Frequent drivers encounter intersections everyday. Intersections can be dangerous since many cars are usually involved, which can lead to an accident. If you are involved in an intersection accident, your vehicle is likely to be damaged, and you might be seriously injured. We at the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney understand the confusion and pain that you are likely to encounter after an accident. Thus, we are here to advise you on the proper way to seek compensation as you get better. Get in touch with us to handle your situation.
What is an Intersection Accident?
An intersection accident is any kind of accident that occurs at an intersection. Various specific accidents are related to an intersection accident. This includes rear-end, side-impact, sideswipe, and collision with a pedestrian or a bicycle. Let us have a look at these types of intersection accidents in detail.
A rear-end collision is typically any accident that involves a vehicle crashing on the other at the back or crashing on the leading car. A typical scenario consists of a situation where two cars are moving towards the same direction, but the one at the front suddenly brakes and the one behind it crashes on it due to the sudden braking.
When it comes to an intersection, such situations occur when the vehicle in front brakes suddenly to avoid hitting someone crossing an intersection. It also occurs when the vehicle in front comes to a stop sign at an intersection and makes a sudden brake without the awareness of the driver following it. Also, the rear vehicle can be liable for the accident when it tries to accelerate faster than the leading car when leaving an intersection.
Side Impact Accident
Side impact can be explained as a situation where a vehicle crashes on the side of the other while at an intersection. This kind of accident is also defined as a T-bone accident, broadside impact, or a right-angled collision based on the perpendicular angle made by the vehicles involved in such an accident. This sort of accident is common when one of the vehicles fails to give the other person the right of way.
Side Sweep Accident
A side sweep accident involves two vehicles moving in the same direction, which meets at each other's sides. The severity of a side sweep accident depends on whether one of the drivers or both managed to control the vehicle or not. If both drivers manage to control the cars, the accident might cause minor cosmetic damage. However, if they lose control of their vehicles, it might cause severe damages and injuries.
Colliding With a Pedestrian or Bicycle
Although intersections are not a common bicycle and pedestrian routes, there is a small percentage of routes that are used for their passage. In such a place, there are possibilities of an accident that involves the incoming vehicle, pedestrians, or bicycle. In most cases, bicycle accidents involve the cyclist's loss of control while approaching an intersection due to panic. On the other hand, pedestrian accidents occur when a driver fails to stop in time when a pedestrian is crossing an intersection.
Causes of Intersection Accidents
Since intersections are the busiest of all places on a highway, there are lots of factors that can lead to accidents in such locations. Here is a detailed view of the common causes of intersection accidents.
Following too Closely
Driving too close to a vehicle can lead to an accident. Drivers of the rear vehicle are completely obstructed from what is going on at the front. This makes them unable to make any traffic decisions such as sudden stoppage in case of a stop sign or when a pedestrian suddenly steps into the road. Therefore, in case the driver at the front makes any sudden braking, the vehicle that is following from behind will end up crashing on it.
Ideally, drivers are expected to follow the three-second rule while following another vehicle. This means that they should keep three seconds with the car at the front to have enough time to react to any sudden changes with the movement. The timeline should be doubled or tripled in heavy traffic, on rainy days, snow, fog, or during the night.
Failing to Yield to the Right of Way
Failing to yield is a typical cause of an accident that results from negligence. Traffic rules provide the right of way to specific vehicles that should access the road first. This means that one car has to wait at the intersection and allow the other to pass by.
An accident occurs when there is a red light or yellow on the traffic lights, which prompts a vehicle to make a left turn while there is oncoming traffic. It also occurs when a driver enters a highway from a private driveway and fails to yield to the right of way to a pedestrian walking on the crosswalk.
Failure to Obey Traffic Signals
There are specific traffic signals with different meanings on an intersection. Drivers are expected to follow the signs promptly to avoid any accident or hitting onto a pedestrian. In that case, failing to obey any of the signals due to impatience or negligence can cause an accident with other vehicles that have the right of way. Such an accident might lead to additional charges on the defendant.
Changing Lanes Erratically
As drivers are approaching an intersection, they have the chance to make three decisions. These include driving straight ahead, proceeding to the right or the left. In either of the choices at hand, it requires the driver to be on a specific lane, especially on a multi-lane highway.
However, if the driver is not keen enough, one might find him or herself on the wrong lane while approaching the intersection. This might prompt the driver to make a sudden change of the lane without enough room to make such a decision. As a result, this will lead to an accident with the vehicles on the target lane.
