Common Causes of Car Accidents in Prince William County

There are many different ways someone can be involved in a car accident. Drivers need to be aware of many different factors when they are on the road. As such, car accidents can be common events in Prince William County. Speak to an experienced lawyer to discuss your case and your options for compensation.

Basically, anytime a driver is doing something that he or she wasn’t supposed to do and it caused an accident, that person can be found liable because he or she was not exercising the reasonable care that other drivers would exercise in that situation.

Rear-End Collisions

One of the most common causes of an accident is when one car rear-ends the car ahead of it, and there are a few reasons why that happens. Sometimes, it happens in stop-and-go traffic. In these situations, people are often not paying as much attention to the road as they should because they’re bored, they’re in traffic and they’re agitated. Many things like playing on the phone, talking to someone else or fiddling with the radio, can distract somebody and cause their car to roll into the back of another car. If you have been involved in a car accident in Prince William County, you should find a Prince William County car accident attorney who has experience in the local court system.

Another reason that people have rear-end collisions is that they don’t adequately estimate the distance between cars. In other words, they don’t give themselves enough time to stop safely before hitting the person ahead.

Another situation that leads to read-end collisions is when someone is following too closely because he or she is impatient with the speed of the person ahead or there’s no room to pass, so the person tries to pressure the other driver by driving closer in the hopes that the slower driver will move lanes.

Intersection Accidents

Intersection accidents are also common in Virginia. This could be a “T-bone” accident, where the front of one car hits the middle of another car, or it could involve two cars colliding head-on in an intersection because one is trying to turn left and the other is trying to turn right. Alternatively, two vehicles could come into contact in some other way because one person tries to beat a light or doesn’t come to a full stop at a stop sign, thus not leaving enough time to allow a car crossing the intersection to pass through.

Head-On and Side-Swipe Collisions

Car accidents in Prince William County also often happen going around a curve or up a hill where visibility is limited. In limited-visibility situations, it’s sometimes too late to react upon seeing another car, resulting in a head-on collision, a sideswipe or some other accident involving two vehicles.

Running Stop Signs

If a driver failed to obey a traffic sign, device or any kind of statutory rule of the road, then that can form the basis of the theory that the person was negligent in the operation and use of a motor vehicle. That can be used against the person, meaning that he or she can be found liable for causing the collision between the two vehicles. And if someone is found to be negligent, then you’d move on to the damages portion of the case.

Tailgating in Prince William County

Tailgating involves two or more vehicles wherein one vehicle is traveling very closely behind another one. If the vehicle in the rear is considered too close to the vehicle ahead, that can be an example of negligent operation and use of a motor vehicle because the tailgater is not leaving enough space between the two vehicles and therefore is not allowing enough time to react to any sudden movements from the car ahead. If someone is found to be tailgating, either through citation by a police officer or through the testimony of the people involved, that also gives rise to the inference that the person was following too closely and was negligent in the operation of the vehicle. Liability is generally easy to prove in that case.

Improper Turns and Unsafe Lane Changes

Unsafe lane changes and improper turns are examples of negligent behavior. If you assert that the cause of an accident was the negligence of another driver, you might use those actions as examples of the person’s bad driving behavior to support your claim. If someone does not leave enough room for other drivers while merging or changing lanes, or if someone changes lanes inappropriately by doing so too quickly or cutting people off, that can be used as evidence that the person was negligent. Making an improper turn such as a right-hand turn from a left-side lane can also be an example of negligent behavior and can help support your claim.

Driving at Night in Bad Weather

Driving at night by itself doesn’t affect liability one way or another. But when driving at night, especially in winded or rural areas, visibility is reduced. Visibility means your ability to see a certain distance ahead of you. You might be able to see down a roadway for 400 feet or so during the daytime, but at nighttime that visible distance is typically decreased, so people need to exercise a higher degree of care when driving at night. If someone fails to do that and causes an accident, then that can be used as a basis for a charge of negligence against that driver because he or she was not acting according to the reasonable person standard in operating his or her vehicle.

The same principle applies to bad weather in that the bad weather by itself doesn’t necessarily cause an accident. It just means that drivers need to exercise a certain level of care, which is higher than what it would be on a clear day or a sunny day. When there’s bad weather such as rain, sleet, snow or any other kind of moisture on the roadway, people need to drive more slowly and carefully than they would under clear conditions, which include leaving more space between cars when traveling behind someone, because not doing so increases the likelihood of an accident. When there’s inclement weather, you’re held to a higher standard of care when operating your vehicle. If you fail to abide by that higher standard of care or don’t modify your behavior from what you’d exhibit on a sunny or clear day, then you can be found negligent for your actions in causing a motor vehicle collision.

Texting While Driving

Texting while driving is a common cause of car accidents in Virginia. After all, almost everyone has a cell phone, and they take their cell phones with them everywhere they go. And while driving, many drivers put their cell phones, tablets or other personal devices on the console, in their lap or on the dashboard. And more often than not, that personal device will send notifications that the person received a text message or an e-mail. And many people, being curious creatures, will try to see what the notification is while driving, stopped at a traffic light or stuck in traffic. Every time someone does that, he or she is taking attention away from the roadway.

If it can be proven that someone was distracted by looking at a phone when he or she should have been paying attention to the road, that can be used as evidence for a claim of negligence against that driver.

Driving Under the Influence in Prince William County

Drunk driving is not very common in Prince William County, but it does happen. And if someone is ticketed for drunk driving and causing an accident, then that person may be held liable for punitive damages.

Punitive damages are different than compensatory damages because they are meant to punish. Compensatory damages, on the other hand, are meant to restore you the way you were prior to the accident. Often, punitive damages are some multiple of compensatory damages. So, for instance, if the amount of your compensatory damages—intended to restore you to where you were before the accident—was $50,000 for your pain and suffering and your medical expenses, punitive damages may be two, three, or even ten times as high to punish your bad behavior. This is designed to discourage people from driving drunk because such actions could damage the entire community, not just the one person who happened to be injured in one particular accident.

Speeding in Prince William County Car Accidents

If there’s documentation that someone was speeding when he or she caused an accident, then that can be used as evidence of negligence. However, unless the speeding is wildly excessive—say, somewhere in the neighborhood 140 miles per hour—it wouldn’t be counted as grounds for punitive damages because punitive damages are usually reserved for situations of malice or evil intent. Most speeding would be simply be used as evidence of negligence and not as justification for punitive damages.