Could COVID-19 Affect Whether Or Not I Can Sue After A Car Accident?

Litigation over the next few months will inevitably look a little different than it has over the last few years. That’s because people will want to find a way to assert that coronavirus somehow affected their wellbeing, and it was really someone else’s fault. While some of these cases will have merit, most will not. Many have emailed our firm asking whether or not a car accident lawsuit might be reassessed with COVID-19 in mind.

What does that mean exactly?

Government authorities have urged residents for months to stay indoors whenever possible, and only to venture outside when absolutely necessary for things like groceries and exercise. But plenty of people have ignored mandated restrictions and “strong suggestions” alike. Many people, for example, continue to refuse a mask because they’re convinced coronavirus is a leftist conspiracy theory. Facts don’t matter to those people, so making the argument for truth can be difficult.

So what if you were in a car accident with a person who was not legally allowed to be driving at the time of the accident? 

Situations like these are rare, because very few state and local authorities have imposed restrictions stringent enough to keep people off the road. But if you happen to live somewhere where certain groups of people have been legally mandated to stay inside, you might be entitled to additional compensation when they don’t. Broken laws and criminal acts make civil litigation much simpler in the eyes of the law — and in our eyes too.

For now, we ask you to please abide by the rules. Go above and beyond them if you can. Coronavirus is no joke, and will likely become more serious in the coming months. If you have questions about a recent accident or coronavirus-related legal concerns, please contact us as soon as possible. If you are uncomfortable coming into the office, we will contact you over the phone or through video conference!

Are Car Accidents On The Decline? Safer Vehicles Reducing Fatalities!

Car accidents are still a leading cause of death in the United States (although they’re still not really comparable to heart disease and cancer, which rank numbers one and two). Vehicle-related fatalities run in the tens of thousands per year, but there’s good news: The number of fatalities is on the decline two years running. Around 36,500 people were killed in 2018, but that represented an important 2.4 percent reduction in the number of average annual deaths.

Statistics for car accident fatalities can be difficult to look at, because they often hit peaks and troughs. In 1970, for example, the number of deaths hit a peak of 52,627 in the United States. They then declined until 1975, getting down to 44,525 before beginning to climb once again. They’ve been going up and down ever since, but the overall trend for the past decade is down, down, down.

A big dip occurred between 2007 and 2008, from 41,259 to 37,423 dead.

Why are car accident fatalities going down so much? A lot of reasons, but there are two big ones. First, it’s important to know that pedestrian deaths are included in yearly car accident fatality statistics. That means anyone hit by a car when out for a walk becomes a number on a graph. Sadly, pedestrian deaths have actually been trending up. This is in part because more people have been exercising alongside roads over the past decade.

There’s hope that this number will decline as more people begin to use the dedicated foot traffic pathways or bike paths that are being built at increasing rates. The number will also likely diminish as onboard artificial intelligence software begins to use driverless technology to stop whenever a pedestrian gets in the way. This technology is expected to be implemented at a much higher rate over the next few years. 

That same technology will likely reduce the number of car accidents in general even further. Automated software has been implemented slowly over the past decade: features like automated parking, rearview camera, and automated braking are included in almost every new model of vehicle sold. As more people transition to newer models, we can expect the number of car accident fatalities and pedestrian deaths to go way, way down.

Although it seems nearly impossible, we might be approaching the day when the number almost disappears completely. That’s because full automation is probably coming within at least another decade. If politicians decide to enforce laws banning other vehicles from city roads, for example, then we can expect the number of people killed in car accidents to flatline.

Car Accidents In Review: Last Week

37,000 Americans die in car accidents every year, many of which involve distracted driving behaviors like texting, talking on the phone, or listening to music. Many of the dead include children aged 16 to 20. These are last week’s car accidents in review!

56-year-old actress Helen Hunt was riding in the back seat when she was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, California. The SUV flipped when the vehicle was struck. She was temporarily hospitalized, but released only a few hours later with minor injuries.

A gravel truck driver in Howard County, Maryland overturned his vehicle after striking another car trying to turn left onto River’s Edge Road. The driver was killed. U.S. Route 29 was temporarily closed while authorities cleaned the site of the accident.

There was a four-car accident in Osceola, Indiana earlier last week, sending two people to the hospital. One vehicle whose driver is likely at fault smashed into another car head-on, forcing it off the road and nearly pushing it into the nearby river. Chief Mike Mclain said that authorities would release more details after they investigate.

