Negligence causes most car accidents; thus, most are avoidable. However, between people who do not consider the safety of others and those accidents that people cannot avoid, the people of New Orleans are bound to get into accidents even if they constantly look for danger. Sometimes that danger sneaks up on you before you know it. Sideswipes, rear-end crashes, and even T-bones and head-on wrecks are often difficult to avoid because you do not see the other car coming at you until it is too late. You might see the other vehicle coming at you in other circumstances, but you have nowhere to go because of other vehicles or stationary objects.
Driving Under the Influence
If the police stop a driver, they can ask the driver to take tests to determine whether the driver is driving under the influence. If the driver’s blood-alcohol level is 0.08 or higher, the police can arrest the driver for driving under the influence. Additionally, if the driver is under the influence of drugs, including those listed in Schedules I, II, III, IV, or V, the police will consider that as driving under the influence.
Since driving under the influence is a criminal act, the state might prosecute the defendant. However, if you want to recover damages for injuries you suffered in a drunk driving accident, you would need to sue the driver’s insurance company and/or the driver in civil court.
Driving While Distracted
When a driver is not directing their full attention to the road, they could cause an accident.
Driving while distracted could mean several things, including:
- Talking on the phone, even hands-free.
- Even using a wireless device is illegal.
- Checking the kids in the rearview mirror.
- Having a conversation with someone in the vehicle.
- Eating and drinking.
- Putting makeup on.
- Fiddling with the radio, climate control, or other controls in the vehicle.
- Rubbernecking at an accident scene or other outside distraction.
Driving While Fatigued or Tired in New Orleans
Many people combine fatigue and tiredness, but they are two very different things. If you are tired, a nap will reinvigorate you. If you are fatigued, you still cannot recover after a good night’s sleep. Driving while fatigued is dangerous because you could fall asleep at the wheel at any time. You might even wake up in the morning and jump in your vehicle to commute to work and fall asleep.
Some drivers are at a higher risk of being fatigued, including truck drivers, those on prescription medications, and shift workers, especially those on a “swing” shift their shift switches every few days or once a week. Swing shift workers never have enough time to acclimate to the new wake/sleep times.
Tailgating/Following Too Closely
When a driver follows another too closely, the risk of crashing is significantly higher. The rear driver does not have enough time to react should the front driver stop quickly to avoid someone pulling in front of them or debris in the road. If the front driver is driving erratically, the rear driver does not have time to take evasive action when following too closely.
The Department of Transportation puts up speed limit signs for a reason. The signs tell drivers that it is safe to drive at the posted speed during perfect conditions. That means no sun in the driver’s face, no inclement weather, and no traffic.
A speeding driver does not have time to take evasive action should something unexpected happen in front of them. It also takes longer to stop when speeding, and it is easier to lose control of the vehicle. Additionally, a speeding driver increases the chances of severe injuries because of the higher force of impact.
Reckless and/or Aggressive Driving
When people are in a hurry, upset, or emotionally disturbed, they often drive recklessly or aggressively. Driving in this manner might include excessive lane changes, tailgating, speeding, or brake checking and cutting other drivers off. Because an aggressive driver makes these moves quickly, an innocent victim may not see an accident coming.
If you can prove the at-fault driver was driving aggressively and had no care for others on the road, you might be able to recover punitive damages. The court would have to agree that the at-fault driver’s behavior was grossly negligent.
Ignoring Traffic Control Signals
To facilitate the flow of traffic and safety for all drivers on the road, the Department of Transportation installs traffic control signals in the form of lights, signs, and markings on the road. However, some drivers ignore traffic signals, causing accidents that could injure or kill someone. A driver that ignores traffic control signals could run head-on into you, T-bone you, or even sideswipe you.
Failing to Yield
Drivers must yield to pedestrians and other drivers, even if no traffic control signals exist. For example, a light or stop sign might not exist at a crosswalk, but drivers must stop for those in the crosswalk. When two lanes merge, the merging lane must yield to drivers in the other lane. Failure to do so could cause severe accidents and even death.
Ignoring Blind Spots
Checking blind spots works both ways. A driver must check their blind spots before changing lanes or making a turn. Additionally, drivers should also be aware of large trucks, especially tractor-trailer trucks. They have significant blind spots, and no matter how much a truck driver looks, they might not see you, especially if you are hanging in the truck’s blind spot.
