There are a wide variety of causes of car accidents. Some of the most common include:
The most common cause of car accidents is driver error. Common errors include failure to yield the right of way, following too closely, driving at excessive speeds, unsafe passing, and disregard of traffic control devices.
When the drivers attention becomes diverted from the road, the chances of an accident increase. Distractions may occur from outside of the car, such as when something at the side of the road draws a drivers attention. Distractions also occur inside cars, such as where the driver attempts to eat, read or put on makeup while driving, change CDs or other musical devices, use a cellular phone, or attempts to deal with an upset or unruly child.
Motorists whose ability to drive is impaired as a result of the consumption of alcohol or drugs are more likely to cause car accidents.
Sometimes, bad weather conditions will contribute to an accident by interfering with visibility, reduced traction on the road surface, or otherwise making it more difficult to drive a car. A driver should always take the effects of the weather, such as strong cross-winds, slippery roads, or even bright sunlight, into consideration when driving. Weather often creates unexpected hazards, such as black ice or flash flooding, which may not be detected by a driver until it is too late to avoid the hazard.
Road Design or Conditions
A poorly designed roadway, intersection, or means of controlling traffic can at times cause or contribute to an accident. Poorly placed and poorly designed road signs or barriers can cause unnecessary injury when vehicles collide with them. In some instances, such defects may result in liability by the governmental agency responsible for the design and maintenance of the roadway, although governmental immunity may apply. In addition to the above, roadway conditions may also be affected by the presence of objects or debris.
At times an accident will result from a defect with a drivers vehicle, such as a tire blowout, brake failure, and sometimes by a design or manufacturing defect. A common example is a design defect which makes an SUV more susceptible to rolling over or a gas tank more likely to ignite in a collision.
Hit-and-Run Accidents: Where the driver who causes an accident fails to stop at the accident scene, it may be difficult for the victim of the accident to later identify the at-fault driver so as to bring a lawsuit.
Car-Pedestrian Accidents:- Where a motor vehicle collides with a pedestrian, the pedestrian will often suffer catastrophic injury. Unfortunately, pedestrians often have difficulty making claims against drivers, as the accidents are frequently attributed to the conduct of the pedestrian.
Car-Motorcycle Accidents:- Motorcycle drivers are susceptible to serious injury, even in collisions which would be relatively minor had they occurred between cars.
Car-Bicycle Accidents:- Bicyclists are vulnerable to serious injury when hit by cars, and are also susceptible to having drivers open car doors in front of them - a hazard which can cause them to be catapulted over the car door in a collision. Drivers often report that they did not see the bicyclist until after the collision, or that they misjudged the bicyclist's speed. Some bicyclists engage in very hazardous actions, such as ignoring traffic signals or riding on the wrong side of the road, making an accident much more likely. The most severe and lasting injuries to bicyclists tend to be head injuries, so helmet use is encouraged.
In fact, the Massachusetts Legislature has recently enacted new legislation to make the roads safer for Bay State bicyclists. A copy of the law may be found at: http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw08/sl080525.htm
Bus and Semi Truck / Tractor-Trailer Accidents: Given the size and mass of these types of vehicles, accidents involving busses or trucks can be quite serious. And with busses in particular, issues arise given the fact that passengers are often unrestrained and in the context of loading and unloading passengers. Drivers of some trucks and tractor-trailers are often subject to state and federal regulation, including managing how many hours a day they can drive, how much sleep they need, and the condition and maintenance of their trucks.
Government Involvement: Whether the government is directly involved in your injuries, e.g. an automobile accident with an MBTA bus or police officer, or indirectly, e.g. defective conditions on a roadway, government involvement poses a whole range of peculiar complexities. Two immediate concerns are the scope of governmental immunity, and notice requirements. Call Town & Country Legal Associates now for more information.
Insurance Coverage Problems
Uninsured Driver - Where the at-fault driver is uninsured, it can be difficult for a person who is injured in a car accident to obtain a suitable recovery. In Massachusetts, drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage through their own automobile insurance policies so that they have a source of recovery in the event that the other driver fails to carry insurance or cannot be identified.
Underinsured Driver - Similar to the uninsured driver, some drivers carry inadequate insurance coverage, often at the minimum level required by state law.
Insurance Company Bad Faith - When people make claims with their insurance companies, they sometimes run into difficulty with the insurance company's refusal to negotiate the claim fairly. In Massachusetts, and other no fault states where drivers insure for their own accident-related medical care, it can involve the improper denial of coverage or reimbursement by the insurance company.
Statute of Limitations
Anybody who is considering bringing a legal claim as a result of a car accident should note that their ability to pursue their claim will be limited by the statute of limitations of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. In Massachusetts, that period is three years.
Other Massachusetts-Specific Information
Massachusetts Statutes of Limitations
1. Personal Injury: 3 years from date of injury.
2. Wrongful Death: 3 Years from date of death.
3. Product Liability: 3 years from date of injury.
4. Medical Malpractice: 3 years from date of malpractice.
5. Motor Vehicle Hit and Run Actions: 3 years from date of action but not later than 3 years after occurrence of accident.
Massachusetts State Seat Belt Laws: Secondary. A seatbelt is required for passengers older than 12 years in all seats.
Massachusetts State Helmet Laws: In Massachusetts, all individuals riding or operating a motorcycle must wear a helmet at all times.
Massachusetts Dog Bite Laws: In Massachusetts, a dog owner may be liable for damages caused by his/her dog when the dog bites or injures a person, but only if the injured person was not trespassing at the time of the bite or injury. Additionally a dog owner is probably not liable for injuries sustained by a person if that person provoked the dog, causing the dog to attack.
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