Speeding is one of the most common causes of car accidents throughout the United States. However, many drivers often do not realize the danger of accidents when one or more drivers operate their vehicles at a low speed. Drivers should be aware of this danger and how to address the physical, financial, and legal issues that arise when one is involved in a low-speed automobile accident. The Tulsa car accident lawyer at Graves McLain have the resources necessary to handle every aspect of low-speed accident claims and are ready to help crash victims recover compensation for their injuries.
Although there is no official definition of a low-speed accident, automotive safety experts and attorneys generally accept an accident occurring at “low speed” to be 10-20 miles per hour (mph) or less. Further, any accident that occurs at speeds significantly less than the speed limit of the road drivers are driving may also be considered a “low-speed accident.”
Based on years of client representation, our attorneys have found that low-speed car accidents most frequently occur when a driver or driver enters or exits an intersection—usually one car rear-ending another. In these instances, the car in front fails to drive forward while the car behind speeds up or uses its breaks too quickly, causing the car in the back to fail to stop in time. In addition, a car may neglect to stop or yield at traffic or stop lights altogether.
Low-speed accidents can also occur when a car is attempting to merge into traffic on a busy street or highway. The merging car may have stopped on the curb or shoulder for a specific reason when this occurs. When the car attempts to remerge into traffic, the car is going too slow or does not have its turn signal on, while a car traveling around the speed limit cannot stop in time and collides with the merging car.
Although low-speed automobile incidents have a lower chance of causing death or severe injury, many motorists involved in a low-speed accident may still walk away with noticeable and life-altering ailments. Common low-speed injuries include:
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries caused by low-speed traffic accidents. Most cases of whiplash tend to be resolved within a few weeks of the accident, but some cases can have underlying effects well after an accident has occurred.
According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a “neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” Although rest and a little physical exercise will allow a person to heal from whiplash, some cases may persist months or years after the accident, causing mild or severe chronic neck pain. Common symptoms of whiplash include:
Other ailments or conditions may exacerbate or prolong the effects of whiplash on the body. Such conditions may include:
Based on several medical and other scientific studies, low-speed car accidents (most often rear-end collisions) have a higher chance of causing whiplash than higher speed accidents. This is because modern car manufacturers try to provide vehicle occupants with the highest level of safety from high-impact collisions that may damage a car’s structure, which causes cars to be more rigid.
The exterior design of modern cars ensures that high-impact collisions are less likely to destroy the car’s frame causing massive damage to the occupants. However, even when a car’s design can hinder the force caused by a collision, the rigid structure will not prevent an occupant’s neck from being affected by smaller forces of energy that have little impact on the car itself. Thus, impacts caused by cars traveling at low speeds have a lower chance of causing property damage or massive injury to an occupant but have a higher likelihood of causing whiplash injury to an occupant’s head, neck, and shoulders.
Unfortunately, there are not many drivers who can prevent low-speed traffic collisions. Nonetheless, drivers should be mindful when approaching intersections by gradually slowing down instead of abruptly stopping. Furthermore, drivers can maintain a 1-2 car distance when driving behind a vehicle to provide the car in front ample time to make a stop without making contact with the other vehicle. Finally, vehicles merging onto streets or highways with a higher should wait until they have enough time to speed up before another car approaches or gradually increase speed on the shoulder before merging.
Oklahoma is a modified at-fault state, which means triers of fact (judges and juries) will assign fault to one or more parties involved in a traffic accident.
Under a modified at-fault system, the trier of fact will assign fault on a percentage basis. If a party is liable for more than 50% of the damage caused in an accident, that party will not be able to collect funds from the other driver and pay their percentage of liability.
When a driver is less than 50% at fault, they will be entitled to compensation for damage minus their level of fault. Thus, if a driver is only 20% at fault for the accident, they will be able to recover 80% of damages owed to them by the other involved parties.
Low-speed traffic accidents can be complicated to predict or prevent because they often occur when a car is being rear-ended by the car directly behind them. When this happens, drivers should understand the steps they should take to have their injuries addressed and prevent excessive or unwarranted legal scrutiny.
Once a car accident has occurred, regardless of the severity, the vehicle’s driver should immediately stop and check for injuries, which includes checking on any occupants. Even if the collision seemed mild, injuries might manifest well after the accident.
Insurance companies often fight not to pay out medical claims after a low-speed injury because the driver and occupant(s) left the scene without seeking medical treatment. However, by contacting emergency services, parties involved in a car accident can meet immediate medical needs and create evidence that they experienced a medical issue after the accident.
Police should almost always be called after an accident. Allowing the police to investigate the accident and generate a police report creates a paper trail that can be used as evidence to show that both drivers were actually in a car accident.
Drivers tend to get themselves in a lot of trouble when talking with the other driver involved in the accident because they are either too defensive of their actions or admit fault without understanding all of the facts. Once a driver has experienced a car accident, they should attempt to trade contact and insurance information with the other driver.
During this interaction, drivers will most likely want to discuss the accident and assign blame. Here, drivers should say as little as possible and wait until emergency services and the police arrive to treat injuries and take statements. Then, drivers may talk about the accident, but they should keep any declarative comments about the accident to a minimum.
Drivers should always try to take pictures of any property damage or injuries after an accident. Pictures provide the most accurate depiction of damage caused by an accident and can be used as evidence to show why an insurer should pay a claim.
Drivers involved in a car accident should contact their insurance company as soon as possible. Although filing a claim may take an hour or less, depending on the nature of the accident, the vehicle involved, and the insurance provider, addressing property damage may take weeks to months. Furthermore, insurance companies will find ways not to provide funds for damage or injuries, requiring filing an internal appeal or contacting an attorney. During this time, a driver may not be able to safely operate their vehicle or suffer from a medical condition caused by an accident.
Many drivers may be hesitant to contact an attorney, but doing so could save a driver time and resources. In addition, insurance companies rely on their policyholders not having sophisticated legal knowledge to assert arguments as to why their claims are valid. Having an attorney allows a policyholder to have a legal expert investigate the facts of an accident, gather evidence for legal claims, and ensure insurance companies are not taking advantage of their policyholders.
By contacting a Graves McClain Oklahoma low-speed accident attorney, motorists can receive quality legal representation to address their circumstances after an accident. In addition, our attorneys have experience providing legal representation to drivers that have been denied by their insurance company or are facing legal action from other drivers. For a free consultation, visit our website or call us today at 919-359-6600.
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