Not being aware of your blind spots or a truck’s blind spots could cause serious accidents. Never rely solely on your mirrors or a vehicle’s blind spot notification systems. Always look in your blind spot to ensure that another vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist is not there before you turn or merge into another lane.
If someone has a medical emergency, that person could also cause an accident. For example, a person who has an unexpected heart attack could pass out while driving and ram into your vehicle. You often cannot foresee this coming unless the person is driving erratically before the crash.
If you see someone driving erratically and they do not look well, call 911 and let the police know where you are. If you believe it is safe, you can try to stop the driver before they crash and try to get help. Sometimes, a driver who is not feeling well will pull over for you. You could save that person’s life and that of others if you can stop someone before a crash. However, if you are unsure if the driver is ill or is driving aggressively because of a temper, it is better to get away from that driver. You might have to slow down behind the driver or take a turn to go out of your way to get away from the aggressive driver.
Road Conditions and Weather
Road construction and/or maintenance and inclement weather could also cause a New Orleans car wreck. The risk of crashing goes up if the driver is driving under the influence, speeding, or distracted.
Keep in mind that not only rain and snow are inclement weather. Heavy fog and even the sun shining in a driver’s face could cause an accident. Always adjust your driving when on poorly maintained roads or roads that are being worked on, or if the weather reduces your vision or makes it slippery.
Defective Vehicle and/or Parts
Vehicle defects could also cause accidents. The vehicle could have a factory defect, or a parts installer could unknowingly install a defective part. Auto technicians cannot always tell if a part is defective by looking at it. For example, electronic parts rarely look defective, so it is easy to install a bad part.
However, sometimes a vehicle defect is the fault of the driver. For example, if the driver knows their tires are worn down to the steel bands in the tread but does not change them, they are responsible for the accident the bald tires caused since they should have changed the tires long before they got that bald.
Other Vehicles in New Orleans Cause Accidents
Other vehicles could also cause accidents. For example, if a vehicle passes a truck and then merges in front of the truck but is too close, that driver could cause the truck driver to slam on their brakes, jackknife the trailer, and hit your vehicle.
In another case where a third party is at fault is when Driver 1 rear ends Driver 2, pushing Driver 2 into the back of your vehicle. In a similar situation, Driver 1 could sideswipe Driver 2, pushing Driver 2 into you, which in turn pushes you off the road or into another vehicle on a multi-lane highway.
Accident injuries range from very minor to death, depending on the circumstances of the accident, including speed, the number of vehicles involved, the size of the vehicles, and how one vehicle hits another.
Injuries might include:
- Scrapes, cuts, bruises, and bumps.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled and/or torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries. Torn muscles could require surgery to repair.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Thermal and/or chemical burns.
- Road rash (a type of thermal burn).
- Back and spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury could lead to paralysis.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Crushed bones.
- Wrongful death.
Injury victims could also sustain secondary injuries, such as infections of wounds caused by the accident or surgery to repair accident injuries. Those who have a compromised immune system, whether from another illness, such as diabetes or because of medication, such as chemotherapy, also have a higher risk of sustaining infections.
The at-fault driver can be held liable for the medical expenses and lost wages you incur because of these secondary injuries. The at-fault driver can also be liable for causing an existing illness or injury to exacerbate since your condition would not be worsened if not for the actions or inactions of the at-fault driver.
A common question for New Orleans car accident lawyers is, “How much is my case worth?” No attorney can answer that question without thoroughly reviewing your case. The compensation you deserve and could recover depends on the extent of your injuries.
Accident victims could recover two types of damages: Compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages have two categories: Economic damages and non-economic damages.
Special damages often referred to as economic damages, have a monetary value.
These can include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Future earning capacity.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expense. In some cases, the family of a loved one who died in a car accident could also recover court fees, such as probate court filing fees.
General damages, often referred to as non-economic damages, do not have a monetary value.
In most cases, only those who suffered catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one can recover non-economic damages, which can include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of companionship and/or consortium.
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including grocery shopping, house cleaning, and lawn maintenance.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Partial or whole paralysis.
- Disfigurement and/or excessive scarring.
The court only orders punitive damages if the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. The court orders punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant’s behavior instead of to make the victim whole again.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a car wreck, immediately contact a New Orleans car accident lawyer for a free case evaluation.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.