A tragic accident occurred on the Ben Shemen interchange (Highway 4) in Israel, leaving a 12-year-old girl and pregnant mother dead at the scene. When the mother was pronounced dead, medical personnel at the hospital successfully delivered the baby in serious condition. Two other passengers, an 8-year-old daughter and her father, survived the accident with minor injuries.

Car accidents like these occur every second of every day — and yet many of us continue to fail to take seriously the consequences of those accidents. Don’t forget that there are many options available to you after a car accident that was not your fault. You deserve compensation for injuries and trauma sustained.

Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, which means they don’t get paid unless you do. That means there’s no reason to try to file a lawsuit on your own. 

If you were in a car accident, try to document the events that led up to the accident as best you can. Photograph your vehicle. Photograph your injuries. Keep a journal of your daily thoughts and feelings after the accident. Make sure your bills are all forwarded to the attorney of your choice.

Not sure which personal injury or car accident lawyer is for you? Most reputable lawyers will provide you with a free consult. There’s no reason not to ask around!

Whistleblowing Lawyer Takes On The Auto Industry To Make Your Trip Safer

You might have heard about one of the biggest recalls in the history of the auto industry: 30 million General Motors cars were taken off the roads when Lance Cooper, a 56-year-old attorney, found out about faulty ignition switches in their vehicles. Before those vehicles were removed from the streets, at least 124 people died because of the defect. 

What you might find most disconcerting about the news, however, is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t know anything about it. 

Cooper discussed the problem with the Free Press: “Frankly, I’m skeptical of government bureaucracies.”

And who can blame him? The government might do the best it can, but people are still dying because the “best it can” isn’t good enough. 29 million vehicles were recalled in 2018 by order of the NHTSA, but Cooper fears there might be many more cars out there with similarly faulty mechanisms to the GM fiasco. 

“The best way to hold automakers accountable is through the civil justice system,” Cooper said, propping up the legal work his firm does to protect consumers. He might be onto something. In the 1970s, exploding gas tanks killed up to 180 people by some estimates. Lawyers were the ones to hold Ford accountable for the deaths. And barely fifteen years ago, a Firestone tire defect killed hundreds. 

One of those killed by the exploding tires was a 14-year-old girl, whose parents filed a lawsuit using the services of a lawyer named Randy Roberts. Once again, lawyers got to the bottom of it. The vehicle the girl’s parents had been driving lost the tread of its left-rear tire, which resulted in the vehicle flipping and rolling. Roberts subpoenaed Firestone and won the documents he needed to prove wrongdoing. 

While Roberts was on the Firestone case, so were others. Roberts found them, collaborated with them, and it was that collaboration that led to the massive Firestone recall — also by order of the NHTSA

Cooper said, “Toyota’s unintended acceleration, it wasn’t NHTSA that uncovered that — it was trial lawyers who used the civil justice system to uncover corporate malfeasance.”

And it’s through such service that Cooper wants to reduce the stigma against lawyers, who people sometimes see as greedy parasites who are out for themselves and no one else. It’s not always true. Some lawyers simply want to defend those who don’t know the law well enough to defend themselves, or those who can’t afford to take the chance.

Artificial Intelligence Making A Number Of Industries Safer, Not Just Vehicles

Most of us know exactly how scary a car accident can be. This is especially true when someone is injured in the collision. Arriving authorities, paramedics included, must often administer immediate treatments after making a diagnosis — and rarely is there any time at all to hesitate. Because there is so little time when lives are in the balance, misdiagnosis of injuries after a car accident is a common form of medical malpractice.

We know the story here at home, but how about abroad? It turns out the statistics are very familiar: The European Commission of Mobility and Transport acknowledged that about 44 percent of car accident-related fatalities might not have occurred had reliable and accurate information been recorded directly after the accident.

Believe it or not, most fatalities that result from car accidents don’t actually occur at the scene of the accident — they occur either in transport to the hospital, at the hospital, or even at home. The ECMT said about 32 percent of recorded car accident fatalities occurred when victims were transported to the wrong hospital for their injuries, while 12 percent died because no information was available at all.

That’s where artificial intelligence comes into play.

Machine learning has grown exponentially over the last few years, and is expected to grow at the same or greater rate for decades longer. 

A company called MDGo founded by Dr. Itay Bengad, Eli Zerah, and Gilad Avrashi last year is combining artificial intelligence and machine learning technology with healthcare, especially in the niche of car accidents. MDGo is using a predictive technology using sensors that already exist on new vehicles.