Changing the Speed Suddenly and Erratically
Once you are in an intersection, you are naturally required to decelerate. Also, if you are expected to leave an intersection, you should be careful with how you speed off from your position. However, some drivers are not cautious enough to make these considerations and usually end up making erratic speeds or changing their speed abruptly.
Such behaviors usually end up with a collision with the other vehicle and can lead to severe vehicle damage or injuries, especially if the other car was speeding.
Driving too Fast
Once again, if you are approaching an intersection, you are required to slow your vehicle. However, if you are on speed, it is hard to make a sudden stop once the traffic lights signal vehicles to stop. In such a situation, it is almost a guarantee that you will cause a rear-end collision with the leading vehicle.
Making an Improper Turn
As you approach an intersection, you have the decision to turn right or left, depending on the nature of the intersection. Therefore, if you make a wrong decision or turn wrongly, there are high chances of causing an accident due to your choice. Some of the wrong choices that people make while turning include:
Failing to warn the rear vehicle with proper signaling
Misjudging other cars on the other directions and rushing to make a turn
Making a u-turn while you are not required to do so
Failing to take note of the pedestrians expected to cross through the intersection
Distracted driving usually results from intoxication. This includes intoxication from drugs or alcohol, which is common with most drivers. Drugs and alcohol often impair the judgment of a driver, and one cannot manage to make the right decision, just like a reasonable person would do. Therefore, there are possibilities of causing an accident, leading to severe injuries and damages. In the worst-case scenario, a distracted driver would possibly cause a head-on collision with the vehicle in the opposite direction, due to the failure of recognizing a stop sign.
The state has the responsibility of keeping track of traffic at the intersection. This is to ensure that no drivers make the wrong decisions, and the traffic lights indicate the right signals. However, if there is inadequate surveillance, there are possibilities of causing an accident due to poor signaling.
When a vehicle is making a turn near a building, there is an obstructed view due to the structure on the left. Therefore, the driver will end up making a turn without determining whether the way is clear, which ends up in a collision with the other vehicle.
The turning driver might make a right turn, but due to obstruction, the oncoming vehicle speeds up and crashes out of nowhere.
Types of Injuries Sustained in an Intersection Accident
Evidently, there are injuries sustained in an accident. However, there are different types of injuries sustained in an accident. This variation depends on the kind of accident that occurs. Here is a detailed overview of the common types of injuries sustained in an intersection accident.
Whiplash is a common name given to injuries sustained in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They occur when the body makes a sudden move faster than regular movements. As a result, there is trauma on the soft tissues and muscles without breaking the bone. Whiplash can be painful and can take time to heal, as well.
If a vehicle happens to catch fire after an accident, the occupants might end up suffering from burn injuries. Such injuries can either be minor or fatal. Serious burns require skin grafting and can cause severe scarring.
Head injuries range from minor ones to severe ones. The most severe injury that one can sustain is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). If it is not handled correctly, it might cause lasting problems for the victims, such as sleeping difficulties and severe headaches. It can be challenging to treat a brain injury since it takes quite a time to determine whether there are any injuries unless there is a detailed assessment made on the victim.
Scrapes and Cuts
Scrapes and cuts represent one of the minor injuries that one can sustain in a car accident. These are cuts that come from an impact with a projectile in the vehicle. Scrapes and cuts can be painful or can cause infections if left untreated.
There are high chances of breaking a limb or part of the limb during a car accident. Such situations are common since these parts are entirely exposed to the point of impact during an accident. Such situations can be harrowing and take time to heal as well.
There are also possibilities of suffering internal bleeding once you are involved in an accident. Such situations are dangerous and pose a significant danger to the well-being of the victim. Therefore, the victim should seek immediate medical attention once he or she survives an accident since the situation might appear as a minor injury at first.
Similar to broken bones, one can also suffer from a herniated disc. This involves rupturing or shifting or rupturing one or more vertebrae after a collision. Such injuries are quite painful and can lead to additional complications.
Although knee injuries might be classified as limb injuries, it can be classified differently based on the possibilities of such kinds of injuries. These kinds of injuries are common since the knees are the first to strike the dashboard once an accident occurs. As a result, one might need surgery to rebuild the knee by using crutches or braces to correct the damages. Knee injuries are usually frustrating since they might end up causing walking difficulty in the future.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
All car accidents are not physical. A victim might also suffer from mental or emotional injuries after an accident. The most common type of mental or emotional trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such situations can worsen up to the point of causing a lot of deterioration on the victim.
