HOW MUCH IS YOUR SPEEDING-RELATED ACCIDENT WORTH?
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California Speeding-Related Accident Attorneys
In fatal car crashes, speed is often a major contributing factor. Speed increases the severity of injuries that are sustained in any car accident. Thus, even if you survive your injuries, they will be more severe if excessive speed was involved in the collision. The experienced car accident lawyers at Arash Law can help you protect your rights after being injured in a car accident due to speeding.
Learn more about why speeding is so dangerous, the consequences drivers face for speeding, and how a car accident lawyer can help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for auto accident injuries.
Why is Speeding So Deadly?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly ten thousand victims were killed across the United States in 2018 in auto accidents caused by speeding. In 2017, speeding was a factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities. This statistic means that more than one out of every four car accident victims was killed because of speeding. But why is speeding so deadly? The answer is simple physics.
The higher a vehicle’s speed, the more force it will generate when it collides with another object. Forces generated in a collision must have somewhere to go. Passenger vehicles are designed to absorb as much energy as possible, but no system can entirely divert all forces away from passengers. The higher the collision force, the more serious a victim’s injuries are likely to be.
The Hidden Costs of Speeding
You might think that the cost of speeding is simply a ticket to be paid. But speeding causes many different types of financial losses. Insurance companies must pay for property damage. This damage refers to body damage to the vehicles involved in the crash and damage to the road or highway infrastructure (such as signs or guardrails).
Even in a minor collision, property damage claims can cost thousands of dollars. Insurance companies must also compensate injury victims for all their other financial losses. These losses include medical bills, lost wages, and future projected costs for these losses that the victim will suffer in the future. The victim must also be compensated for intangible pain and suffering.
These claims quickly run into thousands of dollars for even minor cases. Serious, permanent injuries can quickly accrue settlements in the six or seven figures. So what is the real cost of speeding? NHTSA estimates that $40.1 billion in economic losses was caused by speeding-related accidents in 2000.
This number works out to $76,865 per minute or $1281 per second. The cost of speeding is genuine – and very large.
The Consequences of Speeding
Many drivers give in to the temptation to speed. Maybe traffic is heavy, or they have places to be, or they are running late. There are many excuses, But what these drivers don’t think about are the many legal consequences of driving faster than is safe for the road conditions surrounding you:
Speeders can be charged with crimes. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, but it is still a crime. If a speeding driver kills a victim through their negligence, that driver can be charged with homicide. Manslaughter charges are often filed against drivers who kill a victim through their inattention or poor choices.
Often this is used for drivers who were impaired at the time of the accident, but speeding drivers can also be charged with homicide. A criminal conviction for vehicular homicide can result in a prison sentence, loss of civil rights (such as voting and gun ownership), fines and court fees, and the knowledge that you caused another person’s death through your own poor choices.
Drivers who speed can also face administrative sanctions against their driver’s license. You might have points assessed. Your license could be suspended or revoked entirely. You might have to appear at an administrative hearing at the DMV and plead your case to a driver safety hearing officer.
If this officer rules against you, you might have to appeal your case to a local or appellate court. All of this takes time and money. It can also prevent you from driving lawfully.
Any time a negligent driver causes another person to be injured, the victim has the right to sue the driver in a civil court. The victim is entitled to compensation for all the losses that the driver caused through his or her negligence. This amount includes compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other losses that can be easily valued with receipts. It also includes compensation for the victim’s intangible losses.
These are collectively referred to as “pain and suffering.” This includes compensation for the victim’s physical pain, as well as intangible emotional suffering. Perhaps the victim had to miss an important graduation or wedding because of her injuries. Or maybe the victim had to give up a beloved hobby, such as playing in a local basketball league. These are genuine losses.
Injury victims are entitled to compensation for them, but it can be challenging to place a dollar amount on these types of losses. What amount of money would make up for being unable to cross the stage at your own graduation? How much compensation would it take to erase the pain of being unable to hold your own children? These losses can be difficult to value.
They are also some of the most valuable losses a victim will suffer: pain and suffering is often the largest component of a personal injury award. This fact is why it is so important for injury victims to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer who knows how to prove the fair value of these losses.
What is a “Speed Greater Than is Reasonable Or Prudent”?
Section 22350 of the California Vehicle Code prevents drivers from traveling “at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent.” It is important to note that drivers can be cited for traveling at the posted speed limit if there are conditions that make it unsafe to go that fast. What conditions could affect a “reasonable and prudent speed”? The statute specifically identifies weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the roadway’s surface and width as factors that affect the speed it is safe to travel.
