A three-car crash on Highway 96 illustrates the complicated fact patterns involved in many car wreck cases.

According to witnesses, a Toyota Camry driver was operating his vehicle erratically while tossing empty beer cans out of the window. After smacking into a pickup truck and causing it to roll down a steep embankment, the Camry careened into a Kia, forcing it off of the road and into a nearby creek. As he was transported into an ambulance, the tortfeasor (negligent driver), who told police that he suffered from a medical condition that affected his driving, reportedly apologized to one of the other drivers. The tortfeasor and three other people were all rushed to nearby hospitals with serious injuries.

Officials say they plan to charge the tortfeasor with littering and some other driving infractions, but that he was not impaired.

Don’t Say “I’m Sorry”

If you believe you were at fault for a vehicle collision, saying “I’m sorry” is an understandable reaction, especially here in the south. There is nothing wrong with the sentiment, but such a statement can be construed as an admission of liability. Furthermore, even though it was made out of court, insurance company lawyers can usually employ a legal loophole to have the statement admitted into evidence.

Do not take the opposite approach either. Even if the other driver seemed to be clearly at fault, do not make accusatory statements, because you will probably just make a bad situation even worse.

If you do believe the wreck was your fault, try to say something like “I’m sorry this happened to you” or “What can I do to help you?”

Distracted Driving

1,000 people a day are seriously injured by a distracted driver. Although using a cellphone, and specifically texting while driving, gets many of the headlines, distracted driving is actually any behavior that causes drivers to take their:

  • Hands off the wheel (manual),
  • Eyes off the road (visual), and/or
  • Minds off driving (cognitive).

A number of behaviors fall into one or more of these categories, including not only littering out the window but also things we all do, like talking to passengers or adjusting the air conditioner. The jury decides what behavior is acceptable and what behavior crosses the line. For example, a normal passenger-driver conversation may not be a breach of duty, but a heated argument may qualify as such.

Medical Conditions

People who suffer from medical conditions that could trigger loss of consciousness, such as epilepsy or some heart conditions, should not be driving, even if their licenses are legally valid. Similarly, drivers who have restrictions on their licenses, such as wearing glasses or driving only during the daytime, breach the duty of reasonable care if they drive in violation of these restrictions.

If the tortfeasor deliberately ignored a known risk and thereby endangered other people, additional punitive damages may be appropriate, in addition to compensatory damages for economic and noneconomic losses.

Contact Assertive Attorneys

Most car crashes involve complicated issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in High Point, contact McAllister, Aldridge & Kreinbrink PLLC at (336) 882-4300. Home and hospital visits are available.