Car accident
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This article is written by Gitika Jain, from Amity University, Kolkata. This article deals with handling the wrecks and damages and the laws related to it.

Introduction

Before diving deep into the topic let us first know the particular damages we will be going to talk about in this article. In this article, we are going to discuss particularly the damages caused by motor vehicle accidents. It covers bus accidents, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, etc. Motor vehicle accidents are an unfortunate but common occurrence. This topic provides practical, legal information explaining what to do after an accident and the process for claiming for personal injury and property damage

Concept of car accident law

This refers to all the legal rules that help in determining who is responsible for the damage of personal property from a traffic collision. Car accident laws generally cover the principles of negligence. The other areas of law in which negligence is applied is governed entirely by state law. To recover compensation, car accident victims have to prove four basic elements that are duty, breach, causation and harm. Besides duty, drivers have certain legal obligations also to follow while operating vehicles. The legal obligations can be maintaining control, safe speed, observing traffic signals, using headlights, etc. There is no such argument on the existence of duty but on the contrary, evidence needs to be presented by the plaintiff to prove that the defendant has breached the duty. Direct evidence can be produced to disclose breach such as eyewitness, admission of fault, traffic surveillance video, etc. However, in the case of circumstantial evidence such as blood alcohol readings, paint smudges, skid marks, etc, the plaintiff needs to prove all of them. The plaintiff must also prove harm. The plaintiff cannot bring a negligence lawsuit unless the act has caused damage to the plaintiff’s person or vehicle. Once the harm has been established, the plaintiff may be entitled to receive compensation or other sorts of damages.

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Steps taken after the happening of an accident

  • The most important thing, after an accident, one can do, is to remain silent on the question of who is to be blamed for the particular incident. This step may sound simple but in the heat of the moment, even the potential litigants make a mistake of admitting the fault just after a crash. Although Indian Evidence Act does not support hearsay evidence, there are certain exceptions to such cases. Even a simple apology can take the case against the person.
  • Also, it is important to take down all the notes of the statement made by the other driver. Some of the electronic devices can be used for recording the voice memos in the accident such as smartphones, tablets, etc. It is important to gather as much detail about the accident as possible by whatever means available at the moment. One can even take down the driver’s name and address, the licence number and other related insurance information. 
  • Additional evidence can also be preserved i.e witness contact information, the description of the road, the traffic and the weather conditions, the pictures of the vehicle, etc.
  • Cell phones or cameras can be used to record the video of the event happening during the accident. The video should also include the location of the traffic sign. 
  • The name of the police officers could also be written to easily get the reports in hand.
  • Immediate medical attention is also a point to not to be overlooked at. There might be some injuries that might not be paid attention to during the accident but later on, the person might feel it.
  • The most important and non-negotiable act at the time of the accident that can be done to receive the victim’s right to compensation is to contact a lawyer. 

Motor vehicle accidents tend to compromise the most significant proportion of personal injury cases. Knowing all the rights and steps to do during or even after the accident can make a significant impact in a case and help an individual to protect his or her rights. Several factors determine who is responsible for the accident or who is liable for the damages. For example, a motorist is injured severely when another motorist tries to cut in front of him or her. In this situation, the former may be found liable if he or she tried to speed up or make an illegal lane change.

Legal guidance for accident liability

Car accident liabilities are to be based more on motor vehicle statutes than on common-law notions of fault, which has made it easier for the insurers to challenge the other party in an accident, for fault and liability who has violated a traffic law. 

Common law and car accident liability

The basic four levels of fault by common law are:

  • Negligence- It means a careless act that results in damage which is common in case of automobile accidents. Negligence can be caused by failing to do something or doing something which was not supposed to be done. 
  • Recklessness- Recklessness means willfully disregarding the safety and welfare of others. 
  • Strict liability- Even in the absence of any fault, strict liability can be imposed for such accidents which have certain defective products such as an explosion of harmful chemicals.
  • Intentional misconduct- Under the common law, people who cause a car accident or any accident of that sort, against another intentionally is said to have committed a tort. They are therefore referred to as tortfeasors under a law. Intentional misconduct can be drunk driving. 

