Injuries and Deaths during Car Accidents: Not Just Statistical Data

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies conducted a study, the result of which shows that teen drivers are four times more likely to be involved in fatal car accidents than adults. The reasons, however, are not due to poor weather condition, drowsy driving, vehicle malfunction or aggressive driving. Of the more than 800 accidents analyzed, three critical teen driver errors were revealed:

  • Not enough road scanning. One very important ability that experienced drivers have developed overtime is keen observation of their vehicle’s surroundings (sides and the road ahead) instead of just the very few meters of road fronting their car’s hood. This is one skill that will help and allow teen drivers to detect and respond to possible hazards up ahead.
  • Driving too fast for road conditions. Rather than driving at controllable speed, many teen drivers prefer faster driving, which greatly reduces their capability to successfully navigate a curve or respond to other motorists.
  • Driving distractions. Though getting distracted while behind the wheel is a common fault among all drivers, teens, obviously, are still the kind of drivers who get distracted more easily. Eating, grooming, adjusting or operating an electronic device, talking with friends, turning the radio’s volume to full blast and, worst, texting or talking with someone using a cell phone, are just some of the very common distractions teens are often guilty of.

Some other errors committed by young drivers include failure to use signal lights, tailgating, not slowing down or stopping when making a turn, improperly overtaking another vehicle, making sudden lane changes, beating the red light (according to the National Safety Council, this is the fourth most common type of driver error that results in accidents), and failure to use the seat belt, a car safety feature that has saved thousands of lives in the past.

Driver error, which includes all forms of distracted driving, is always an act of negligence; thus, it is a totally preventable thing. About 81% of all car accidents, which number to more than five million every year, is due to driver negligence – a fault that legally requires a liable party to compensate his/her victim.

It would seem that many drivers see car accidents, injuries and deaths as mere statistical data. They may probably never really realize the tragic effects of these accidents on victims’ lives until they become the victims themselves. Negligence, no matter who commits it or where it is committed, can always be a source of danger. If one cannot respect others’ lives, then what right does he/she have to ask or demand respect from others?

A webpage with address, www.resminilawoffices.com/practice-areas/car-accidents/, says, “you can only control your own driving behavior; there is not much you can do to control what others do out there on the road. Careless, reckless, and negligent drivers abound. Some fail to keep their attention focused on the road and become distracted, while others get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs, disregard traffic laws, or run red lights and stop signs. Others drive too fast or too aggressively, or fail to adjust their driving for road or weather conditions. As a result, some unlucky drivers and their passengers, in spite of responsible, focused, and skillful driving, find their lives in turmoil, their bodies broken, and their finances in a shambles, all because of another’s wrongdoing.”

Child Car Seat Defects

When buying a new car, it is advised that a customer asks what safety features his/her choice car is equipped with, besides the mandated seat belt, airbag and child safety seat. These three are crash-safety devices and manufacturers have long been required by the federal government to make sure that cars are equipped with these features which are meant to keep vehicle occupants from sustaining serious or fatal injuries during crashes.

A car that has a defective design or part is always a threat, first to the safety of its driver and occupants and, second to everyone else on the road. Unfortunately, despite the minimum performance requirements for car parts that are laid down by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) duty to ensure that car manufacturers comply with federal standards on vehicle safety and excellence, and car manufacturers’ legal duty to make sure that every unit of vehicle that leaves their plant is safe and can keep drivers and occupants safe, so many cars with defects continue to be sold and purchased by unsuspecting buyers. Due to the threats presented by these defects, recalls have been ordered by the NHTSA since 1966 which affected more than 390 million mopeds, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, buses, trucks and cars; 66 million pieces of motor vehicle parts; 46 million tires; and, 42 million child safety seats.

In 2013 alone, NHTSA records show 22 million vehicles recalled by more than 10 car manufacturers due to defective parts; these specifically included seat belts, tires, steering wheel, brake pads, wipers, child seats and air bags that deploy despite the vehicle not crashing; there was also a case in which gas leaked from the engine, increasing risk of fire. These 22 million vehicle recalls in 2013 was still lower, however, compared to 30.8 million recalls made by NHTSA in 2004.

One specific car part that can probably cause the worst harm, if defective, is child car-seat. In 2003, after receiving 2,700 reports of malfunctioning car seats and more than 200 reports of related injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) decided on recalling four million infant car seats/carriers: the defect was on the product’s handles, which could fail to properly lock or break during ordinary use. In 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 602 children aged 12 or below died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes,while more than 121,350 were injured.

While child car seats have generally saved millions of infants from injury or death, some have actually been causes of injuries and/or death too. This, according to Chicago auto accident attorneys, is because car defects aren’t detected until the time of a crash, allowing for a greater risk of an unanticipated, life-threatening injury. The presence of defects, however, only means that a manufacturer has failed to uphold the safety regulations aimed at protecting consumers. This renders him/her liable for the harm that results from his/her defective product.

The family of a child, who is injured because of a defective child safety seat, may grounds for a product liability claim. Filing a claim, however, more so, proving that the injury was due to a defective part is not easy. This will definitely require expert opinion from forensics scientists, mechanical experts and a highly-skilled attorney to prove that the family has a valid product liability claim.