Category: Car Accidents

Can You Still Use a Car Seat After an Accident?

Can You Still Use a Car Seat After an Accident?

Several sources recommend that you replace a car seat after an accident. The NHTSA recommends replacing a car seat after a moderate or severe accident.

However, a car seat might not need to be replaced after a minor car crash. The NHTSA defines a minor car crash as:

  • You could drive the vehicle away from the accident scene
  • The vehicle door closest to the car seat was not damaged in the collision
  • There is no visible damage to the car seat
  • None of the vehicle occupants sustained crash injuries
  • The airbags did not inflate during the collision

If any of the above factors apply, you need to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and consider replacing the car seat. Whenever in doubt, it may be best to replace the car seat. Your child’s safety could be at risk if you use a car seat involved in a car accident. 

The Insurance Company Should Pay for a New Car Seat

If you were involved in a car accident that damaged your car seat, the insurance company should replace the car seat as part of your property damage claim. Don’t allow the insurance adjuster to convince you to replace the car seat. 

You should obtain evidence of the cost of a new car seat that is the same or similar model to your previous seat. You deserve to be reimbursed for the cost of a new car seat if another driver caused the car crash.

Car Seats Decrease the Risk of Death or Injury in a Car Accident

According to the Centers for Disease Control, using a car seat reduces the risk of injury for children by 71 to 82 percent compared to seat belt use alone. Using booster seats reduces the risk of serious injury by 45 percent for children between the ages of four to eight years. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides detailed information about car seats online. Families can use the guidelines to choose a safety seat or booster seat that meets their child’s needs. Parents should also read the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure their child’s height or weight does not exceed the maximum limits for the car seat.

Generally, the AAP recommends using rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing safety seat, the parents can transition the child into a forward-facing safety seat. 

The child should use the forward-facing car seat until they outgrow it. Once they outgrow a car seat, the parent can use a booster seat with belt-positioning functions until the child is tall enough for a seat belt.

Parents should check their car seats for recalls and register the car seat to receive recall notices. Each state has laws regarding child passenger restraints. Most state laws follow the AAP and NHTSA guidelines for car seats, but it is up to parents to know the laws in their state.

What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured in a Car Accident?

Children injured in car crashes can sustain traumatic injuries. Even minor injuries could have long-lasting developmental, emotional, physical, and cognitive impairments.

After a crash, you should have your child examined by a physician — regardless of the severity of the crash. You should also watch for symptoms of injuries in the days and weeks after the car accident.

You can protect your child’s legal right to compensation by filing an injury claim. However, child injury claims can be complicated. Seeking legal advice to understand personal injury claims is generally in your child’s best interest.

If you are considering filing an injury claim, you should:

  • Document the details of your child’s recovery with pictures and notes 
  • Take pictures of physical injuries right after the crash and as the injuries heal
  • Keep a journal detailing your child’s recovery 
  • Make notes about your child’s daily struggle with pain, depression, withdrawal, nightmares, and other symptoms

This information can help your attorney prepare a case for maximum compensation for your child’s damages. 

It is always best to verify claim deadlines with an attorney. Missing a deadline for filing a lawsuit could result in the loss of compensation for damages. 

What Are the Odds of Dying in A Car Crash?

What Are the Odds of Dying in A Car Crash?

Since 2014, over six million motor vehicle accidents have been reported in the United States each year. In 2019 alone, there were 6,756,000 traffic accidents nationwide. The result was 36,096 traffic fatalities and 2.74 million injured persons. With such a high rate of accidents occurring each year, you may wonder: “what are the odds of dying in a car crash?”

Odds of Dying in a Car Crash Compared to Other Causes of Death

The National Safety Council (NSC) calculated the lifetime odds of dying from selected causes. In 2019, your odds of dying in a car accident were one in 107. Dying in a motor vehicle crash was eight on the list of causes of death. 

The other seven causes of death examined were:

  • Heart disease (1 in 6)
  • Cancer (1 in 7)
  • All preventable causes of death (1 in 24)
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease (1 in 27)
  • Suicide (1 in 88)
  • Opioid overdose (1 in 92)
  • Fall (1 in 106)

Most traffic accidents are the result of negligence or carelessness. In other words, traffic accidents are preventable in most cases. Drivers make mistakes or engage in dangerous driving behaviors that increase their risk of being in a car accident.