Motor vehicle statutory violations

There are various laws passed by every state that regulate how the laws related to motor vehicles are to be followed. Most of the regulations are taken from common law. In case there is a violation of any of the statutes mentioned under such laws the person is said to have committed negligence. For example, if there has been a law passed by the State to wear a helmet for the motorcyclists, the person who doesn’t do that does an act of negligence.

Causes of road accidents

Road accidents, though they have been taking place quite often, they are the most unwanted thing to happen to a road user. Besides all this, the saddest part is that we do not learn from the mistakes we make on the road. Generally, people are all aware of the road rules or safety measures while using the road but when it comes to the execution part they often make mistakes which cause accidents and crashes. The reasons which result in such accidents are-

Overspeeding

It is one such act nowadays that is being practised by most of the human and is the reason for accidents in majority cases. Since it is a human tendency to excel in everything, they make the most use of this tendency while driving. We are not ready to accept the fact that when we share a road with such a huge population, we are going to be left behind some other vehicle. Increasing speed while driving results in increasing the risk of an accident. It is statistically proven that faster vehicles are more prone to accidents than slower ones. Therefore, the higher the speed, the greater the risk. Whenever someone is driving at a high speed it needs a greater distance to stop. However, whenever the vehicle is being driven slowly, it can stop faster than the high-speed vehicle. Faster vehicles can even skid due to the law of notion. Hence the high-speed vehicles will have a greater impact during the crash and are prone to more injuries. 

Drink and drive

It is next to impossible for today’s generation to not consume alcohol during the time of celebration or any occasion. But when this habit comes and gets mixed with driving it can even cause misfortune and sadden the moment of celebration. Alcohol reduces concentration and decreases the reaction time of a human body since the limbs take more time to react to the instructions of the brain. Because of all the factors, drinking while driving causes accidents. The risk of accident doubles with every increase of 0.05 blood alcohol concentration. It is not only alcohol but many drugs and medicines also do the same thing. The aim here is not to encourage the non-consumption of alcohol but to take necessary steps while doing so, especially not to drive when a person is drunk. 

Distraction to the driver

Distractions to the driver can be outside or inside the vehicle. Though they are minor, they can cause major accidents. One of the major distractions can be talking on mobile phones while driving. A person while talking to a phone tends to concentrate and contribute a major portion of his brain to this while a smaller portion towards driving. This particular division of brain and concentration level reduces time and ability of judgement which leads to crashes. Hence one should not attend phone calls while driving and if the call is urgent one should park the vehicle somewhere safe and then attend the call. Other distractions for the driver can be animals roaming on the road, adjustment of mirrors while driving, the radio inside the vehicle and banners and billboards. 

Red light jumping

It has become common nowadays that vehicles cross without caring for the traffic signals which leads to most of the crashes. The main reason behind them jumping the red signal is saving time. Common conception in the mind of the people nowadays is that the red signal only leads to wastage of time and fuel. Talking about original facts, studies have shown that people following the traffic signals actually saves time and reach the destination safely. The person ignoring the red light not only puts his life at risk but also others get influenced by him and do the same act risking their lives too. This act also is the reason for traffic jams. Red light jumpers cross the intersection with the highest speed which often leads to high chances of the happening of accidents to avoid challan. 

Not wearing safety gears like seat belts and hammers

Different states are taking different measures to circulate the fact that wearing safety gears while driving is a rule and failing to do so will result in a fine. For example, using a seat belt in four-wheeler vehicles is now compulsory and failing to do so will result in penalty. Similarly is the case with two-wheeler drivers. They need to wear helmets. These two things reduce the severity of injury to a great extent. Since the time when helmets were made compulsory for two-wheeler vehicles, accidents caused by two-wheelers have reduced drastically. So it is recommended that one should always use safety gears of prescribed standards to safeguard their life and others too.

Other ways through which we can take prevention for accidents can be educating and creating awareness about road safety in the society, enforcing strict rules of law and developing engineering prospects like better road infrastructure and vehicle designs. Other factors such as road conditions, for example, damaged road diversions, illegal speed breakers and weather conditions like fog, snow, heavy rainfall can also cause accidents. 

Conclusion

Considering all the factors, in mind, all need to act responsibly on roads while driving. Adopting all the ways suggested above, we all can ensure, reduce the number of accidents that take place daily. The most unwanted thing that can happen to any road user is an accident and everyone must take proper precautions before taking over the responsibility and sitting on the driving seat.

References


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