Every day, car accidents across the nation lead to tragedy and broken families. Here in Nebraska, we are not exempt from these types of crashes. According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, in 2017 there were 36,227 car wrecks – all of which resulted in various degrees of severity and injury. Minor accidents may not seem to have lasting effects; but major car crashes can wreck an individual’s ability to work, provide for their loved ones, and live a happy and normal life.
When a serious auto wreck is caused by a reckless or careless driver, the consequences often seem even more devastating because you know there is someone at fault who may cause more wrecks. When a collision is caused by the negligence of a car manufacturer, the recovery process can take longer than it should because it can be difficult dealing with those large companies and their legal teams. When serious car wrecks are more than simple accidents, this is when they can impact us the most.
Luckily, this is also the time when U.S. citizens can fight back and obtain justice for the victims and their families. When individuals suffer from car accident injuries that are caused by negligence, carelessness, or reckless acts, the victim can file a lawsuit against the guilty party.
A lawsuit gives victims and their families an opportunity to obtain financial compensation that can be used to pay for medical bills, loss of employment wages, pain and suffering costs, and more. Additionally, a car wreck lawsuit provides families with peace of mind. When a negligent driver must pay a price for their reckless or careless actions, they’ll think twice before repeating those same actions.
If you’ve been in a serious auto wreck in the state of Nebraska and wish to recover financial compensation and peace of mind, you’ll need the help of an Omaha, NE car accident lawyer.
To get a better understanding of the laws surrounding car wrecks and your rights, we’ll take a look at some facts and statistics regarding collisions, the implications and consequences of such events, and how you can benefit from seeking legal representation.
Common Causes of Car Crashes in Nebraska
Automobile accidents happen due to a wide variety of factors. Some are related to the weather, poor visibility, or the conditions of the road or highway at any given time. These factors are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Many others, however, are due to mistakes made by drivers. These are the car crashes that are almost always 100 percent controllable and preventable.
Some of the most common causes for car collisions in the state of Nebraska include the following:
Driving too fast. Even under normal conditions, driving too quickly can lead to a devastating wreck because a speeding vehicle is more difficult to maneuver around curves and turns and is harder to stop. In 2016, there were a total of 562 accidents caused by speeding. 544 resulted in injury and 18 resulted in death. While these numbers are low compared to years’ past, the results are still devastating.
Failing to yield to the proper right-of-way. Right-of-way rules exist for a reason. Drivers expect one another to abide by these rules. When the rules are broken, accidents happen. Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6, 146 establishes who has the right-of-way at intersections and on the highway. At an intersection, the driver on the left is to yield to the driver on the right in the event they arrive at the same time. A driver merging onto a highway from a lane or ramp is supposed to yield to main traffic.
Inexperienced driving. Newer drivers are unfortunately at a higher risk of causing accidents. From 2007 to 2011, teen drivers were involved in 16.5 percent of all traffic accidents in Nebraska. Many of these collisions resulted from alcohol impairment, speeding, and cell phone use. Newer drivers should pay extra attention to the road and focus on being cautious to give themselves extra time to react.
Disregarding traffic controls. Road traffic controls, like stop signs, traffic lights, and construction zone signs, are in place to ensure the safety of the general public, pedestrians, emergency response teams, and construction workers. When drivers disregard these notices, collisions can easily result. Nebraska Revised Statute 30-6, 123 establishes the meanings of traffic control signals, as well as what drivers are allowed to do at a red light, and what the protocol is when a signal is not in service.
Drunk driving. Alcohol was involved in 30 percent of all fatal car crashes in the state of Nebraska in 2017. The majority of the impaired drivers were 25 to 34 years of age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.4 percent of Nebraska drivers reported driving after drinking too much. The national average is 1.9 percent. When drivers get behind the wheel chemically impaired, their reaction times, sense of vision, and sense of judgment all become significantly impacted.
Distracted driving. Just in 2016, there were almost 4,500 auto accidents related to distracted driving, and 144 of those incidents occurred because of cellphone use. Nebraska law bans texting while driving, along with 46 other states. Whether the distraction is being immersed in a conversation that’s occurring inside the vehicle, texting a friend, or capturing a quick photo on a smartphone, these can all lead to dangerous auto wrecks. In the frame of one second, a lot can go wrong on any roadway.
Poor vehicle maintenance or a defective vehicle. Cars require maintenance. Without proper maintenance, like oil and air filter changes and tire rotation, things can go horribly wrong on the highway. Similarly, vehicles that are improperly manufactured can break down and cause an automobile accident. In the event your car malfunctions, you may have the right to file a product liability claim.
Most of the above causes are completely or at least partially avoidable. If all Nebraska drivers did their part to obey the laws of traffic, pay attention to the road, and drive cautiously whenever appropriate, we could avoid a large percentage of our state’s auto collisions.
Types of Car Accidents
There are many kinds of auto wrecks and all have the ability to cause debilitating injuries. Understanding more about how your crash happened and how the other driver hit your car may inform how you were injured and help your claim.
Common types of car collisions include:
- Rear-End. This is a common issue on the road. It happens when the driver behind another car doesn’t stop in time and ends up hitting the back of the car in front of them. While drivers can’t always predict what the person in front of them will do, it’s their responsibility to pay attention and know what the driver is doing. Those who speed, tailgate, or are distracted may rear-end the vehicle in front of them. Rear-ending often causes injuries like whiplash, which can be painful.
- Head-On. These are usually the most severe and may also result in fatalities. The front of the car hits another vehicle, an animal, or a fixed object. If the car is traveling at high speeds, the impact can hurt the driver and passengers inside the vehicle.
- Single Vehicle. This is when the wreck only involves one vehicle. If a car runs off the road and hits a tree or other fixed object, rolls over, or hits debris in the road, it’s considered a single vehicle accident.
