As the county seat and the largest city in the Imperial Valley, El Centro has its share of traffic. In addition to local drivers and the Imperial Valley Transit buses running through town, we have motorists zipping through on Interstate 8, which runs from San Diego to Interstate 10 in Arizona, and State Routes 86 and 111, which take travelers north to the Salton Sea and Coachella Valley and south toward Mexicali.
With all of that traffic, accidents are bound to happen—especially when so many drivers fail to pay attention to the road. If you were injured in a car accident in El Centro, you can pursue compensation for your medical expenses and the impact that your injury has had on your life through a personal injury lawsuit.
Call the El Centro personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys now, or read on for more information about car accidents, the legal options available in your situation, and how we want to help you recover compensation.
The Causes of Car Accidents
A car accident in El Centro resulted in the death of an 82-year-old Holtville woman and caused a man from Brawley to suffer a broken leg. The fatal accident occurred as a woman was driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Highway 111 near Evan Hewes Highway. Before the accident occurred, emergency dispatchers received numerous calls reporting the driver who was dangerously driving on the wrong way of the highway. Ultimately, the woman’s vehicle collided head on with a pickup and both drivers were transported to a nearby hospital. The woman, who was fondly remembered as devoted to her family and active in her church, died a short time later.
Car accidents in El Centro result in deaths or injury of more than 100 people each year, including other motorists and their occupants, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
The main cause of most car accidents is human error, which is a broad term that describes activities that people do while they’re driving that reduce the safety of the driver, his or her occupants, the occupants of other vehicles, and other people on the roadway.
Some common examples of human error that result in car accidents include:
Speeding: Driving faster than the posted limit or too fast for the conditions of the road is a major contributor to car accidents. This is because people struggle to maintain control of the vehicle at higher speeds and may not stop in time to avoid colliding with another vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or other obstacle. Speeding reduces the amount of time that a driver has to perceive a roadway hazard and react to it, while simultaneously increasing the amount of space that a vehicle needs to come to a safe stop after the brakes have been depressed.
Distracted driving: Distracted driving is another major source of car accidents, resulting in more than 2,500 deaths in the U.S. each year. There are generally three categories of distractions: Manual distractions cause the driver to take his or her hands from the wheel; visual distractions cause the driver to take his or her eyes from the road; and cognitive distractions draw the driver’s mind from the task of driving safely. Texting is a particularly dangerous distraction as it falls in all three categories. In the time it takes an individual to read or reply to a text while driving at highway speeds, a person would have traveled the length of a football field without both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and mind on driving. Other distractions include miscellaneous cell phone use, adjusting stereo or vehicle controls, visiting with other occupants in the car, eating or drinking, applying makeup, and external distractions such as work zones, billboards, previous accidents, and other people and cars.
Alcohol impairment: While the legal limit for driving after having consumed alcohol is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, the effects of alcohol impairment on driving actually begin with the first drink. Alcohol impairment results in the deaths of more than 10,000 people annually in the United States, as it produces dangerous deficits in many of the skills needed for driving, including the ability to multitask, to pay attention, to maintain speed and lane position, to track moving targets, and to make sound decisions.
Unfamiliarity with the roadway: People, when becoming lost on an unfamiliar road, often make hazardous errors, such as darting across traffic lanes to avoid missing a freeway exit, or completing U-turns where prohibited. Unfamiliarity with the roadway is also a main source of head-on collisions as the driver accidentally navigates his or her vehicle the wrong way onto a roadway that is designated for only one direction of travel.
Fatigued driving: Drowsy driving can affect any person who has not gotten enough rest before getting behind the wheel. However, those at most risk of driving drowsy are night shift workers and long-haul truck drivers. This is because these two groups of people are often either driving during the nighttime hours when visibility is dramatically reduced or because they have been awake during the period of time in which the body is biologically wired for sleep. When a driver has gone for more than 20 hours without sleep, the impacts to his or her ability to drive safely are similar to that of a person with a .08 percent blood alcohol content—the legal impairment limit.
Aggressive driving/road rage: Aggressive driving is a series of traffic infractions, including tailgating, speeding, improper lane changes, and improper turns that a driver commits, often during traffic congestion in an attempt to get through the congestion more quickly. Road rage often consists of these same behaviors, but is committed for the sake of “punishing” another driver. Road rage also can include behaviors such as honking, rude gestures, yelling, exiting the vehicle to physically confront another driver, or attempting to bump or ram a vehicle off of the roadway.
Failure to yield: Stop signs and red lights are an indication that a driver needs to stop and yield the right-of-way to other roadway users. Failing to do so is a major cause of intersection accidents, such as broadside collisions—also known as T-bone collisions. It is also a common source of pedestrian accidents that occur in a crosswalk as the motorist fails to yield the right-of-way to someone traveling on foot.
