Traveling by foot is not terribly common in the United States. In fact, only 11% of transport happens on foot, yet pedestrians are involved in 13% of vehicle-related fatalities. Each year, more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed in collisions with automobiles, while another 70,000 are injured. These are shocking statistics , but what is even more shocking is that the majority of pedestrian accidents are not caused by the behavior of drivers, but by the pedestrians themselves.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , 73% of pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas, which is to be expected, since foot travel is more common in more densely populated areas. Thus, being a pedestrian in an urban environment alone increases your risk of being involved in an accident, but there are a few more specific causes of pedestrian accidents. Some of these situations are the fault of the pedestrian, while others are the fault of the urban environment.

Usually, but not always.

Rear-end crashes are the most common type of vehicle accident in the United States, accounting for about 1.7 million crashes each year. Of those crashes, about 1,700 are killed and an additional 500,000 are injured. If you have been driving for any length of time, you are probably under the impression that the driver of the following vehicle (the one that crashes into the back of the lead vehicle) is always at fault for rear-end accidents. While it is true that the drivers of rear vehicles in rear-end crashes are usually mostly at fault, there are several situations that can reduce or entirely eliminate the rear driver’s liability.

Why Following Drivers are Almost Always at Fault

Damages in a personal injury lawsuit are designed to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries he has suffered and to put him the same position he was in before the accident occurred. Some types of damages are objective and easily calculated, such as medical expenses and lost wages. But pure economic damages are often not enough to make the plaintiff whole again. After all, he has just undergone a traumatic ordeal and suffered injuries that are not as easily quantifiable as medical bills and lost wages. This is where non-economic damages come into play. Non-economic damages are the abstract damages a plaintiff suffers during and after an accident, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

These types of damages are a little trickier to calculate.

Measuring Pain and Suffering

Car accidents can lead to a number of injuries, including bruises, broken bones, and whiplash. One of the more severe injuries that are common in car crashes are brain injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.3% of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by car crashes, affecting roughly 2 million Americans per year. These types of injuries are so severe because the brain is the most important organ in the body, and even minor injuries to it can have long-ranging and life-altering effects.

Causes and Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by violent blows to the head, either from being struck with an object or from the head coming into contact with a hard surface. There are two types of traumatic brain injuries: open and closed. An open traumatic brain injury occurs when a foreign object pierces the skull and enters the brain. A closed traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump or a blow to the head. Because closed head injuries are much more common than open head injuries in car crashes, that is the type that we will focus on here.

No one is ever truly prepared for a car accident—you’re simply driving along, maybe listening to your favorite song, and out of nowhere your life changes in an instant. Although every accident is different, there are some important steps you need to take after you’ve been involved in one to make sure that the police and insurance companies have all of the information they need to make a determination of fault and compensate the victims. If an accident is particularly serious, you may even need to hire an attorney.

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take immediately after an accident and when you might want to consider hiring an attorney.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Automobile accidents of any kind can have devastating consequences, but trucking accidents are particularly dangerous due to the larger size of the vehicle involved. Truck accidents are more common in large metropolitan areas like Atlanta simply due to the presence of more of them on the roadways and more traffic bogging them down. While truck drivers are trained professionals who are generally safer drivers than regular motorists, accidents can and do happen.

Driver negligence plays a large role in trucking accidents, but they can also be caused by a variety of of other circumstances, including weather, road hazards, or the poor driving of others on the road. As with almost all types of automobile accidents, the most popular legal theory underlying liability in a trucking accident is negligence. A plaintiff in a trucking accident suit must show:

  1. That the defendant truck driver owed the plaintiff a duty of care—in this case, they would owe the plaintiff the degree of care to avoid injury under the circumstances

You’ve probably heard of punitive damages before, most likely through a high-profile verdict against a defendant who is seen by the public as having deep pockets. Punitive damages are controversial because the purpose of a civil action is to compensate the plaintiff, not to punish the defendant. Punishment of defendants is usually reserved for the criminal courts. However, punitive damages are intended to do just that–to punish the defendant when their behavior has been particularly vicious by awarding the plaintiff monetary awards that are greater than the amount necessary purely for compensation.

To understand how punitive damages work, we’ll need to take a quick look at how damages are awarded in a civil lawsuit.

Compensatory Damages

In most personal injury lawsuits, the reason why the plaintiff was injured usually boils down to negligence. Negligence requires a showing of a duty owed to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages. In most cases, the duty owed is that of a “reasonably prudent person.” When the defendant’s conduct falls below that standard, he or she has breached this duty. Once the plaintiff establishes that his or her injuries were caused by this breach, a case of negligence has been established.

The compensation the plaintiff receives—known as “damages” in legal parlance—is the amount of money necessary to compensate the victim for the injury and to make him whole, as if the accident had never happened. However, this classic conception of negligence assumes that the defendant was totally at fault for the accident and that the plaintiff was blameless. What happens if the plaintiff was also partially at fault for the accident? In these cases, the courts developed the legal doctrines of contributory negligence and comparative negligence.

Contributory Negligence

Driving is an inherently dangerous activity. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over three million people are injured every year in vehicle accidents in the United States. Some of these injuries are fairly minor, but, depending on the severity of the accident, can require extensive hospitalization and recovery time.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of injuries that can arise from car accidents.

Whiplash

No one is ever truly prepared for a car accident—you’re simply driving along, maybe listening to your favorite song, and out of nowhere your life changes in an instant. Although every accident is different, there are some important steps you need to take after you’ve been involved in one to make sure that the police and insurance companies have all of the information they need to make a determination of fault and compensate the victims. If an accident is particularly serious, you may even need to hire an attorney.

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take immediately after an accident and when you might want to consider hiring an attorney.

What to Do After a Car Accident

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