Over the past few decades, cars have become a necessity instead of a luxury. Their utility is part of why there are now 284 million cars on the streets of America. Surveys project that in 2023, there will be over 243 million licensed drivers on the roads. These are some incredible statistics. However, one statistic about US roads is quite scary; Every year, there are an average of six million car accidents on US roads. In Chicago, the number of car accidents is on the rise.
Car accidents can happen for multiple reasons, but the leading cause of accidents worldwide is driver error. These occupy an incredible 94 percent. The remaining 6 percent are unrelated to driver error. When you are involved in a car crash, identifying the main cause or the ‘fault’ is key to getting compensation. Knowing what causes these accidents and when you may be at fault is important.
Driver error as a cause of car accidents happens in several ways. Here are the most common causes of driver error in car accidents:
Distracted driving could refer to anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. That could be a billboard or ad on the street, talking to someone in the car, or the most common one, texting or calling in the car. Of all these, texting and calling while driving is the leading cause of crashes.
Just reading a short text while driving takes your eyes off the road for a full five seconds. That is enough time for anyone to be involved in a collision or to cause one. According to an article by the Chicago Tribune, 25 percent of crashes in 2017 happened when drivers used their cell phones.
The NHTSA compiled a survey on car crashes, and they found that 40 percent of the time, in fatal car crashes, alcohol was a major factor. Alcohol and many other drugs will often affect the mind of the driver. It means their reaction time is much slower, which is dangerous in an environment where quick reaction time is key to safety.
A driver who is fatigued is in many ways similar to one who is driving under the influence. Fatigue slows reaction time, like alcohol, exposing the driver to more danger. A fatigued driver is more likely to miss a red light and cause a traffic crash than a normal driver.
Another common cause of accidents in Chicago is careless driving. This usually involves speeding, poor decisions when overtaking, and impatience. According to the CDC, one in three crashes results from speeding. High speeds make it difficult to correct wrong decisions, such as risky passes or tailgating. Moreover, the risk more than doubles in poor visibility or weather conditions.
One of the leading causes of accidents unrelated to driver error is the weather. Some conditions, like snow or rain, can make the road slippery, predisposing drivers to crashes. Wind speed, fog, and water levels can also lead to car accidents.
Poorly maintained roads can also lead to car crashes because they can cause a tire to pop or damage the vehicle. Sometimes, a road can make it difficult to brake, leading to an accident.
Sometimes, everything could be just right, and even your skills could be top-notch, but the car refuses to respond. Cars comprise multiple moving parts, all meant to work perfectly with each other. So, when an issue arises in the car’s mechanicals, it impacts the vehicle’s safety. Vehicle malfunctions are also a common cause of car accidents.
The ‘fault’ simply means the individual or circumstance that led to the accident. If you are at fault in a car accident, you were negligent while driving. In insurance claims and car accident lawsuits, the at-fault driver is held responsible for the damage and the accident’s impact.
In an accident case, the at-fault driver’s insurance must pay for the damages if they have liability coverage. The damages may include:
In some cases, a court may rule on comparative negligence. This can happen in a situation where the blame is shared. The state rules damage compensation in such situations according to each driver’s fault level.
If you are in a car accident in Chicago, having a witness to the accident or video evidence makes determining fault easier. However, if there are no witnesses or video evidence, it is up to the drivers, police, and insurance companies to determine fault.
Some drivers may admit fault at the accident scene, especially if they were in the wrong. In such a situation, they will have to shoulder the financial responsibility for the accident. However, most times, drivers accuse each other without yielding. Because this is more common, lawyers recommend taking pictures immediately after the accident.
After an accident in Chicago, you usually have an officer at the scene quickly, especially on the South Side. The police officer may belong to the Chicago police department or the Illinois state police. They will gather detailed information about the accident, including the impact location on the cars and statements from the drivers.
They will also take down details such as whether the driver was under the influence or driving and texting at the point of the accident. They may also indicate obvious injuries or if someone was killed in the accident. The insurance companies will go through the report once it is filed.
Michael J. Brennan is an Illinois personal injury lawyer in Chicago. You do not have to face your financial or legal issues alone if you or a loved one were involved in a preventable accident.
Michael is prepared to fight for your rights, a fair financial recovery, and justice for your injuries and losses. Call (708) 460-9300 or visit us for a consultation.