In February 2017 alone, the New York Police Department reported 15,553 motor vehicle collisions. The per-day average of 555 crashes was typical — unless you were one of the injured parties.
Traffic incidents are the source of thousands of personal-injury lawsuits annually in the United States, for good reason. There are more people than ever on the roads, and not all of them are paying attention while driving, leaving a trail of fatalities, injured parties, and damaged property in their wake.
More than 40,000 people died in motor-vehicle crashes across the U.S. during 2016, up 6% over 2015, according to a National Safety Council (NSC) report. New York state reported 953 of those deaths, to rank 13th among the 50 states.
Texas had the most, with 3,751 crash deaths, followed by California with 3,680.
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The NSC reported bicycle, pedestrian, and motorcycle deaths also rose, and that in addition to fatal accidents, another 4.6 million people were injured badly enough to require medical attention. The estimated costs to society: $432 billion.
The reasons for the statistical spikes during certain periods are many — from lower gas prices to increasingly distracted drivers who seem more occupied with their cellphones, DVD players, coffee cups, and stereo systems than the steering wheel.
Regardless of the cause, thousands of drivers and passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists in New York are injured annually because of the poor driving of others, inclement weather, driver fatigue, drunk driving, or excessive speeding, among other reasons.
A 2016 AAA survey found 87% of drivers admitted to engaging in some sort of risky behavior behind the wheel in the previous month. These included:
- 70% reporting talking on a cellphone while driving.
- 48% saying they had driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway and 15% saying they do it regularly.
- 32% admitting to drowsy driving, defined as having a hard time staying awake.
- 39% reporting they ran a red light when they could have safely stopped.
- 13% admitting to driving while likely under the influence of alcohol.
Distracted driving is increasingly a culprit. The same AAA survey found that in addition to the seven in 10 who admitted to talking on the phone while behind the wheel, 42% admitted to reading texts, and 32% admitted to typing a text while driving.
New York is one of 18 states and U.S. territories that ban hand-held cellphone use while driving, but compliance is hard to measure.
For those who have been injured in a car accident, the first step is clear. Detailed laws and guidelines apply with regard to seeking compensation for injuries, pain, and suffering or other losses sustained as the result of a car accident.
For the best chance at earning a maximum insurance settlement or jury award, turn to Weitz & Luxenberg. The elite staff at Weitz & Luxenberg — New York’s largest personal injury litigation firm — has been fighting for clients in civil courthouses for three decades.
A Weitz & Luxenberg attorney can not only ensure that the injured parties receive all the insurance benefits to which they are entitled but also explore whether a personal injury lawsuit might be warranted in order to pursue other forms of compensation.
A qualified and experienced attorney can make all the difference, especially when he or she has the heft of one of the city’s largest firms behind them. In many instances, the strength of a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance carrier will depend on how effectively an attorney can collect evidence, interview witnesses, and present information to support the claim that the other driver was at fault. If no agreeable settlement can be reached, a civil trial is often the next step.
Proving negligence on the part of the other driver is the key element in most cases; however, there are other forms of car-related injury lawsuits. Sometimes, cases are filed as a result of a manufacturing defect (seatbelts, brakes, etc.) in the vehicle itself, or if the road design or traffic signs somehow contributed to the accident under question. If a death occurs as a result of a crash, a wrongful death case is a possibility, which could allow family members to seek compensation for lost wages, noneconomic damages, and punitive damages.
Examples of economic damages include costs to the client associated with past and future medical bills, lost wages as a result of an inability to work, and lost future wages because of permanent disability. Noneconomic damages can sometimes include compensation for pain and suffering, mental duress, and, if the actions of the defendant were unusually reckless, punitive damages.
The staff at Weitz & Luxenberg works on a contingency basis, so there are no legal fees until a financial settlement or jury verdict is awarded to its clients. If someone has been harmed in an auto accident, especially if other drivers were at fault, contact Weitz & Luxenberg for a free and confidential analysis regarding possible compensation at (800) 476-6070.