These sensors would automatically provide doctors and surgeons with real-time information on the nature of the car accident and the likely injuries sustained by passengers at the time of the crash. The report includes damage to the vehicle — but more importantly it will provide specific information about the injuries sustained, such as type of injury and severity. 

The information will also help first responders and coordinators make better decisions about where to send patients for the most accurate treatment possible. In the future, it is likely the MDGo tech will be combined with driverless vehicles to provide even more information about the circumstances related to the car accident.

The AI is expected to reduce car accident-related fatalities both short- and long-term, while also slashing healthcare expenses for those who need post-accident care. Better yet, the system should reduce the number of lawsuits that result from these accidents.

Who Will Be Held Liable For Car Accidents Involving Driverless Vehicles?

It’s a question you’ll hear asked often enough in the coming years as more and more car manufacturers begin to add automated cars to their yearly lineup: who is liable for an accident involving a driverless vehicle? Many car manufacturers are adding features similar to Tesla’s autopilot already, software which is itself becoming much more advanced and allows the driver to hand over control to the onboard computer when driving on certain roads.

Apple is working on a program of its own and has about 66 driverless minivans operating in California. The Audi A8 will allow drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel already, but only at speeds at or below 37 mpg. Volvo is aiming for a 2021 rollout for self-driving technology. BMW plans to get their own driverless vehicles on the road in the same year. 

No matter where you look, it seems like the early 2020s will be the era of the autonomous vehicle, and most car manufacturers are aiming for similar target dates. These vehicles will not be fully autonomous — they won’t use fully enabled level 5 automation, in other words. Instead they’ll rely on weak level 4 or advanced level 3 automation, which basically means the driver still needs to maintain awareness of what the technology is doing in order to prevent accidents.

Unfortunately for the drivers, this will place the burden of liability squarely on their shoulders in the foreseeable future. Most “scandals” involving driverless vehicle accidents until now are the result of lazy human passengers who decided to place trust in a technology that wasn’t supposed to be trusted yet. That makes them mostly responsible for the resulting injuries and fatalities.

However at some point in the future we will reach level 5 automation and passengers in these vehicles will not be expected to pay attention to the road. When this happens the burden of liability will shift primarily from the passenger over to other parties, including manufacturers, used car dealerships, and potentially mechanics or would-be saboteurs. The only case in which the driver would still be held responsible would be if the driver had tried to reprogram or work on the vehicle in a way that rendered the onboard software defective.

Unsurprisingly, the United States Federal Government is still slow to write new laws for the new technology. The Brits have outpaced us, already preparing for the future of driverless vehicles — and quite possibly they’ll therefore have legal access to these vehicles faster than we will if politicians don’t speed things up!

What Kind Of New Technology Can Help Prevent Car Accidents?

New technology is saving lives, but you might not have heard about it. Part of the reason is because a lot of the new technologies involved aren’t as flashy as Tesla’s autopilot or the full automation that Google and Uber are beginning to employ in new vehicles. A chief research officer at the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, David Zuby, thinks that these systems might do more to prevent injuries and deaths than seatbelts or airbags ever could. Here are a few of the newest systems.

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This system is now mandatory in Canada because it helps stop out of control vehicles even in inclement weather. ESC slashes engine power and brakes individual wheels one at a time rather than all at once. The technology has resulted in a nearly 50 percent fatality rate reduction since it was implemented.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). This system can prevent the common fender bender, which we’ve probably all experienced at least once by the time we’re a few decades old. They’re the most common type of car accident, but AEB prevents nearly half of them from occurring. When it fails, it still blunts the impact enough to slash injury rate by another half.
  • Blind Spot Warning. Most newer cars will alert you when another vehicle enters your blind spot. The warning light usually flashes red on your side mirrors. Other blind spot warning systems will send a vibration through your steering wheel when a car is detected–but only if you’re trying to make a lane change. The technology cuts accidents by about 14 percent.
  • Other Warnings. Some vehicles will let you know when your car is drifting out of its lane by vibrating the steering wheel or flashing a light. Some will automatically steer you back into the right lane. Other systems will alert the driver when another car is to the side or behind them when backing out of a parking space.

While these new systems certainly help reduce the number of dangers we face on the streets, they don’t eliminate them. In fact, there is some evidence that suggests some drivers will drive more recklessly because of these new safety systems. Be wary while on the road!

Who’s Liable If An Open Car Door Is Hit?

