Most accidents result from negligence – but who’s at fault isn’t always clear right away. Find out some examples of preventable accidents and what to do if you think your injury was avoidable.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “just an accident”?
The words often imply that no one is at fault. No one meant for it to happen. It’s just an accident.
But when that accident has changed your life, that phrase just an accident isn’t good enough. A crash that takes a loved one’s life, a medical mistake that leaves you permanently disabled, a workplace mishap that ends your career – how can you shrug off a tragedy like this as just an accident?
In our firm’s nearly 22 years of experience practicing law, one thing our attorneys have found is that many accidents are avoidable. The cause isn’t always easy to identify, but that doesn’t mean no one is at fault.
What Kinds of Accidents Are Preventable?
Accidents of all kinds could be avoided if only the people who cause them acted with caution.
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Auto accidents, for example, often result from drivers breaking traffic safety laws – speeding, driving while distracted, driving while impaired.
Some car crashes result from vehicle defects, but even these are preventable. The manufacturer of the cars or the parts used in them must be sure of the quality of the parts and the installation.
Medical mistakes can be avoided when doctors and healthcare staff communicate clearly and medical facilities keep organized and follow safety protocols.
Dog bites don’t have to happen – not when a dog’s owner keeps it well-trained or safely restrained.
If property owners keep their homes, stores, restaurants, parking lots, offices, or other premises free of safety hazards, accidents like slip and falls are avoidable. This requires planning, consistent effort, and attention to detail.
In a case our firm recently handled, a child picked up a stick and threw it, striking another child in the eye. Was this accident preventable? As it turns out, yes – and several parties could have done their part to avoid it.
Of course, the child have avoided throwing the stick in the first place. But the property owner and her landscaping company could have prevented the accident, too, had they only not negligently left a pile of yard debris curbside – in violation of a town ordinance – for more than a month.
If someone tries to tell you that your injury was “just an accident” and you’re not content with that explanation, you don’t have to go along with the theory. An attorney can dig deeper to find out the truth of who and what led to your injuries.
Why Fault Matters
Figuring out who or what is at fault for an accident is more than playing the blame game. It can have a direct effect on the future – not only yours, but others’. For one thing, you need to identify who’s at fault for the accident so you can get the compensation you deserve. Also, understanding what happened can help others avoid similar accidents in the future.
Fault in Personal Injury Claims
Who caused the accident – and how they did so – are central questions in a personal injury claim. The only way a victim can get compensation is by pursuing a case against the person who caused the accident.
If there was no other party at fault – which sometimes happens when a correctly performed medical procedure brings about a bad outcome or when a shopper falls in a store, but no safety hazard caused the fall – then there’s no case.
So, whether the accident was avoidable and how the defendant failed to avoid it matters. Insurance companies and whole teams of defense lawyers often try to get out of paying for claims by denying responsibility. They sometimes blame the victims in their efforts to avoid the financial cost of paying the claim – no matter how legitimate the case is or how absurd the victim-blaming may be.
Learning from Accidental Mistakes
Whether because they honestly don’t want another person to get hurt or just because they don’t want to be the target of another lawsuit, the defendant of a personal injury case may realize the behavior that caused this whole ordeal needs to change.
That can mean implementing policies and procedures to make the environment safer. It may mean paying more attention behind the wheel or double-checking hospital records before administering medications or performing procedures.
How to Avoid Accidents
We can all take steps to make the world around us safer.
Preventing Motor Vehicle Accidents
When you’re traveling, always be alert to your surroundings – whether you’re being the wheel or on foot.
Motorists should follow speed limits, road signs, and traffic safety laws at all times.
Pedestrians should use caution when crossing the street, choosing to cross at corners and in crosswalks and avoid crossing against traffic lights.
Cyclists should use bike lanes whenever possible and observe the rules of the road just like they would behind the wheel.
Sharing the road safely is everyone’s responsibility – and if everyone made safety their top priority, rather than getting where we’re going faster, our streets could be a lot less dangerous.
Avoiding Injuries Due to Property Hazards
The best way to avoid an injury caused by a property hazard is to make sure there are no property hazards to pose a danger to visitors or workers.
Yes, this is easier said than done. Yes, spills happen. Inclement weather leads to slippery conditions on sidewalks and in entryways. Potholes develop in parking lots. But the property owner has the ability – in fact, the responsibility – to do something about these dangers before they hurt someone.
Keeping a property well-maintained is a great first step to preventing accidents from happening there. So is careful monitoring of the premises for any condition that could become dangerous. And when a potential risk does develop, having a strategy in place to address it promptly can help property owners act fast to block off the hazard and warn visitors of the danger.
How to Handle an Accident That Was Preventable
Just because accidents are avoidable doesn’t always mean that you personally are able to prevent them. You can’t control the often careless actions of others around you. Often, the people who get hurt in an accident are the ones who weren’t doing anything wrong.
If you got hurt in a preventable incident, don’t dismiss it as “just an accident.” You know better. Someone or something caused this injury, and you owe it to yourself – not to mention others who could fall victim to the same dangers – to find out how.