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Upholding your recovery rights in car vs. pedestrian accidents

Frequently when we see stories about traffic accidents, the focus is on the drivers and the passengers. Less frequently asked is the question of whether there were any pedestrians involved, but in a modern society in which people on foot must coexist with automobiles and trucks on a daily basis, the rights of the pedestrian can too easily forgotten. Some drivers can lose sight of the fact that it is not just other drivers they need to be looking out for, and the result can be that something as simple as crossing a street can become a life-altering injury event instead.

If a car driver wrongly contests your right-of-way as a pedestrian, it can be for a variety of reasons: he was on the phone, texting or talking; or was distracted by a passenger or something else happening in the car, like groping for that cigarette lighter that fell to the floor; or maybe even under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicant that reduced his ability to react properly to your presence in the crosswalk. Regardless of the reason why you are struck, the outcome is usually the same: you lose, at least in the short term. 

Can a violation of law be negligence in Connecticut?

Connecticut has many laws that govern traffic safety. These laws apply to behaviors ranging from driving at the proper speed, to avoiding drugs or alcohol, to the use of seatbelts and child restraints. So what is the effect, if any, when you get into an accident with another driver and that driver was in violation of a traffic safety law when the accident happened? 

As an individual citizen, you would not be in position to prosecute the other driver for breaking the law.  That is what prosecuting attorneys and criminal trials are for. But that does not necessarily mean that you cannot use the other driver’s violation of law in your favor in a civil case for money damages.

Truck driver hours of service regulations: an overview

The problem of truck driver fatigue is one that has caused deaths, injuries, and property damage for as long as commercial vehicles have existed. The problem serious enough in every state, including Connecticut, that the federal government has exercised its regulatory authority in an attempt to reduce the problem of accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers.

The point agency of the government's regulatory effort is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Its most recent work with regard to truck driver fatigue has been to establish rules governing the number of hours during which a commercial truck driver can operate his vehicle during an average week of work. 

Can a violation of law be negligence in Connecticut?

Connecticut has many laws that govern traffic safety. These laws apply to behaviors ranging from driving at the proper speed, to avoiding drugs or alcohol, to the use of seatbelts and child restraints. So what is the effect, if any, when you get into an accident with another driver and that driver was in violation of a traffic safety law when the accident happened?

As an individual citizen, you would not be in position to prosecute the other driver for breaking the law.  That is what prosecuting attorneys and criminal trials are for. But that does not necessarily mean that you cannot use the other driver’s violation of law in your favor in a civil case for money damages.

How truck accidents can lead to vicarious liability

Any accident that involves someone working for another at the time it occurred raises the possibility that the accident was job-related. This possibility in turn leads to the question of vicarious liability.

From a plaintiff's point of view in a truck accident case, the advantage of vicarious liability is that it allows the naming of multiple defendants. Often the truck driver will not have substantial resources from which to pay a judgment, but if the driver's employer and possibly others can be held at least partially responsible for the accident, then the prospect for financial recovery improves.

Vertical pavement edges on Connecticut roads pose safety risk

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, a vertical roadway edge contributes to drivers losing control of vehicles when they go onto the shoulder. The vertical edge can cause tire scrubbing that is linked to rollover or head-on crashes. Studies conducted by multiple states found that crashes involving these edge drop-offs increased the chances of a fatality by two to four times.

Over the years, road engineers developed angled edges that enabled drivers to stay in control more often. Initially, an edge with a 45-degree angle was tested in the 1980s, but problems with perfecting its construction persisted until the 1990s. At that time, a 30-degree angle on the edge was found to be easier to construct, and it still allowed drivers a better chance of recovering from swerves onto the shoulder instead of losing control.

Dangerous horizontal curves ahead

Residents in Connecticut may be interested in reading about some of the inherent hazards involved with driving, as described by the Federal Highway Administration. Researchers found that almost 30 percent of all traffic accidents involved horizontal curves on U.S. roadways. Researches also discovered that a crash was three times as more likely to occur on curved roadways than on the tangent sections of the roadway.

Horizontal curves may be described as changes in the level of alignment on the roadway that can increase demands on the pavement, the vehicle and the motorist behind the wheel. The challenges these sections of the road present are compounded when motorists are traveling under adverse conditions, such as driving at night or in inclement weather. According to the agency, horizontal curves should be the primary focal points of any safety upgrades added to the roadways. The agency also claims that states should have a process developed for identifying and rectifying horizontal curves that be potentially dangerous.

Fatal Connecticut multi-vehicle crash shuts down Route 15

Route 15 was temporarily closed following a deadly four-vehicle accident on the Trumbull/Stratford line on April 26. The early morning crash claimed the life of one motorist and injured two others including a worker with the Connecticut Department of Transportation who was assisting at the scene.

According to the report, the wreck took place shortly before 2 a.m. on the Merritt Parkway when a 26-year-old man driving a Subaru rear-ended a Honda. In the impact, both vehicles lost control. The Subaru came to a rest in the midsection of the highway while the Honda ended up on the roadway's shoulder.

Common causes of motor vehicle accidents

Connecticut drivers may want to learn more about a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that in 2012, over 2.5 million Americans went to the emergency room due to motor vehicle accidents. Based in part upon statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the study revealed that more than 33,000 people died that same year in motor vehicle collisions. The CDC found that people over the age of 80, young adults and teenagers were most likely to be in accidents.

Some of the most commons reasons for crashes include speeding and distracted or reckless driving. In addition, driver fatigue is a particular problem. A 2013 study found that driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Blood alcohol concentration levels and their effects

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a listing of the effects of different blood alcohol concentration levels on driving skills. Based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Medical Association and other organizations focused on curbing drunk driving, the listing shows effects ranging from the level of .02 percent all the way to .15 percent. In Connecticut, as in all 50 states, the legal BAC limit for driving is .08 percent.

The CDC's listing shows that even the relatively low BAC of .02 percent, which is the equivalent of about two beers, involves some impairment in driving skills. There is some loss of judgment and a slight decline in visual tracking ability and in the ability to perform two tasks at once. At .05 percent, which involves drinking one more beer, drivers have reduced coordination, difficulty steering and a lowered response to emergency situations.

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