Delaware County Car Accidents
There were over 4,300 car accidents reported in Delaware County in 2020, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). With car accidents, injuries and fatalities are common occurrences. The PennDOT’s crash statistics for Delaware County reported that 29 people lost their lives in traffic-related accidents, and 218 were injured in that same year as well. Statewide and in Delaware County, the number of vehicle accidents dropped considerably in 2020, much of which could be attributed to communities shutting down during the beginning of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The PennDOT reported a total of 104,472 motor vehicle collisions in the state in 2020, down from 125,267 in 2019. These numbers are heartening, but highway safety advocates have pointed to disturbing patterns within the drop, such as the higher percentage of single-vehicle run-off-the-road crashes and motorcycle accidents.
In Delaware County, the 4,300 crashes for 2020 also marked a substantial drop from 2019, where the county reported 4,932 accidents. Delaware County also saw a substantial number of single-vehicle run-off-the-road crashes, with 1,221 crashes in 2020. This is an increase from 2019, which had 1,158 single-vehicle run-off-the-road crashes.
Did the Pandemic Cause Less Motor Vehicle Accidents to Occur?
Even though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of stay-at-home work for many Americans as businesses closed or limited their offices, the PennDOT reported more fatalities statewide in Pennsylvania from the following categories:
- Crashes that involved a single vehicle that went off the road increased to 506 fatalities in 2020, up from 447 in 2019.
- Crashes that happened on local roads caused 224 fatalities, up from 186 in 2019.
- Motorcycle accidents caused 217 fatalities, up from 174 in 2019.
- Crashes that involved speeding caused 188 fatalities, up from 162 in 2019.
Motorcycle accidents were up in general statewide, with 3,256 crashes in 2020, which was up from the 2,968 cycle collisions in 2019. The increase is even more jarring since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that there was an overall drop in road traffic by over 16 percent in the first half of 2020.
Motorcyclist crashes went up substantially in Delaware County in 2020 as well. There were 80 motorcyclists involved in accidents last year, a marked increase from 2019, where 70 motorcyclists crashed. These numbers point out the reality of injuries and deaths that occur from vehicle accidents. With injuries, lost wages also frequently happen while the victim is recuperating. Even accidents that do not result in visible property damage can cause permanent injuries. Human beings are frailer than the metal structures that are colliding in a vehicle crash.
In the best case scenario, only the vehicle will be damaged. However, any accident is going to have a negative impact on the drivers’ lives. A seemingly minor accident can even cause difficulty in getting to work and back home for the victim while the vehicle is in the repair shop.
What are Common Car Crash Injuries?
There are so many variables in car crashes, including the size of the vehicles, the location of the collision, and the speed. Many factors determine the severity of the car accident injury, such as if a seat belt was worn and an occupant’s position in the car. Establishing the severity of the injury is important because it will affect if one is able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit and for how much. For this reason, it is always important to speak to a doctor after a car accident.
Some injuries are more common in accidents than others. Some typical car accident injuries include:
Soft Tissue Damage: Soft tissue injuries are commonly seen in car accidents. A typical form of soft tissue damage is whiplash. Whiplash is an injury of the muscles and ligaments in the neck and back, which is caused by the sudden movements in the collision.
Scrapes and Cuts: When loose objects in the car become projectiles during a crash, they can hit human bodies with force and cause severe cuts and scrapes. Coffee mugs, backpacks, cellphones, and even purses can cause serious scrapes and cuts in a collision.
Head Injuries: Head injuries can range from fairly minor to debilitating. Two common closed head injuries are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions. A closed head injury means that there is head trauma but no break in the skull.
Chest Injuries: These are also common results of car accidents, and the injuries can range from contusions, bruises, broken ribs, and internal injuries. Often, drivers get chest injuries due to their position behind the steering wheel. The seat belt can also cause chest injuries as the body is pushed hard against it from the force of the collision.
Arm and Leg Injuries: With the force of the collision, arms and legs may be slammed into the dashboard or the front seat. In side-impact collisions, arms and legs may be thrown against the door. These kinds of injuries could range from bruises to sprains or breaks.
What are the Reasons for Vehicle Crashes in Delaware County?
It is well known that Americans spend an increasing amount of time in their cars, and this is no different in Delaware County, which reports that most of its working population commutes to work alone in their car, with an average commute time of around 29 minutes. These Delaware County numbers are in keeping with the United States Census Bureau statistics, which lists the average one-way commute time as 26.1 minutes.
For those that work five days a week full-time, that 26 minutes each way commute adds up to 4.35 hours a week and over 200 hours spent alone behind the wheel over the course of a year. These numbers do not include any other car trips in a given week, such as a drive to the grocery, the mall, school, sports drop-offs, special events, and weekend outings. A person spends a lot of time in the car in a week and even more in a lifetime.
