With the holiday season officially upon us, it becomes all the more important to stay safe and out of harm’s way as accidents and injuries increase dramatically during this time of year. As a city of bicyclists, pedestrians and thousands of motorists, we could all use a refresher in maintaining proper safety not only during the holiday season, but all year long. Read these holiday driving safety tips to keep you and your family safe.
According to the King County Department of Public Health, between 2008 and 2012, an average of 85 Seattle-area motorists were killed each year in motor vehicle accidents, and thousands more experienced injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. Over the holidays, these numbers increase nationwide as traffic volume, driver intoxication, and overall holiday hurriedness escalates. Over the next several weeks, we encourage you to practice safe, defensive driving tactics as you travel through and around Seattle – and be sure to contact an attorney for help in the event of a car accident.
Ways to stay safe this year
Under Washington laws of negligence, a motorist can face significant liability for failing to adhere to proper standards of caution, safety, and due diligence. In other words, we are all required to conduct ourselves in a safe manner behind the wheel, avoiding obvious dangers, known hazards, and misconduct that a reasonable person would avoid.
Around the holidays, one of the most common issues wreaking havoc on local roadways is intoxicated driving. With the increase in holiday parties, New Years’ celebrations, and office get-togethers, the number of drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs increases dramatically in the month of December. As always, never allow anyone behind the wheel after even just a few drinks – and contact law enforcement if you suspect an intoxicated driver.
Aside from driver intoxication, the following are several other issues that tend to arise around the holidays, leading to an increased risk in auto accident injury or fatality:
- Driving under the influence of stress, or being late
- Road rage
- Inclement weather, especially icy conditions
- Driving in unfamiliar areas with a reliance on a GPS
- Fatigued driving – which is known to mimic the signs of intoxicated driving
To avoid a collision and unnecessary holiday strife, keep an eye out for these dangers and roadway hazards – and stay out of harm’s way.
Options for Injured Victims
A holiday auto accident can quickly turn into enormous medical expenses in the New Year – which can be exasperating for the party who was not at fault. As explained above, failure to conduct oneself as a reasonably safe driver can result in a finding of negligence against that driver in the event he injures someone on the roadways. Specifically, Washington courts resolve negligence matters in favor of the plaintiff if the plaintiff can prove the following elements.
- Duty of care: The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of safety and precaution at the time of the collision (which is required of all drivers at all times).
- Breach of duty: The defendant engaged in activity resulting in the breach of this duty (e.g., driving drunk or aggressively).
- Causation: The defendant’s activity caused the plaintiff’s resulting injuries.
- Damages: The plaintiff was harmed in some way.
In a negligence action, each of the above elements must be met in order to secure victory for the injured plaintiff. In that event, the plaintiff could recover damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and future earnings.
As the holiday season commences, be sure to practice safe and alert driving at all times – and remember to stop and enjoy the holiday season aside from the busy shopping, decorating, and social activities.
Contact a Seattle injury attorney today!
If you were recently injured in a car accident or would like to discuss your options following an auto collision in Seattle, contact Max Meyers Law, PLLC: at 425-399-7000.