Liability in an Intersection Accident
The essence of proving liability in a car accident is to determine who will be held responsible for the injuries and damages sustained in the accident. There are a couple of issues that need to be considered when determining who is liable for an intersection accident. Ideally, an accident occurs due to negligent actions from one of the drivers. This makes it clear in deciding who's responsible for the accident. Here are a couple of methods that one can use to prove liability in an intersection accident.
Use of Witness Statement
Once an accident has happened, surviving victims and the police are allowed to take statements from the witnesses. Witnesses statement involves video footage taken at the scene of the accident, pictures, and word of mouth. Therefore, your attorney should access such statements, analyze them, and use them to determine who's responsible for the accident.
Use of Police Report
It is not usual for the police to arrive at the scene of the accident. However, when they do, they have to make a report about the accident if it involves any injuries. In case the police fail to appear at the scene, the parties involved are expected to report to the police station and record a statement with them.
The police report is one of the essential pieces that you can present to the court to prove that the other party involved in the accident is liable for your injuries. Please note, you have the right to access the report and fix any errors such as factual errors, incorrect insurance information, and vehicle information.
Use of the Vehicle Damages
The kind of damages that your vehicle incurs are pretty clear in determining who's responsible for the accident. For instance, if your car was involved in a broadside accident, yours would probably have been damaged on the side while the defendant’s vehicle would have the damage at the front. Therefore, it is recommended that you get pictures of your vehicle and names of the witnesses in case the location of the damage comes into question during your court case.
Use of Traffic Surveillance Camera Footage
Nowadays, it is easier to access camera footage based on the level of technology that has been achieved and the level of surveillance that every city expects to achieve. This makes it easy to access camera footage and use it to prove that another party was liable for the accident.
Analyzing the Type of Accident at Hand
As stated earlier, there are different types of intersection accidents. It is easier to determine who's liable for an accident if the accident is analyzed. For instance, the driver who failed to give right of way is responsible for an accident in a broadside collision. However, it requires the attorney or investigator to know the positioning of the vehicles at an intersection to determine who's liable for the accident.
Distracted Driving Liability
In a DUI related accident, the intoxicated driver is usually held responsible for the accident. In such a case, you should be sure that the driver was driving under the influence to prove his or her liability. This can be achieved through the chemical test results. If they are positive, then the respective driver becomes liable for the accident.
California Comparative Negligence Rule in a Car Accident Case
If you share liability in causing a car accident in California, a different consideration is made when it comes to claiming responsibility. Under the California pure comparative negligence rule, you can recover compensation from the at-fault party, even if you play a part in the fault. However, the kind of compensation that you get is reduced according to the percentage of your fault. The comparative negligence rule is decided by both the judge and the car insurance claim adjuster.
Types of Recoverable Damages in an Intersection Accident
There are chances of getting a couple of expenses after a car accident. You need to be compensated for the losses that you incur, depending on the cause of the respective accident. The kind of compensation that you get is referred to as damages in the legal field.
There are two types of damages in the legal field. These include compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are divided into two, which include economic and non-economic damages.
These are the sort of damages that an attorney can place a financial value on. This means that they are easy to consider and calculate. They include:
Past and future medical expenses
Court associated expenses
Car repair expenses
These are the types of damages that a victim or the attorney cannot put a financial value on. There is no defined procedure to determine the value of your economic damages. However, you expect a law firm to have their process in deciding how much you should claim for the sustained injuries. These damages include:
Physical impairment and scarring
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium
The injury itself
These are damages awarded to the victim if the injuries sustained resulted from egregious and reckless conduct of the defendant. Punitive damages are quite rare and are only awarded to punish the wrongdoer for the gross negligent action. One of the potential situations that might lead to the award of punitive damages is drunk driving.
Find an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Victims of car accidents require compensation. Such expectations cannot be reached unless one succeeds in filing a lawsuit and wins it as well. That’s why one should hire a professional injury attorney to help out in the whole process of seeking compensation. We at Orange County Personal Injury Attorney have the experience and reputation of offering credible legal services. If you are in Orange County, contact us at 714-876-1959 and let us handle your case.