The statute also prohibits any speed which endangers the safety of persons or property. So who gets to decide whether your speed was reasonable and prudent? If an officer pulls you over, it is within his or her discretion whether to issue a citation. If a driver causes an accident, his insurance company may agree that his speed was not reasonable and accept liability for the accident.
If the insurance companies cannot agree on liability, the injury victim might have to take her case to a jury and let them decide whether the driver was at fault. A jury will be made up of people from the community, most of whom drive on the same road on which the accident occurred. They will consider what they would have done behind the wheel in the same situation. If you are behind the wheel, wondering whether it is safe to drive the speed limit, imagine yourself describing the situation to a jury.
Would you be able to make a convincing case that it was, in fact, reasonable and prudent to travel as fast as you did? Are there facts that would go against you – for example, if it were dark or foggy, making it more difficult to see? There is no single answer that is accepted in all situations. But imagining yourself describing the circumstances can help you gauge whether your actions will be considered reasonable to others.
Places Where You Must Slow Down
There are many places where you must slow down in order to keep your speed reasonable and prudent. Some of these places will have posted signage and specific markers to indicate a reduced speed limit. Others may not – especially in rural areas with less highway infrastructure. Whether it is marked or not, drivers still have an obligation to reduce their speed in these dangerous areas:
- In school zones
- Near parks, daycare facilities, and other places where children are likely to be
- Around hospitals, police stations, fire stations, and other facilities that house emergency vehicles
- Around animal crossings
- At train crossings
- In and around construction zones
- On winding mountain roads
- On sand, rocks, and other difficult terrains
- In stop-and-go traffic (or slow-and-go traffic)
- Around accident scenes
- In residential neighborhoods
- On an entrance or exit ramp to a highway
The Car You Are Driving Can Make a Difference in What Speed is Reasonable and Prudent
Just because you feel safe driving at a particular speed in your car does not mean it is safe to travel at that speed in every vehicle. Different cars have different stopping times, and drivers must be prepared to stop in time to avoid collisions, regardless of what type of vehicle they are driving. For this reason, drivers must be cautious when driving in a rental car or a car borrowed from a friend or family member. Your speed can also affect different vehicles in other ways.
For example, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have a high center of gravity. This condition means that they are more likely to tip over than smaller sedans – especially if the driver takes a corner too fast. Because of this, a “reasonable and prudent speed” in a sedan might not be reasonable in an SUV. Drivers have a legal obligation to account for these differences when they are determining the speed that is safe at any given time.
The Types of Injuries Speeding Drivers Can Cause
There are many injuries a person can sustain in a car accident. As discussed, these injuries tend to be more severe in accidents that occur at high speeds. Serious injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and permanent brain damage (these can require a lifetime of rehabilitation and in-home medical care
- Back injuries to the vertebrae, spinal cord, or muscles in the back (these often require surgery and excruciating recovery periods)
- Internal bleeding (which you might not notice right away, or even until it is too late. For this reason, it is crucial to see a doctor right away after any car accident.)
- Nerve damage
- Damage to the extremities requiring a limb amputation
- Broken bones (from closed fractures to compound, open fractures that require surgery)
- Cardiac arrest and arrhythmias (often leading to chronic heart conditions)
- Damage to the lungs (often resulting in chronic respiratory problems)
- Damage to internal organs (kidneys, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, etc.)
- Neck injuries (from severe paralysis to minor whiplash)
- Lacerations (cuts), contusions (bruises), and “road rash”
- Soft tissue injuries to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other non-bony tissues (often resulting in sprain or strain)
- Post-traumatic stress order and other emotional injuries (many injury victims have difficulty getting in a car again after a severe auto accident)
Experienced, Aggressive Auto Accident Lawyers For California Speeding Accidents
When speed is a factor in an auto accident, injuries are more likely to be serious. This fact means that it will take more money to compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses. You have the legal right to be fully and fairly compensated for all the losses you suffer. It is vital to hire an injury attorney who knows how to get you the compensation you deserve.
The experienced auto accident lawyers at Arash Law have decades of experience. We have collected over 200 million dollars for clients across the state. We serve clients in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and California. Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
We fight hard to protect your legal rights so that you can focus on making the best recovery possible from your injuries. The sooner you have an experienced car crash attorney fighting on your side, the better protected your legal rights will be.