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The Season of Risks: Unmasking the Factors Behind the Surge in Summer Car Accidents and Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence Law

Town Law Publishing June 11, 2023

As the summer sun burns bright and the warm air heralds the onset of vacation season, the desire to hit the road and explore is a sentiment many of us share. For most, the words 'summer driving' bring to mind exciting road trips, serene drives along coastal routes, and family outings filled with laughter. However, beneath this idyllic image, a different, more disturbing reality unfolds.

The Dark Side of Summer: A Hidden Epidemic of Car Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), August, closely followed by July, sees the most car-related fatalities of any month. This statistic is both shocking and paradoxical, considering the hazardous conditions of winter are nowhere in sight. But upon closer examination, the reasons for this surge during summer become apparent.

Firstly, more people are on the roads during the summer months. Families are traveling for vacations, teenagers are driving more with school out, and there are more motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians to watch out for. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has dubbed the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the "100 deadliest days," particularly noting an uptick in the number of crashes involving teen drivers.

Secondly, increased instances of drunk driving contribute to this alarming rise in car accidents. Summer holidays and gatherings often involve alcohol, and unfortunately, some individuals choose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. NHTSA data reveals that during the Fourth of July period, nearly half of the car fatalities involved a driver with a Blood Alcohol Content over the legal limit.

Navigating Pennsylvania's Comparative Negligence Law

In the wake of a summer car accident, understanding and navigating Pennsylvania's comparative negligence law is crucial. This statute determines who was at fault in a car accident and to what extent. This "percentage of fault" then dictates the compensation each party may receive for damages.

For instance, consider a hypothetical accident involving two parties: Driver A and Driver B. Driver A was speeding, while Driver B, intoxicated, failed to stop at a red light, leading to a collision. In this case, both drivers share fault. If a court determines Driver A to be 20% at fault and Driver B to be 80% at fault, Driver A can recover 80% of his damages from Driver B. However, Driver B, being more than 50% at fault, cannot recover damages from Driver A under Pennsylvania law.

The Role of Legal Counsel: Guiding Victims Through Complexities

Accurately determining fault in a car accident is a complex process that involves analyzing detailed evidence, such as police reports, witness testimonies, and photographic evidence. This process can be particularly challenging for accident victims recovering from injuries or dealing with emotional trauma.

In these challenging times, the role of a personal injury attorney becomes paramount. An attorney can guide victims through these complexities, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight to ensure the victims receive the compensation they rightfully deserve.

In essence, while summer beckons us all with its warmth and promises of adventure, it's essential to be cognizant of the risks that come with it. Awareness of these risks, coupled with knowledge of our rights under Pennsylvania law, is the first step towards ensuring safer roads during these vibrant months.