Car accidents have been one of the leading causes of accidental injuries and fatalities throughout the United States for many years. While the leading causes of car accidents include driving under the influence, speeding, and cell phone use behind the wheel, serious accidents can also occur from more unusual causes. All California drivers should remain vigilant while driving and know some of the more obscure but possible ways for an accident to happen.
Accidents Caused by Wildlife
Each year, thousands of accidents in the US occur due to drivers striking wildlife crossing the road. Deer are the most common animal victims of motor vehicle collisions, but other animals can also cause accidents. If domesticated animals like sheep, goats, horses, or cows escape their enclosures and find their way to the road, they can easily cause severe accidents. Other wildlife such as foxes, coyotes, and even mountain lions have appeared on California roads and caused accidents.
If you drive in an area with lots of forested terrain, winding turns, and uneven elevations, pay close attention to the road ahead and be prepared for any wildlife that may find their way in front of your vehicle. Colliding with an animal can cause severe injuries and vehicle damage, and an insurance claim may be the injured driver’s only available means of securing recovery for their losses.
Accidents from Poor Vehicle Maintenance
It is possible for a driver to absorb responsibility for an accident if the accident occurred due to a mechanical problem with their vehicle. All drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure proper care and maintenance of their vehicles. Neglecting to maintain your vehicle could lead to a very serious accident. It is also possible for a mechanic or auto repair shop to absorb liability for this type of accident if the vehicle’s driver paid for service and believed the vehicle to be safe to drive.
Evidence from a car accident may reveal that the driver responsible for the crash failed to address known safety issues with the vehicle. This could include underperforming brakes, overly worn brake pads, balding tires, ignored dashboard safety indicators, or cracked windshields.
Distracted driving is a serious problem in the US and a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Distraction takes many forms, and while cell phone use is widely known to be the most dangerous form of distracted driving, it is also possible for distracted driving accidents to happen because of “rubbernecking,” or a driver’s insistence on turning their head to look at something happening on or near the road.
For example, a driver notices many flashing lights ahead and notices police activity on the side of the road. While turning their head to look, they fail to notice the driver in front of them has slowed down, and the rubbernecking driver causes a rear-end collision because they were not paying attention. This is a clear example of distracted driving. While unusual, it is still quite possible on California roads.
“Road rage,” or aggressive driving, is incredibly dangerous for both the aggressive driver and every other driver around them. Aggressive driving is typically characterized by speeding, very sudden lane changes and swerves without signaling, cutting off other drivers, illegal merging, and even intimidation of other drivers through aggressive maneuvers. While accidents caused by road rage are not as common as other accidents, these incidents can and do occur.
A driver who causes a serious accident due to willful misconduct and intentional aggression will likely face criminal prosecution in addition to civil liability. California law allows a plaintiff who sustains damages from another party’s willful aggressive conduct to receive punitive damages awarded at the judge’s discretion. The amount awarded depends on the defendant’s overall financial position and the severity of the defendant’s behavior.
Poor Road Quality
The roads in California are under the control and supervision of various government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. The US Department of Transportation, the California Department of Transportation, and various local-level government agencies are responsible for different roads in California. If an accident occurs due to a government agency’s failure to take appropriate care of a stretch of road or repair an obvious safety hazard, one might assume that the agency responsible for the road would be liable for the resulting damages.
Unfortunately, it is often impossible to take civil action against a government entity due to sovereign immunity laws that insulate government offices from civil liability. In the event an accident occurs because the government, at any level, failed to ensure proper road safety, it is possible to file a claim for damages under certain conditions. However, this process is very different than pursuing civil action against a private party. It will be essential to work closely with an experienced attorney to navigate this type of legal situation.
These are just a few of the unusual ways car accidents can happen in California. If you or a loved one recently experienced injuries and other losses due to a car accident and you are not sure what to make of the situation or your legal options, contact the Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC to schedule a free consultation with our team.