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New Car Technology Steps in When Drivers Fail to Act, Keeping Everyone Safer

The idea of fully-automated self-driving cars is a little scary to most people. It’s hard to imagine that a car would be able to make the hundreds of Auto Brake Technology in New Carsdecisions human drivers make as they maneuver their cars to their destinations. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 94 percent of the over 35,000 fatal accidents in 2015 were caused at least in part by a mistake made by the human driver. Current automated technology is already proving to save lives. Learn more about these safety features and how full automation is coming soon, whether we want it or not.

Automated Safety Technology

These days, many cars have automatic safety features that help us so seamlessly, we aren’t even aware it’s there. One example of an early safety feature is anti-lock braking systems (ABS), which were first introduced in the 1970’s and are now standard on all vehicles. This technology prevents wheels from locking up and going into an uncontrolled skid when the driver slams on the brakes. As one of the first examples of car technology that corrects mistakes made by the driver, ABS technology has prevented countless crashes. Newer technology that assists drivers in avoiding accidents include the following:

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC). When a driver turns sharply to avoid a crash or because he did not anticipate a curve in the road, the vehicle can lose traction and the driver can lose control of the car. ESC keeps the vehicle headed in the driver’s intended direction, despite the extreme steering maneuver. This prevents a car from spinning out (changing direction too quickly) or plowing out (changing direction too slowly). ESC has been standard on all new cars since 2011.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). These systems, which have been available as an option on many cars since 2006, typically warn the driver when impact is imminent and then apply the brakes automatically if the driver fails to do so. NHTSA reports that 30 percent of all police-reported crashes are rear-end collisions that could have been prevented by AEB technology. One key cause of drivers failing to brake in time to avoid a collision is distraction—such as cell phone use—behind the wheel.
  • Lane Keeping Support (LKS). Driver distraction and fatigue can also lead to drivers drifting out of their lanes and into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision, or side-swiping a car in the next lane. Depending on the technology, the system may simply warn the driver that he is drifting or may actually correct the action to keep the car in its lane. This technology can also prevent deadly rollover accidents which can happen when a car suddenly veers off the road.

These technologies are currently available and have shown to prevent accidents, although it’s impossible to determine just how many close calls have been avoided because of these automated safety features. The next step—a fully automated vehicle—is not far off.

The Path to Self-Driving Cars

Various manufacturers are currently working on self-driving technology. Cars with automated driver assistance have already made their debut on our roads. In an effort to support the development in a way that protects the safety and privacy of drivers, the Department of Transportation announced its strategy for working with NHTSA to oversee the development and release of driverless cars, which includes the following steps:

  1. A 10-year, $3.9 billion investment in automated safety technologies.
  2. Regulatory interpretations and exemptions to enable safety innovation.
  3. Operational guidance for the safe deployment of automated vehicles.
  4. Working with partners to develop model State policy on automated safety technologies.
  5. A plan for what new tools and authorities the agency might need to fulfill their safety mission in this new era.

According to manufacturers, we will begin to see driverless cars on the road by 2020.

Keller & Keller Supports Automotive Safety in Indiana

While the car accident attorneys at Keller & Keller encourage all drivers to drive safely and to embrace technology that makes motor vehicle travel safer, we also understand that driverless technologies present new questions of liability when accidents do occur. We will be keeping an eye on these new safety features and encourage you to call us with any questions about crashes that occurred despite or because of automated safety systems. We have offices in Indianapolis and Granger to serve clients all over the state of Indiana.

 

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How Much Is My Car Accident Injury Claim Worth?

Before we look at the factors that determine the value of your car accident claim, know this: NO ONE can initially tell you what your car accident claim is worth; not until you tell your version of the story, liability is nailed down, your medical treatment is finished, and an experienced personal injury law firm has reviewed your case.

And it's ok not to have an immediate dollar amount thrown at you. After all, if your accident had a "price tag," then there would be no opportunity for you to present your particular case, meaning you'd potentially risk shorting yourself thousands of dollars, or the entire claim!

(Having settled thousands of personal injury cases, we are certain of one fact: No two clients are alike, no two car accidents are alike, no matter how similar they seem.)

Our firm's #1 goal is likely similar to your own at the moment: recover the maximum amount of compensation for the accident. The way to ensure you receive a fair settlement is to present a professional and persuasive case that is supported by medical documentation and measurable course(s) of treatment, e.g., physical therapy.

WHAT FACTORS CAN INCREASE MY CASE VALUE?

You're likely worried about hospital bills, property damage, lost wages, and a possible change in lifestyle, so a quick settlement may seem attractive. However, as time passes, most clients are thankful they took the time to consult with someone who could advise them of future factors that could potentially increase their case value.