There are a number of reasons for car accidents besides sheer volume and driving time on the roads, and many of them are the responsibility of one of the drivers involved in the collision. The PennDOT and other studies estimate that 85 to 90 percent of crashes are caused by driver error. While the following statistics provided by the state pertain to 2020 Delaware County vehicle collisions, any given accident may have fallen under more than one category. For example, speeding is usually listed as aggressive driving as well.
Some of the most commonly cited reasons in the PennDOT Delaware County crash statistics are listed below.
Distracted driving is listed as a primary cause of 541 accidents in Delaware County in 2020. This is a considerable drop from 2019, where 619 accidents in Delaware County were caused by distracted driving. In the state of Pennsylvania, distracted driving is listed as the reason for 10,826 accidents, down from 13,776 in 2019. This is certainly attributable to massive efforts by government agencies, road safety advocates, cellphone manufacturers, and auto manufacturers to reduce the incidents either via public awareness or safety features, such as Bluetooth and talk-to-text technologies.
Distracted driving is often pictured in public outreach campaigns as texting and driving, which certainly accounts for a lot of distracted driving incidents. However, distracted does not have to mean that the driver has eyes on a digital device instead of the road, it could be paying attention to what passengers are doing behind or beside the driver, finding a radio station, daydreaming, personal grooming, or eating and drinking. Even a coffee mug in a driver’s hand will get in the way of grabbing the steering wheel.
There are a lot of ways humans can fill the time spent behind the wheel with something else that needs to get done. However, the most important task is driving; it is not a time to multitask.
This relates to drifting, which is where the car goes in and out of its lane lines, or the driver flat out changes lanes without properly signaling and adjusting to traffic patterns. This type of driver error caused 891 accidents in Delaware County in 2020. It is not often discussed in traffic safety public outreach, but improper lane departures are a substantial cause of accidents every year. In Delaware County, this caused 940 accidents in 2019. Statewide, 31,494 accidents were chalked up to lane departures in 2020, down from 38,277 in 2019.
Impaired motorists include those who drive under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Impaired driving can include both drunk driving and drugged driving. This accounted for 413 accidents in Delaware County last year. This is down from 2019, where 430 accidents in Delaware County listed this as a cause. More and more drivers are opting not to get back behind the wheel while under the influence of a few drinks or both illegal or legal drugs that impede reaction times and focus.
In the state of Pennsylvania, the numbers of impaired drivers also dropped in 2020, with 9,782 collisions that listed this as the cause. In 2019, there were 11,304 impaired driving accidents.
Single Vehicle Car Accidents
In 2020, 1,221 Delaware County accidents did not involve two vehicles, but a car driving into a fixed object or off the road. This marked an increase for this type of crash in Delaware County over previous years. In 2019, Delaware County reported 1,158 single vehicle run-off-the road crashes. Statewide, single vehicles that ran off the road made up 39,441 crashes in 2020. In 2019, that number was 43,291.
Speeding accounted for 179 of the crashes in Delaware County in 2020. This driver error makes up a substantially smaller portion of the accidents for the year, but there was a marked increase from 2019, where Delaware County reported 138 accidents from speeding. In the state of Pennsylvania, there was also an increase in speeding crashes, with 4,002 reported in 2020, which was up from 3,898 in 2019.
About 230 accidents in Delaware County were chalked up to this common problem on the road. In the state of Pennsylvania, 5,615 accidents were attributed to aggressive driving in 2020, down from 6,748 in 2019. Aggressive driving has come to be associated with the term road rage by many people, which is certainly one aspect of the aggressive driving category. In Pennsylvania, these are some behaviors associated with aggressive driving:
- Racing to red lights or ignoring stop signs
- Frequent lane changes
- Failing to yield oncoming vehicles
- Illegal U-turns
As one can see, a lot of what is termed as aggressive driving encompasses the other reasons for accidents. The PennDOT is calling the behaviors aggressive because the acts could injure others. These aggressive driving behaviors happen every day.
If one encounters an aggressive driver, it is important to remember the following:
- If one encounters an aggressive driver, get out of their way, and do not challenge them. Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact, and do not make rude gestures in response to an irritating action.
- Do not block the passing lane if driving slower than traffic, pull over to the slower lane.
- Do not attempt to pursue or follow the vehicle. If one wishes to call the police to report the dangerous behavior, pull over to a safe location first, and give a description of the vehicle and license plate number, road and intersection, and the behavior that caused a problem on the road.
Vehicle failures accounted for 179 accidents in 2020 for Delaware County. These types of accidents can become a products liability lawsuit, and the manufacturer and seller may be held responsible. This was down from 2019, with 210 accidents. Statewide, there were 5,510 accidents attributed to vehicle failures in 2020, with 5,933 in 2019.
This is an underestimated problem on the road. Many overworked, overtaxed drivers can nod off in the quiet of sitting behind the wheel. It is not as common as drunk driving, but it is remarkably dangerous. Many drowsy drivers microsleep for a second or two, which is plenty of time for an accident to occur.
