The Jeff Brooke Team handles many types of injury cases, but auto accidents are by far the most common. Within the category of auto accidents, the “rear-ender” is the single most common. And now that winter weather is upon us, you can be sure that the number of rear-enders is going increase up dramatically.
It is common knowledge that a driver who causes a rear-end accident is almost always liable. This is not simply an arbitrary rule. The fact is that for the vast majority of such accidents, following at a safe distance will likely prevent disaster. To our surprise, however, very few drivers even know what a safe distance is.
If drivers even think about following distances at all, they may remember the “Rule of 10’s.” This is a helpful rule but won’t protect you in all instances. The Rule of 10’s estimates that you should follow at one car length for every 10 miles per hour of speed. So, for example, if you were following another car at 60 miles per hour, you should be following at six car lengths. If you were following at 50 miles per hour, you should be following at five car lengths, etc.
Unfortunately, your legal duties may not be so simple and a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help answer any questions you might have after an auto accident.
To the surprise of many, stopping distances are actually estimated as a matter of law. In Section 46.2-880 of the Code of Virginia, state law estimates what your total stopping distance should be. Here is a link: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-880.
The table of stopping distances makes for interesting reading. You will note that when you include perception/reaction time, dry pavement and functioning brakes, an automobile traveling 55 miles per hour should be able to stop in 265 feet. That may strike many as quite a long distance and certainly urges caution out on the roads. But, if that stopping distance doesn’t give you pause (pun intended), remember the presumptions that the code section makes: dry pavement, properly functioning brakes and average perception reaction time. Each one of these factors can vary widely and need to be considered every time you get behind the wheel.
How is my reaction time today? Am I sleepy? Older? Have I taken medicine or had anything to drink? Even a half second of delayed reaction time can dramatically lengthen the period of time it will take to stop your car. As winter weather closes in on the East Coast, all bets are off concerning stopping distances. Even a thin sheen of rain on an asphalt highway can alter your ability to stop. Snow and ice can, of course, make it almost impossible to stop. When you begin to think of the toll of injuries, medical bills, legal liability and other suffering that comes from the simple mistake of following too closely, you get the picture. So as you take to the roads this winter, remember that your duties under the Code of Virginia are just the beginning of the story.
If your car collides with another vehicle, there could be civil and/or criminal consequences. If you are looking for a personal injury attorney in Virginia to help you navigate through your car accident case, please contact The Jeff Brooke Team. So, take a deep breath, back down your speed and keep an eagle eye out for conditions affecting driving, and all those for fewer accidents, raise your right foot!