Scenarios that can increase the value of a car accident case might include:

  • The client's injuries worsened over time, leading to unforeseen treatments and costly procedures.
  • The client didn't predict the type and/or duration of treatment their injuries required.
  • The client didn't anticipate the strain the accident would place on their personal life.
  • The client didn't account for the long-term psychological effects.

These points are common after-effects accident victims are unable to predict immediately following their accident, and the insurance company is going to try and settle with you before any of these scenarios occur.

Ultimately, your damages are likely to have additional value if presented to an insurance company by way of experienced legal representation. Having an attorney allows you to take the time you need to ultimately see the full picture of your claim, and remember, once you sign a release of all claims, you're essentially telling the insurance company they're "off the hook."

ARE SIMILAR ACCIDENT TYPES WORTH THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY?

Each person is unique, each accident is unique, every case has unique value, and there are no exceptions to this rule. Let's look at an example:

  • Driver A is a young pregnant female with no pre-existing medical conditions. She has been involved in a rear-end car accident collision. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital for examination of back and neck pain. The doctors diagnose her with whiplash and prescribe her a course of treatment that is consistent with the needs of her pregnancy. She completes treatment and is released soon after.
  • Driver B is a middle-aged male with prior back surgery. He has also been involved in a rear-end style car accident collision and is experiencing neck and back pain. He was not able to visit a doctor until two weeks after the crash due to fear of missing work and losing his job. When he is able to visit the doctor, he is diagnosed with whiplash and is prescribed a course of physical therapy. He is released soon after.

Let's also assume that Driver A and Driver B were rear-ended at the same spot on the same highway on the same day. Additionally, the vehicles that struck A & B were traveling at the same speed at the time of impact. Weather conditions were the same for both accidents, and both A & B and the adverse drivers have the same insurance companies, etc.

What does all this mean?

Despite everything we know about driver's A & B accident details, their claims will have different values!

Even with all the listed similarities, it's very unlikely that driver A & B will undergo the similar medical treatment for their injuries; respond to treatment in the same manner; or experience the same types of aggravation and frustration in the days and months after their accident.

IS IT TRUE THAT I'LL GET THREE TIMES THE MEDICAL BILLS FOR MY ACCIDENT CLAIM?

This "formula" is an estimate that has often been thought of by many as a way to value car accident claims. And though it is true that you may receive three times your medical bills, it's also just as likely that you'll receive more or less.

In short, never assume the value of your car accident claim is simply "3 x's your medical bills."

WHAT THINGS CAN I RECOVER FOR IN MY CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?

There are typically 3 components we look to recover for in a personal injury case that arises from a car accident:

  1. Past and future medical bills
  2. Past and future lost wages, or loss of earning capacity
  3. Past and future pain, suffering, disfigurement, and disability

Again, the numbered factors above don't apply to every case, and you should always have an experienced injury lawyer evaluate your specific claim.

IS THERE EVER AN INSTANCE IN WHICH I CAN IMMEDIATELY KNOW MY CASE VALUE?

Accidents that leave a person with traumatic injuries; broken bones; the need for surgery; permanent hardware; and/or cause death, may constitute what is known as a "policy limits demand."

In these instances, our personal injury attorneys will immediately notify the adverse insurance company of our representation of a client and ask that they send us what is known as a "certified declarations (DEC) sheet." This document will reveal the total amount of available dollars under the liable party's policy.

Once we receive the DEC sheet we will be able to tell you how much money is available, and whether or not your injuries justify asking for the entire amount. However, it will still be very difficult to predict the value of your car accident claim, because other factors will almost certainly play a role.

For instance, we may be able to reduce certain medical bills on your behalf so that you're not required to pay back the full amount, thus increasing your settlement. We may also be able to secure Underinsured Motorists Coverage (UIM) from your policy in the event that the adverse policy limits are inadequate.

ASK AN ATTORNEY TO REVIEW THE INSURANCE POLICY.

Asking an experienced personal injury attorney to examine an insurance policy ensures you aren't leaving money on the table. Policies can be confusing, full of difficult-to-understand contract language, some of which is applicable to your case, and some that isn't.

If your everyday job doesn't require you to review insurance policies, then your chance of fully understanding available coverage will be challenging. Fortunately, we have more than 75 years of locating and examining insurance polices for car accident victims, so we can help guide you and youir family in the right direction at no cost.

Ultimately, speaking with an experienced injury law firm about your case is an excellent step toward determining what your car accident case is worth.

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