes, speed bumps, and curbs.
This type of crash can be avoided by checking blind spots, which means making sure that there are no other vehicles close by when changing lanes. Drivers should frequently use side mirrors when planning to merge or switch lanes. However, using the side mirrors and turning one’s head might not be enough. Motorists should pay special attention to blind spots.
In some instances, the driver who has the right-of-way may wait for another car before merging, which could cause a collision. In some cases, a driver will negligently speed ahead to try to beat traffic when merging or switching lanes, which is just as dangerous. Motorists should avoid speeding at all times, particularly near highway exit and on-ramps. Oncoming cars will have less time to see the speeding car when they are attempting to merge.
Head-on crashes are extremely dangerous and often fatal. When a head-on collision occurs at a high speed, it can make it difficult for the seat belt, airbag, and other safety features of the car to absorb the impact to protect the passengers inside the vehicle. Additionally, head-on collisions may involve animals, trees, road signs, and utility poles. This type of accident often results from a motorist driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Drugs or alcohol can cause the motorist to swerve onto the wrong side of the road.
Driving home after a few drinks can lead to a head-on accident. Maintaining a reasonable speed and avoiding distractions that take one’s eyes off the road are also good preventative measures against collisions. A driver might be sober, but driving too fast or looking at a phone can cause them to hit a curb in the road, causing the vehicle to spin out of control and move into oncoming traffic.
- $1 MPedestrian Accident
- $845 KCommercial Truck Accident
- $275 KSlip and Fall Accident
What Causes Car Accidents to Happen?
When getting behind the wheel of a car, some drivers may not immediately think about safety and road conditions. There are a number of reasons that are beyond the control of a driver that can lead to car accidents. However, most car accidents are caused by human error. Some common car accident causes are listed below.
Hazardous Weather Conditions
Snow, ice, hail, rain, and floods can make roads undriveable. Additionally, some drivers in the winter months do not fully scrape the ice and snow off the windshields and roofs of their cars. Not only does that ice and snow create reduced visibility for that driver, the flying snow may land on another motorist’s car and cause that driver to have severe visibility problems.
Faulty Signals or Lights
Particularly after a storm, traffic signals and lights can fail. This leaves the right-of-way up to interpretation, making car accidents more likely to happen. If a motorist encounters a faulty traffic light, it is important to stop and treat it as a red light. The motorist should then follow the right-of-way laws.
Potholes can be more than a nuisance, they can lead to a popped tire which can turn into an accident quickly if the driver cannot pull safely over to the side of the road. Hitting a pothole might can also cause the motorist to lose control of their vehicle and hit another car. Additionally, motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to potholes because the size of the bike and the fact that they have little protection.
Distracted driving accidents are widespread throughout New Jersey and the United States. Some common distractions include:
- Objects in the Vehicle
- Noisy Passengers
- Navigation Systems
- Food and Drinks
- Roadside Distractions
All motorists should have their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road. The cellphone is the biggest temptation for a driver.
Driving Under the Influence
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 29 people are killed each day in impaired driving accidents. Intoxicating substances can include alcohol, prescription pain medications, and illegal and legal drugs, including marijuana. If one suspects that a substance will impair their driving abilities, they should avoid getting into the car completely. It is better to arrange for a rideshare service.
It is remarkably common to see drivers speeding. Many motorists rush to get to their destination as fast as they can. The problem with speeding is it does not account for other drivers who may need to stop suddenly. Pedestrians or animals may cross a road, and a speeding driver may not have enough time to safely stop.
Speeding is often listed as a form of aggressive driving. When a driver decides to speed, they do not take other motorists’ safety into consideration. All motorists should follow the posted speed limit and adjust to driving conditions, such as inclement weather.
Running Red Lights and Stop Signs
A motorist may run a red light or stop sign because they are distracted, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or they are speeding. The driver may see the light change, but they may not be able to react in time, which could result in a collision. It is important to always focus on driving while in the vehicle.
The effects of drowsy driving are similar to side effects of impaired driving. Overtired drivers may microsleep, which means drift off for a few seconds while sitting behind the wheel. Microsleep may be quick, but if one is driving at 60 miles per hour, their car could travel the length of an entire football field in that amount of time. This is a frequently cited cause for truck accidents as well. Truck drivers often operate under tight deadlines and work long hours.
How can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
New Jersey car accident laws are complex, and the no-fault insurance policy limits may not cover the injuries and damage that resulted from the crash. An experienced lawyer knows relevant laws and can help their client with their case. A lawyer can fight on behalf of an injured victim, and they can help them prove that the other driver caused the collision.
Car Accident Areas Served
Somerset Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Victims After Collisions
A car accident can cause significant property damage and injuries. If you need help after a collision, it can be beneficial to seek legal counsel. Our Somerset car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr have helped numerous personal injury plaintiffs, and we can help you with your case. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark. Call us at 732-537-8570 or complete our online form for a free consultation.