However, this driver error is less prevalent in Delaware County and statewide. In 2020, Delaware County saw 57 drowsy driving accidents, in 2019 that number was 75. Statewide, drowsy driving accidents went down to 1,881 in 2020, from 2,498 in 2019.
Does Pennsylvania Have Safe Driving Outreach Campaigns?
Driving is not just a mechanical skill set, much of it is about mental clarity. So much of what happens on the road depends on the other drivers, and adverse weather conditions make that even more true. For instance, a motorist driving at 60 miles per hour may not be a problem on a sunny day, but if another driver cuts in front of them during a hail storm, that driver may well lose control of the car.
The PennDOT invests in federal grant funds for safe driving public outreach campaigns and education efforts. One important outreach campaign is the Start SMART, Stay SMART program. This outreach is intended to educate drivers about driving defensively, understanding that everyone needs a game plan to deal with errant behaviors on the road. This is an acronym for the steps to keep in mind before starting a trip:
- Seat: The seat belts should be fastened.
- Mirrors: The mirrors should be adjusted as needed.
- Air: The air conditioner, heat, and fans should be adjusted as needed.
- Radio: Find what music or audio will be playing during the trip before driving. The last thing a driver needs to be doing is using one hand to find a good song on the radio when two hands are needed on the steering wheel.
- Traffic: Thoroughly check for people, traffic, and objects before moving, this is particularly true when backing up.
When a trip has started, drivers should remember the following:
- Speed: Watch the speed.
- Mirrors: Check the mirrors.
- Avoid: Avoid all distractions.
- Remember: Remember the rules of the road.
- Time: Give enough time to get to the destination. Drivers are less likely to make hasty decisions when they know time is on their side.
What Should I Do if My Claim is Denied by the Insurance Company?
Often, drivers involved in a car accident have their claim denied by the insurance company. The best, quickest way to resolve that problem is to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer can help a car accident victim if their claim is denied for any of the following reasons:
- Liability if the insurance company is blaming the victim for causing the accident.
- Limited tort.
- Prior injuries.
- Minimal property damage to the vehicle.
- Prior lawsuits.
- Severity and seriousness of the injury.
- No insurance coverage.
All those who are injured in vehicle crashes deserve justice. For help with a personal injury case, it is important to speak to a lawyer right away.
Determining Fault in Pennsylvania
In a fatal car accident case, the family and friends need time to mourn after the loss of their loved one. A lawyer can help the survivors file a wrongful death claim if it is necessary.
After a serious collision, the injured needs time and the help of health care professionals to recuperate. In the best case scenario, the damage is limited to property that needs minor repairs. However, property damage can also cause problems. If a car needs repairs, a person may have to find alternate ways to get to and back from work and household errands. In some cases, a person may suffer lost wages because they are unable to get transportation to and from work.
Every accident is going to have a negative impact on the driver’s life, even without injuries. To help with recuperation, a lawyer can take advantage of existing protections in Pennsylvania law. Since Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state, there are a few considerations to keep in mind if one is seeking compensation for medical bills and/or property damage.
For those who selected no-fault insurance, the upsides are that the driver is covered regardless of who caused the accident, and the payouts for medical bills are quick. If a driver selected the no-fault insurance option, they have to wait for the results of police and insurance company investigations to get compensation.
While an injured party may get the money needed for medical care right away, they may have to wait to pay back a mechanic or body shop for the damaged vehicle. Another aspect of Pennsylvania law to keep in mind is that if the injuries are severe, disabling, or fatal, the injured party can file a claim against the other driver for compensation. However, a serious injury threshold must be met to file a claim for damages.
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
In Pennsylvania, damage claims are paid out to each driver based on their percentage of fault. If the driver is found to be less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, they can collect damages, but the percentage of fault will be deducted. For example, if a person is found to be 25 percent at fault, they are eligible to collect 75 percent of the total damage award.
Drivers found to be more than 51 percent at fault cannot collect damages from the other driver’s insurance company. If a car accident case makes it to court, the comparative negligence rule guides the court and insurance claim adjusters.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania?
While there is much to keep in mind for those involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania, it is best to tackle the case quickly. There is a statute of limitations of two years for filing a car accident lawsuit. This time limit begins on the date of the accident.
Since car accident laws in Pennsylvania are complex, it is essential to speak to an experienced lawyer after a collision. Victims and their families have enough to worry about after a serious collision. For the victim, it is best to let a talented legal advocate do the fighting for them.
Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Advocate for Injured Collision Victims
Dealing with a car accident is a complicated process. Since recovering from the accident is the first priority, it is advisable to have an experienced lawyer represent you. A dedicated Delaware County car accident lawyer at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. will help you with the legal process after a collision and fight to protect your rights. For a free consultation, call us at 267-861-7100 or complete our online form. We are located in Philadelphia, and we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Norristown