Every vehicle has blind spots. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 840,000 blind-spot car accidents occur each year in the United States, resulting in over 300 fatalities. Fortunately, many modern vehicles are equipped with a blind-spot monitoring (BSM) system, which issues a warning if a vehicle is approaching in an adjoining lane. However, despite this technology being widely available, blind-spot accidents continue to occur.
Liability for the accident will depend on whether the other driver involved was negligent in some way. This will likely involve an investigation and a thorough review of the evidence to determine whether negligence was a factor. If it can be proven that the other driver was clearly at fault, you may pursue a personal injury lawsuit. A skilled car accident lawyer will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Where Are Blind Spots Located?
Blind spots are the areas around your car that you cannot see. For the average passenger vehicle, blind spots are located behind the rear taillights on the driver’s side and the passenger side. Larger commercial trucks have four blind spots, including the left side under the cab mirror, the right side under the cab mirror and extending out, directly in front of the truck cab and at least 30 feet behind the trailer.
It is the responsibility of the driver to pay attention to other vehicles in the vicinity. However, other motorists are also responsible for taking the necessary precautions to avoid other vehicles’ blind spots, particularly when driving near large trucks.
Vehicles that are equipped with BSM are very effective at detecting cars or objects in your car’s blind spot and alerting you so that you do not change lanes. However, this technology is not completely fool-proof. To maximize the technology’s effectiveness, make sure that the cameras and sensors are clean and that the active driver aids are set up properly. It is also a good idea to have a general understanding of the system’s limitations. For example, some BSM systems do not recognize pedestrians or cyclists.
What Are Common Causes of Blind-Spot Accidents?
Some of the most common causes of blind-spot accidents include:
- Unsafe merging: Oftentimes, blind-spot accidents occur when a motorist merges onto a highway when traveling at a high speed. This is particularly dangerous during rush hour when roadways are congested. Motorists do not always check their blind spots when merging into traffic or when changing lanes. When a commercial truck or a tractor-trailer is involved in a blind-spot accident, this can cause devastating property damage and catastrophic injuries.
- Unsafe reversing: Blind-spot accidents can also occur when motorists fail to check the rear-view and side-view mirrors before reversing. This can happen when backing out of a driveway, parking lot, or alley. In addition to making sure that there are no cars approaching as you are backing up, you must check your blind spots for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly if you are in an area where children might be walking. If a young child is in the vicinity and you fail to check your blind spots before backing out of your driveway, it can have devastating consequences.
- Unsafe lane changing: This is one of the most common causes of blind-spot accidents. Oftentimes, motorists who are driving on a highway only check their rear-view mirror, or they quickly glance at their sideview mirrors before changing lanes. Unfortunately, if you do not check both mirrors or fail to check your blind spots again before changing lanes, you may not see another vehicle that is traveling at a high speed. This can result in a very serious accident. According to the NHTSA, close to 20 percent of all car accidents are caused by unsafe lane changes.
What Can I Do to Avoid a Blind-Spot Accident?
Every time you get behind the wheel of a car, you are responsible for checking your rear-view and side-view mirrors, adjusting them if necessary, and you must regularly check your blind spots. You are also responsible for understanding that larger vehicles, particularly commercial trucks, have large blind spots. There are additional proactive steps you can take as well. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) encourages all motorists to keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Stay out of large trucks’ blind spots.
- Use caution when passing other vehicles, particularly large trucks.
- Maintain a safe following distance.
- Keep your attention focused on the road at all times.
- Be aware that large trucks make wide turns.
- Always wear a seat belt, including backseat passengers.
- Be patient and avoid tailgating or cutting off other drivers.
- Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Avoid drowsy driving.
What Should I Do if I am in a Blind-Spot Accident?
Blind-spot accidents often happen unexpectedly. This can be extremely stressful, but if you know the steps to take immediately following the accident, it can make the situation far less overwhelming. If you are involved in a blind-spot car accident, keep the following steps in mind:
- Call 911 as soon as possible. This is extremely important because dispatch will send police to the accident scene. If there are any injuries involved, let the operator know so they can also send an ambulance to the scene. The police officer will ask you and the other motorist questions about the accident and write a police report. This may include information about who is at fault, so make sure to ask for a copy of the police report.
- Exchange information. Take a picture of the other motorist’s license plate, and ask for their driver’s license number and insurance information and provide your information as well.
- Take pictures. If you are physically able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to your vehicle, debris or skid marks on the road, your injuries, and any other pictures that may provide valuable physical evidence.
- Get immediate medical attention. Anytime you are involved in a car accident, you should be examined by a skilled medical professional, even if the collision was relatively minor. Oftentimes, injuries do not appear until hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. However, a health care provider will be able to identify an injury that may not be immediately symptomatic. In addition, from an insurance perspective, if you decide not to seek medical attention after the accident, the insurance company may argue that your injury must not be very serious if you did not find it necessary to go to a doctor.
- Contact an experienced car accident lawyer. Having a skilled car accident lawyer on your side will ensure that your legal rights are protected. Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and help you collect key evidence
Possible Damages for a Blind-Spot Car Accident
If you are able to prove that the other motorist involved in the accident was responsible for the accident, you may be eligible for the following damages:
- All medical expenses related to the accident, including hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, and prescription medications.
- Damage to your vehicle.
- Lost wages, as well as loss of future earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Any other expenses related to the accident.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Represent Clients Injured in Blind-Spot Collisions
If you were seriously injured in a blind-spot car accident, do not hesitate to contact a Virginia Beach car accident lawyer at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC. We will address all of your questions and concerns. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.