Being involved in a car accident can be painful, scary and overwhelming. At the scene, you might worry that the whole thing was your fault—maybe you looked down for a few seconds, can’t recall the color of the traffic light or feel like the other car came out of nowhere. You might be tempted to take the blame for everything that happened.
At White & Associates, we discourage people from jumping to conclusions about what happened. There are many things that they might not know about their accidents and that can be discovered only by reviewing all the evidence or partnering with experts such as accident reconstructionists. The evidence often reveals the hidden causes of car accidents. There are many possible hidden causes of a car accident, including the ones we’ve listed below.
What was the other driver doing just before impact? A lawyer’s investigations often reveal that the other driver was distracted. Phone records show that he or she was talking on the phone at the time of the crash or even sending text messages. Under Minnesota law, texting while driving is illegal.
Your attorney can also ask the other driver and witnesses to the accident to answer written questions (called interrogatories) or give interviews under oath (called depositions). The answers to the attorney’s questions sometimes reveal that the driver was distracted by other things in the vehicle—like children in the backseat or a cheeseburger from the drive-thru.
Your lawyer may also investigate the road conditions related to the crash. It’s possible that a dangerous roadway may be to blame. Things like improper roadway markings, defective railroad crossings, gradients built too steeply or negligent construction crews may be to blame—or at least a significant factor in the crash.
How would you know if your accident involves a dangerous roadway? If your lawyer discovers that many accidents have happened on the same curve or at the same intersection, for example, this can be a red flag.
Defective Car Parts
A driver’s failure to hit the brakes could be caused by something other than distracted driving or poor reaction time. It’s possible that the brakes themselves were dangerous or defective. In that case, attorneys sometimes pursue compensation from the car’s manufacture.
Over the years, many auto manufacturers have faced litigation related to defective car parts—like tires that exploded under pressure, roofs that failed to protect passengers in the event of roll-over accidents, or airbags that caused more injuries than they prevented. The people involved may have thought that the serious injuries were their entire fault, but experienced attorneys knew that there was more to the story.
Intoxication may also be a factor in the crash—even if the other driver didn’t smell like alcohol or appear drunk. A person doesn’t have to drink to be intoxicated behind the wheel. Many drugs can also impair a driver’s ability. This includes illegal drugs, as well as legally-prescribed drugs. A driver who was behind the wheel after taking a prescription sleep medication, for example, may be driving while intoxicated without ever taking a sip.
It’s rare, but it’s been known to happen: Drivers deliberately cause accidents to start lawsuits and collect insurance money. If your attorney thinks something is shady, he or she may investigate. Fraud could certainly be possible.
So, what’s the lesson here? Before you jump to conclusions about your role in a car accident, talk with an attorney who can review the evidence with you. You’re always welcome to contact one of our lawyers at White & Associates.