- Multiple Vehicle. Pile-ups can happen on busy roadways like highways or interstates. These are often dangerous because the vehicles involved may be hit more than once and at different angles. The chances of fatalities are higher with multiple vehicle collisions. These wrecks can also trap drivers and passengers inside their vehicles.
- Side-Impact. A side-impact collision is also known as a T-bone crash. All it takes is for a driver to not pay attention—they could accidentally run a stop sign or not slow down to let a vehicle turn and hit the side of the car. These crashes have varying degrees of severity. If the car isn’t moving quickly, it may bump into the side and not cause any major injuries; however, if the car is speeding and hits the door with a driver or passenger on the other side, the results can be fatal.
When your lawyer discovers what kind of accident occurred, they will look into how the driver’s negligence led to the event and how it impacted you. Our auto accident lawyers are trained in investigating an accident scene and will also look to other resources to find out what happened. Traffic cameras, home or business surveillance systems, and eyewitnesses can also provide accounts of what happened.
The Implications and Consequences of Car Accidents
Of the 36,227 car accidents in Nebraska in 2017, 210 were fatal, 12,278 resulted in injury (1,228 of which were serious), and 22,511 resulted in only property damage.
Serious accidents can lead to lifelong consequences involving painful and debilitating injuries and medical conditions, hospital time, surgeries, the inability to work which can cause a loss of employment, income loss, the loss of medical insurance that may be provided through employment, and a wide variety of emotional hardships for both the victim and family members.
Below are some of the most common injuries that can happen as a result of an auto wreck.
- Back and Spinal Cord Injuries. Whiplash, spinal cord damage, herniated discs, and sprains are common back and spinal cord injuries. Some of these injuries may heal over time with proper treatment and physical therapy. Others can be incredibly debilitating and may result in paralysis.
- Broken Bones. Broken bones often take a long time to heal and may require multiple surgeries.
- Burn Injuries. The severity of a burn can range from minor to life-threatening. Burn injuries, especially the severe ones, often require months of treatment. Permanent scarring and disfigurement can happen.
- Head and Brain Injuries. Head and brain injuries vary; however, concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), internal bleeding, and lacerations are common.
- Soft Tissue Injuries. Soft tissue injuries occur when the muscles, tendons, or ligaments are stretched or torn during an accident. These injuries can be incredibly painful.
To treat these injuries and recover from any financial, physical, and emotional hardships, a family needs to stick together after a serious car wreck and do whatever they can to return to the task of living. To make matters worse, the other driver’s insurance adjusters may hound a family to settle early. Doing so will inevitably cause financial hardships. The other driver’s insurance agents are not on your side, which is why an experienced legal team can help you get what you deserve.
Legal Responsibilities and Rights after a Nebraska Car Accident
In the event you’re the victim of a car wreck, it’s important to know your legal responsibilities and rights.
Immediately following a collision, it’s imperative to evaluate yourself for injuries, check on the other party, and seek emergency medical care. After you’ve done so, you’ll need to collect contact information from the other driver. To report the accident, you’ll need their name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, and auto insurance information.
After you’ve addressed your medical concerns, the state of Nebraska gives you ten days to file a car accident report with the proper authorities. You are legally required to make a report if someone was injured or killed, or if more than $1,000 in property damage occurred. You can access the Driver’s Motor Vehicle Accident Report form here. If you do not report it, you risk the suspension of your driver’s license.
In order to recover damages from your wreck, you have three options in Nebraska: 1) file a claim with your own insurance company, 2) file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company, or 3) file a lawsuit. Keep in mind the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit in Nebraska is four year.
If you choose to file a claim with an insurance company, you will need to provide them with information on the accident. They’ll assign an adjuster to your case and it will be investigated. If they decide to offer you a settlement, be cautious about agreeing to the first number. If you feel as though you’re being offered less than you deserve, you can attempt to negotiate the settlement yourself or hire legal representation.
Don’t Put Your Claim in Jeopardy
Your car accident settlement will help you afford medical expenses, car damages, and living costs if you’re unable to work. Your actions after the collision can potentially affect your claim. If you act in a way that hurts your claim, your compensation can be reduced. To give your claim the best chance of success, avoid the following behavior following your auto wreck.
- Lose Your Temper. You may be angry after a fender bender, but shouting and blaming the other driver isn’t going to help you. It’s best to remain calm and get the information you need.
- Leave the Scene. There may be a moment where you just want to drive away from the scene, but this won’t help you solve the matter. Waiting for police and reporting the incident will get it on record that could help you with your case later.
- Post on Social Media. It’s common these days for people to post nearly everything on their social media platforms. Someone may post about their automobile wreck on social media, but this isn’t a good idea. Whatever is on the post, whether it’s directing anger at the responsible party or just an update of what happened, the content can be used against you. If you post photos of going somewhere after the accident or are posting at all, it may be used as evidence that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim they are.
- Sign Documents or Make Official Statements. An insurance adjuster may contact you shortly after your accident. Do not sign anything, agree to be recorded, or make any official statements until you’ve spoken with your lawyer.
People from insurance companies will not go out of their way to protect your best interests. Our car accident lawyers in Omaha will make sure you don’t do anything that could result in getting a settlement that’s less than you deserve.
Get the Help You Need from Welsh & Welsh
Dealing with pushy insurance agents, getting the financial help you need while you’re still recovering from injuries, and returning to the task of living can be incredibly difficult without legal assistance. With the help of a personal injury attorney, your family can recover and gain peace of mind.
Remember, the victim is not to blame. At Welsh & Welsh, we help victims and their families get their lives back in order. Our law office can pair you with an expert Omaha, NE car accident lawyer who can speak to you regarding your case and tell you if filing a claim is in your best interest. Contact us to learn more.