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Motor Vehicle Accidents on the Rise Again

In California and 35 other states, deaths and injuries in car accidents were up during the first half of 2015 in comparison to the same six-month period in the previous year. Experts have cited a number of causes including the improving economy. When people are employed, they are on the road more and taking more vacations. However, there is also a higher accident rate based on mileage, and this suggests that other elements are at work as well.

Safety advocates have expressed dismay over the rising numbers. Other possible causes cited are alcohol use, speeding and distracted drivers. Cellphone usage is also a factor in car accidents. AT&T found that 70 percent of drivers admit to using smartphones and driving at the same time, and more than 60 percent said that they had read or sent texts while driving. A driver who is texting is eight times more likely to be in an accident.

In 2007, deaths from motor vehicle accidents totaled 44,000, but in the recession years that followed, total numbers never got higher than 40,000. With the economy improving, those numbers may be due to start climbing again.

A driver who causes an accident due to using a cellphone while driving might not face criminal charges. However, this does not mean that an injured person cannot file a civil suit. Furthermore, if the driver does face criminal charges and is found not guilty, a civil suit might still be successful. In a civil suit, the winning side must present what is known as “a preponderance of the evidence.” This is a lower burden of proof than that of “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is required in criminal cases. A civil suit might be necessary after an accident in which an insurance company offers too little compensation.

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