Common Causes of Car Crashes in the United States 

The most common causes of automobile accidents include:

Speeding

Speeding was a factor in 26 percent of the fatal auto accidents in 2019. As the vehicle speed increases, the chance of being in a crash and sustaining severe injuries increases. In 2019, over 9,475 speeding-related deaths were reported.

Distractions 

Distracted driving continues to be a contributing factor in many motor vehicle accidents. In 2019, distracted driving was a factor in six percent of fatal traffic accidents. 

The most common distraction was daydreaming or being lost in thought, followed by:

  • Cell phone use
  • People or objects outside of the vehicle
  • Vehicle occupants
  • Using or reaching for a device
  • Eating or drinking
  • Adjusting vehicle controls
  • Moving objects in the vehicle
  • Smoking

Any activity other than focusing on the road has the potential to be a deadly distraction.

Impaired Driving 

Drunk and drugged driving continue to be a problem throughout the country. Each day, approximately 28 people die because of a drunk driving accident. In 2019, approximately 10,142 people died in drunk driving accidents.

Impaired drivers typically face criminal charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The criminal penalty increases if someone is killed or severely injured because of a drunk driving accident. Likewise, drunk drivers may also be held financially liable for the damages caused by a DUI accident.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving caused 697 deaths in 2019. When a driver is fatigued or drowsy, their ability to operate a motor vehicle can be severely diminished. Moreover, the chance of falling asleep at the wheel increases, and reaction times and judgment can be severely inhibited. 

Failing to Follow Traffic Laws

Many accidents are caused by failing to follow traffic laws. Failing to yield the right of way, improper lane changes, and following too closely are common causes of traffic accidents. Other factors might contribute to the causes of these types of accidents, such as drunk driving and distracted driving. 

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a manner that is safe and does not place others at risk for injury or death. If the driver fails in that duty of care, the accident victim may sue the driver for damages.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim or Personal Injury Claim 

When a car accident injuries a person, that person may file a personal injury claim seeking compensation of damages. 

If the other driver is entirely at fault for the cause of the crash, the accident victim may demand full compensation for damages, including:

  • The cost of medical treatment and care
  • The cost of personal care and in-home health care
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Decreases in future earning potential
  • Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life

When a person dies in a car accident, the family may file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. The wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the family members for damages arising from their family member’s death. 

Damages in a wrongful death case may include financial losses, such as loss of income and funeral expenses. The family may also receive compensation for the loss of companionship, support, guidance, and care from their loved one. 

Lawsuits related to car accidents must be filed within a certain period after the car crash to satisfy the statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit seeking wrongful death or personal injury damages before the deadline, you give up your right to pursue an action in court. Seeking legal advice as soon as possible after a car accident is generally in a person’s best interest. 

Auto accident involving two cars

10 Factors That Can Affect What Your Car Accident Case is Worth

The value of a car accident claim depends on numerous factors, many of which are within your control. Understanding how these factors affect your claim can help you avoid errors and mistakes that could lower the value of the claim.

Ten Factors That Can Impact the Value of a Car Accident Claim

Issues that can affect how much you might receive for a car accident claim include:

1.  Liability for Causing the Collision

To recover full compensation for damages caused by a car crash, the other driver or party must be entirely responsible for causing the car accident. If there is any doubt as to who caused the crash, the value of your claim decreases. Therefore, investigating the cause of the crash and gathering evidence to prove liability is crucial.

Allegations of comparative fault are used to reduce the value of your claim. The laws regarding comparative fault vary by state. In California, you could be 99 percent at fault for the cause of a car crash and recover up to one percent of the value of your damages. 

However, in Nevada, if you are 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of the crash, you cannot recover any money for your damages. In both states, the amount of compensation you receive for your claim decreases by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the car wreck.

2.  Statements About the Accident

Any statements you make at the accident scene can impact the value of your injury claim. For instance, if you say, “I’m sorry,” you could be accused of admitting you were at fault for the cause of the accident. Never apologize or admit fault at the accident scene. 

Likewise, any statements you give to an insurance company or questions you answer for an insurance claims adjuster could hurt your claim. Insurance adjusters are trained to “get people to talk.” The more you talk about the accident, the better chance the adjuster has of obtaining information the company can use to deny or undervalue your claim.