Poor maintenance or defective auto parts: Poorly maintained vehicles pose a serious hazard to other motorists. Tire blowouts often result in loss of vehicle control and bad brakes can result in the inability to stop the vehicle. Regularly maintained vehicles that contain defective auto parts are also hazardous. Manufacturers and distributors of defective parts can face liability for injuries and even El Centro wrongful deaths caused due to the part’s malfunction.
Types of Car Accidents
With all of the different activities and behaviors that can cause car accidents, there are several types of accidents that occur as a result.
Some of the most common types of car accidents for drivers in El Centro and beyond include:
Head-on collisions: This type of accident occurs when the front of one vehicle collides with the front of another vehicle. Head-on crashes are often caused by wrong-way driving, and can also be caused by the force of an initial accident pushing a vehicle into oncoming traffic lanes.
Rear-end collisions: One of the most common types of two-car collision to have, rear-end accidents occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the rear of another vehicle. Following too closely—also known as tailgating—is a frequent cause of this type of crash, as the driver of the following vehicle does not have enough space to come to a safe stop if the driver of the lead vehicle brakes suddenly.
Broadside collisions: One of the most common ways for intersection accidents to occur, a broadside accident—also known as a T-bone or side impact crash—occurs when the front of one vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle. As vehicles have very little protection in the door areas, this type of crash often results in injuries to occupants sitting on the side of the vehicle that was struck. These injuries can be very serious, particularly if there is a size discrepancy, such as a commercial truck striking the broadside of a small passenger car.
Sideswipe accidents: Improper lane changes and drivers who drift out of their lane of travel due to impairment or fatigue are frequent contributors to this type of accident, which occurs when the side of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle.
Rollovers: Rollover accidents involve the vehicle overturning onto its side, roof, or even making a complete roll. Rollovers are common in single car accidents in which the vehicle has left the roadway, but can also occur in vehicles with a high center of gravity—such as commercial trucks, pickups, and SUVs—attempt to take a corner or curve too fast or when they are loaded improperly, with the top of the vehicle heavier than the lower part.
Single car accidents: This type of accident involves only one motorized vehicle, and includes pedestrian and bicycle accidents. Single car accidents can involve a vehicle running off the road, or can be caused by the vehicle colliding with something on the roadway.
Chain reaction crashes and pileups: A chain reaction crash involves three or more vehicles. Generally, these accidents begin with two vehicles colliding. The force of the accident may cause one of the vehicles to strike a third vehicle, or a third vehicle may come upon the scene of the initial accident and can’t stop before colliding with the wreckage. When many vehicles are involved in the accident, it is often referred to as a pileup.
Injuries Sustained in El Centro Car Accidents
El Centro Brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, two of the most serious and life-altering injuries one can suffer, are commonly caused by motor vehicle accidents. Each of these injury types typically result in permanent disability and a lifetime of costly complications.
However, other serious injuries one can receive in a car accident may include:
Internal damage: In the violence of the car accident, a person’s internal organs may become crushed or damaged either by the vehicle itself, or the impact of the person’s body against other objects. Internal organs can also become lacerated or punctured by the presence of broken ribs. Internal damage often is not detectable until the person receives medical treatment and can result in life-threatening implications, including internal bleeding.
Broken bones: Nearly any bone in the body can be broken in a car accident due to the force of the collision or the crushing weight of the vehicle on body parts that have become trapped. While most broken bones will heal within weeks or months, many individuals lose range of motion in an affected limb and face a risk of infection in fractures that have penetrated the skin. Severely damaged limbs may require amputation to remove the source of infection or when it becomes apparent to medical professionals that the limb is so severely damaged that it will impede the individual’s recovery.
Car Accident Lawsuits
Injuries from car accidents are expensive. Between the cost of medical treatment, the loss of wages due to being too injured to work or forced to miss work to attend injury-related appointments, the cost of repairing or replacing one’s vehicle, the loss of future earning capacity as the result of permanent disability, and the many impacts that the injury can have on an individual’s life, the financial aspect of an accident is particularly stressful.
Accident victims in El Centro have the opportunity to pursue compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. The source of this compensation is usually the insurance coverage of the liable party.
How do you show that someone else was liable for the accident that caused your injury? By proving the following elements:
The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty depends on the facts of your case. However, in car accident cases, drivers generally owe each other the care to drive safely and lawfully.
There was a breach in this duty of care. The breach is the human error that resulted in the accident, such as fatigued driving, or alcohol impairment.
This breach caused the accident and resultant injuries and damages.
The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled before the matter ever appears inside a courtroom. However, some cases do proceed to trial. The El Centro car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys feel comfortable both with the notion of negotiating a settlement on your behalf as well as litigating your case in court if a fair settlement is not forthcoming.