Last year, more than 40,000 people died in car accidents in the United States, and 4.6 million people were injured seriously enough to need medical attention. In West Virginia, 303 people died in car accidents. West Virginia the eighth most dangerous state in terms of car accidents, with a fatality rate four times that of the state with the lowest fatality rate.
These figures could lead one to believe that accidents are happening all over the roads, on fast-moving highways and freeways. But in fact, most car accidents happen within 25 miles of home.
The Causes Behind Neighborhood Accidents
Why do so many accidents happen on familiar streets? There are several reasons.
First, it’s the fact that they are familiar. Almost every driver has experienced the phenomenon of arriving home without really having paid conscious attention to the streets or to traffic. Whether you are daydreaming, thinking about work, or planning dinner, it’s easy to let your mind go when you are driving familiar byways, because you do know, for example, that the traffic light is coming up. You are much more likely to pay close attention if the route is unfamiliar.
Second, you may simply be close to home more frequently than you are other places in the car. After all, you begin and end from your home every time you drive, and that might be the only place of which that can be said. Most accidents occur during commute hours. You may commute from and to your home every day.
Third, you may be more prone to skimp on safe driving practices on streets that you know to be usually safe. If you know that a road is usually deserted at a particular time, why not speed a little? No one is ever at the four-way stop, so why come to a full stop? Thoughts like these may be common – and they can cause accidents.
Fourth, if people do have an accident close to home, they may be more likely to be injured or even killed. Why? Because many people don’t wear seat belts if they are just heading out for a quick grocery run or other neighborhood errand. It feels safe. But it’s not. First, accidents can happen in just a few feet from your front door. Second, seat belts have been shown to reduce both accidents and deaths by roughly 50 percent.
What If You’ve Been in a Car Accident Close to Home?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident close to where you live, you may be entitled to compensatory damages if the other driver was at fault. All drivers are responsible for obeying West Virginia’s traffic laws and regulations and for operating their vehicles safely, at all times. If they fail to obey the law or weren’t operating the vehicles safely, they can be found negligent, and therefore responsible for the accident.
Injured people can bring a personal injury claim against an at-fault driver for medical expenses, costs to repair their vehicle, loss of earnings, lost wages, and emotional distress.
At times, two or more drivers may bear partial responsibility for an accident. In those cases, West Virginia applies a modified comparative negligence rule.
If you were injured, but the court found you partly responsible, any damage compensation you receive is reduced by the percentage you were found responsible, as long as your degree of responsibility is not more than the combined fault of all other people involved. In other words, if you are awarded $50,000 for medical bills, but are thought to be 10 percent at fault, the amount you actually get will be $45,000, 10 percent less than $50,000.
A West Virginia Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Having any kind of vehicle accident can be painful and traumatic. One close to home may be especially so. But if you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident near your home, we can help you fight for justice.