In most cases, it is wise to talk to a car accident attorney as soon as possible, especially if the claims adjuster is pressuring you to make a formal statement.

3.  Severity of Injuries

The severity and type of injuries a person sustains in a car crash impact the value of a claim. Traumatic and catastrophic injuries increase the value of a car accident claim. Minor injuries that do not require significant medical treatment lower the value of the claim.

Examples of injuries that can increase the value of a claim include, but are not limited to:

  • Paralysis
  • Severe burns
  • Amputations or loss of limbs
  • Loss of vision or hearing
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Any permanent disability

Severe injuries generally result in more damages. Medical and personal care are more expensive for traumatic injuries. Also, traumatic injuries typically result in a higher amount of lost income because the duration of the recovery is longer. 

4.  Delays in Medical Treatment

Insurance companies search for ways to deny valid car accident claims. Delays in medical care give companies a reason to question your claim. 

The insurance company may claim that the car crash did not cause your injuries. It may argue that if you had been injured in the car accident, you would have seen a doctor immediately. It is generally best for your health and a future injury claim to see a doctor as quickly as possible after a car accident. 

5.  Financial Damages

If another driver is entirely responsible for causing the car accident, all financial damages should be reimbursed in a car accident claim. Therefore, the higher your financial damages, the higher the value of your car accident claim.

Financial damages in a car accident claim can include:

  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Medical expenses
  • Personal care costs
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Therapies and counseling
  • In-home health care
  • Help with household chores
  • Travel expenses
  • Legal costs

Careful documentation is vital. You can only receive reimbursement for financial damages that you can prove you incurred.

6.  Activities During Recovery

Remember, nothing you post online is private. A defense attorney may gain access to your social media posts and other information posted online. It is best to avoid using social media accounts until after your car accident claim has been settled.

If you were to post a picture of yourself at your niece’s pool party, a jury might believe you are lying about the extent of your damages. It would not matter that you were in chronic pain and left 10 minutes later. The perception would have already been created.

Failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan can also hurt the value of your claim. An insurance company may argue that you caused your injuries to become worse by not following the treatment plan. Because you caused your injuries to worsen, you do not deserve full compensation.

To avoid problems with your car accident claim, follow your doctor’s orders, avoid activities that contradict your injury claim, and stay off social media.

7.  Pre-Existing Conditions

Insurance companies often use pre-existing conditions as a way to undervalue car accident claims. The company claims your injuries are from a prior accident or medical condition instead of being caused by the car crash.

Having a pre-existing condition does not mean that you cannot recover compensation for a car accident claim. However, it can complicate the case. Always tell your attorney about any prior accidents and any medical conditions.

Most states require insurance companies and defendants to accept accident victims “as is.” In other words, you are entitled to compensation even if the accident caused a prior condition to become worse.

8.  Available Insurance Coverage

California and Nevada require drivers to carry minimum liability insurance. Unfortunately, the minimum insurance coverage is very low. If you sustain a severe injury, your car accident claim is likely to exceed the minimum coverage amount.

However, the insurance company is only required to pay your claim up to the policy limits. Therefore, the amount of insurance the other driver carries could impact the value of your car accident claim.

You could be entitled to additional compensation from your insurance company if you carry underinsured motorist coverage. 

9.  Permanent Disabilities and Impairments

Accident victims who sustain disabilities and permanent impairments are entitled to compensation for future damages such as:

  • Ongoing medical treatment
  • Personal care 
  • Future loss of income and benefits
  • Decreases in earning potential
  • Future pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life

The amount of future damages may be significant. Lost wages over a person’s lifetime could total millions of dollars. Medical experts, financial experts, economists, and other experts can calculate the value of future damages based on numerous factors.

10.  Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

The insurance company is not going to tell you how much your claim is actually worth. It wants to pay as little as possible to settle your claim. Without an attorney, you cannot be sure that the insurance company is offering a fair amount to settle your claim.

Also, most insurance companies are familiar with the record and reputation of lawyers who handle injury claims. Because the insurance company knows that you have someone on your side who is knowledgeable about injury claims, it may take the claim more seriously and offer a higher settlement amount to avoid litigation.

Therefore, hiring a personal injury lawyer may give you the best chance of recovering the maximum value for your car accident claim.