Motor vehicle accidents in Montana and elsewhere are occurring frequently these days, and the reports of wrong-way crashes, rear-end collisions and lane-changing sideswipes more often seem to be the causes. But why are drivers inclined to drive in a hazardous way that endangers their own and others’ lives?
According to a report from the National Safety Council (NSC), the upward trend of traffic fatalities over the past two years has sparked concerns about overall safety across the country. Although there were far fewer drivers on the road in 2020, when factoring in the total vehicle miles travelled (VMT) of all vehicles on roadways, there was a 24% increase in fatalities over 2019. The first half of 2021 saw an additional rise of 16% over 2020.
Factors that seem to be contributing to many of these accidents include distracted, impaired, or reckless driving habits that may have started when people were traveling on nearly empty roads. With traffic patterns back to almost normal, tragic and avoidable collisions are taking lives as well as causing millions of injuries.
What is distracted driving?
Driving distracted is anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road, and the distraction can be:
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that eight people die every day as a result of someone’s distracted driving. Looking at a text or searching a playlist, eating a sandwich or brushing hair, having a long conversation on the phone or otherwise multitasking while driving, are all examples of distracted driving. Reading a text while driving 55 mile an hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
What options do injured victims have after a crash?
Some accidents are unavoidable and can occur as a result of vehicle malfunction or adverse weather conditions. But when a driver is not paying attention while on the road or is alcohol- or drug-impaired, the suffering that victims and their families experience will change their lives forever.
While it is possible for the injured party to file a claim through their own insurance company or directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance, if the accident was due to the other driver’s negligence, a personal injury lawsuit may be the best way to proceed. In a civil court proceeding, the legal strategy is to prove that the actions of the other driver were negligent compared to a standard of what a reasonable person would do, and that the loss or injury that resulted has a monetary value that reflects the at-fault driver’s degree of responsibility.
For Missoula residents, recovering after an accident is challenging enough without having to fight insurance companies and worry about covering medical bills and lost wages. Knowing your options will help you to determine the best path toward recovery.