True story: I was driving to work this morning when the truck in front of me took off the door of a car parked next to the sideway. This made me curious. Who is at fault? I can’t believe the woman opened her car door when there was clearly a huge truck heading in her direction but I also can’t believe the truck hit the door – he didn’t even attempt to slow down. He then pulled over and got out of the truck while I continued forward and went to work. But now I’m wondering how does one even put in a claim for this type of accident.

The answer is a resounding “it depends.” Most of the time it is the person opening the car door who is the one who is at fault. The person driving was following all traffic laws (maybe he was speeding but so was everyone else on the road). He could not have been aware that the person would open the door, therefore, he cannot be responsible or any damage sustained to her car door or to his car. There a ton of traffic laws that state a variation of the following: no person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so.

However, that doesn’t fully get the truck driver off the hook. As I said, he might have been speeding which might be held against him. The woman could have thought she had the safety time to open her door but because he was driving so fast she didn’t have as much time as she thought. Also, I just saw the truck hit the door if the door was opened he should have seen it and had ample time to adjust his driving, therefore, making him at fault for the accident.

I will keep wondering what happens…

Who Is Liable For An Accident Due To Brake Failure?

Being in a car accident is scary, especially when its due to brake failure. Losing control of the car and crashing into something can cause serious injury to you, passengers and other drivers. When this happens to you, it might seem like you are liable for any damages. However, that’s not the case.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) survey on motor vehicle accidents, around 2% of accidents are caused solely by issues with the vehicle itself, such as brake failure. This figure encompasses two primary categories: manufacturing defects and design defects. The former refers to an automotive defect resulting from a poor manufacturing job in the factory. Typically, this will be a more isolated incident than one stemming from a design defect. Contrarily, if there is an issue with the car’s design, all of the cars matching that model and year are likely affected.

In order for an attorney to demonstrate that the manufacturer is liable for the accident, the issue with the brakes must be proven unreasonably dangerous. Further, this defect must be shown to be a direct cause of the injury. Often, such defects result in rear-end collisions with another vehicle. One important factor in determining liability in such accidents is driver negligence. Were the brakes really defective, or was the driver distracted and not paying attention to the road? Was the driver aware of their vehicle’s poor condition, or was it a surprise failure?

If the brakes can be shown to be faulty by an impartial mechanic shortly after the accident, an attorney can likely help you sue the vehicle’s manufacturer. In some cases, the car dealership or a mechanic can be liable as well. However, if the driver is proven to have been distracted, these claims are no longer viable and they must assume liability. Similarly, if the driver was aware of the poor condition of their vehicle before taking it on the road, they will be liable a result of negligence.

Often, in collisions due to brake failure, the liability is split between both parties. It is common for both drivers to have been acting recklessly and even illegally before the accident occurred. For example, one driver may have been going over the speed limit when crossing an intersection, failing to hit the brakes in time and hitting another car who was running a red light. Both drivers were acting unsafely, and thus would both share the liability for this accident.

In any regard, accidents involving or claiming to involve vehicle defects are complex situations centered around product liability law. To best protect yourself, contact an experienced auto accidents attorney to assist with your case.

Will I be Held Liable if my Car was Stolen and in an Accident?

Unfortunately, car accidents happen every day. They can be a tragic event involving fatalities or as small as a tiny dent on a bumper. Regardless, all car accidents should be reported to the police and the respective drivers’ insurance companies.

The only thing worse than being in a car accident yourself, is if your car is stolen and involved in an accident. Not only do you have to deal with the stress that comes along with a stolen vehicle, but you have to deal with the stress of your car being in an accident.

What Are Your Responsible For?

Well, first off, when you discover that your car was stolen, you should:

Call the Police: Tell the police all about your car. Let them know that it has been stolen, the make, model, color, license plate, and any other important information.

Call your insurance company: After you call the police, the next step is to call your insurance company. In case anything happens with the vehicle, you should document that the vehicle was stolen.

Are You Liable?

If your car has been stolen and has been involved in an accident, you will not be held liable. The reasoning behind this ruling is that you did not willfully lend your car out to someone.

Tips to Prevent Vehicle Theft

The first step to avoiding a situation like this is to take steps to ensure the security of your vehicle. Some tips to prevent auto theft are:

  • Have a security system installed
  • Try not to park in high crime areas
  • Avoid dark, shady areas
  • Purchase auto theft insurance

Contact a Car Accident Attorney

If you, or your vehicle, has been in a car accident, the next best step after alerting the authorities is to contact an experienced car accident attorney. A car accident attorney will investigate your case and decide whether or not you will be held liable. In the case that you are injured in the said crash, a car accident attorney will file a lawsuit.