Coronavirus Car Accidents Pose Unique Risks and Challenges, But Help Is Available

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted April 16, 2020

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As we all continue to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the auto accident lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are still working and available to help if you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another driver.

AUTO ACCIDENT LAWYERS Get Help Even During Coronavirus

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Saiontz & Kirk, PA, Attorneys & Lawyers, Baltimore, MD

While there has clearly been a decrease in the number of car crashes during the COVID-19 outbreak, our injury attorneys have noticed an increase in the severity of accidents and problems individuals face following an accident.

Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. provides free consultations and case evaluations to help make sure your legal options are protected, and any questions are answered following an accident, even amid the coronavirus. Contact us today by phone, email, text message or complete the form on this page.

Increasing Speeds of Accidents During COVID-19 Pandemic

Seeing mostly clear roads, many cars have been traveling at much higher speeds in recent weeks, and some drivers are engaging in other reckless behavior during coronavirus “lockdowns”, such as failing to obey traffic controls or failing to watch for other vehicles with the right-of-way.

A recent coronavirus traffic report published by INRIX highlights the changes in average driving speeds since the outbreak emerged in March 2020, even as the overall volume of cars on the road has dropped.

The group looked at data from several major cities, and found that while the average vehicle miles traveled has dropped about 80% since the “stay-at-home” orders began, travel speeds are up as high as 75% in some places, compared to January and February 2020, when traffic patterns were normal.

For example, in Seattle, the first city to go into lockdown, the report indicates that there has been an increase of 15 MPH in average morning speeds on interstates and state highways. In some locations, speeds have increased as high as 30 MPH above prior averages. This trend was also observed in Washington, D.C. and appears to be a nationwide change in the accident risk due to coronavirus.

New York City officials have issued 60% more speeding tickets from speed camera data in March 2020, when compared to the same month of last year. Officials in Washington, D.C. have seen a 20% increase, and the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit by 21-25 mph increased by nearly 40%.

Speed has always been one of the main contributing factors in many auto accidents, with prior research suggesting that just a 1% change in speed leads to a 3% increase the risk of suffering a severe car accident injury and a 4% increase in the risk of fatal injuries.

Pedestrian Accidents During Coronavirus “Stay Home” Orders

In Maryland and most other states that have issued “stay home” orders, individuals are still encouraged to get out and walk, while maintaining social distancing. Increased foot traffic near roadways may also have an unintended impact on the risk of pedestrian accidents where cars hit walkers.

A 2010 study (PDF) found that for pedestrians struck by a car, the risk of death jumps significantly once the vehicle exceeds 30 MPH, with the fatality risk 3.5 to 5.5 times more likely for the pedestrian as the speed increases by only 10 MPH difference, from 30 MPH to 40 MPH.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9,378 traffic deaths were linked to speeding in 2018. The NHTSA warns that increased speeds also mean drivers are more likely to lose control, occupant protection equipment is less effective, stopping distance is increased, injuries are more severe, and more property damage is likely to occur.

Difficulties Obtaining Treatment for a Car Accident Injury During a Coronavirus Outbreak

In addition to concerns about the risk of a crash, the severity of auto accident injuries during the coronavirus outbreak may be higher, as individuals involved face unique challenges obtaining treatment for their injuries. This may increase their pain and suffering and lead to permanent disability if they fail to fully recover from their injury due to a lack of proper medical care.

Many hospital emergency rooms are already overwhelmed, and there is a reluctance to go to the crowded waiting rooms after an accident, where the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is substantially higher. As a result, many individuals involved in an accident are delaying critical early treatment for their injuries, which should be avoided.

Over the past few weeks, our accident injury lawyers have spoken with a number of medical providers to help coordinate treatment for our clients and make sure proper precautions are being taken to ensure safe and effective injury treatments are available during the coronavirus outbreak.

A number or orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists and other medical providers throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania have taken important steps to allow treatment for accident-related injuries to continue amid the risk of COVID-19, including:

  • Increased Spacing Between Scheduled Patients: Doctors have dramatically lowered the number of patients scheduled throughout the day, reducing exposure to others when going to the doctor for treatment;
  • Wait in Cars, Not Waiting Rooms: Many providers allow patients to call the office when they arrive, and wait in their car until the doctor is ready for their appointment, avoiding waiting rooms where individuals seeking treatment for accident injuries may be exposed to other patients;
  • Enhanced Cleaning Between Patients: Medical treatment facilities that continue to operate should all be following recommended guidance for additional cleaning of exam rooms or treatment locations between patients;
  • Video or Tele-Medicine for Accident Injury Consultations and Physical Therapy: Several treatment providers now offer video conference or telemedicine consultations to help patients perform exercises and other therapy to treat soft-tissue injuries, allowing individuals to continue to receive the needed treatment that helps avoid being left with long-term or permanent injuries from an auto accident.

Auto Accident Lawyers Available To Help During COVID-19

During these difficult times, the accident lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are available to help. In addition to dealing with the insurance company and making sure our clients receive the proper settlement or compensation in their case, we are also able to provide information about treatment providers who can help you while dealing with the pain and suffering caused by an accident.

The most important thing to do after an accident during the coronavirus outbreak is to contact our personal injury lawyers and make sure obtain the legal guidance and support you need. All cases are handled by our law firm on a contingency fee basis, so there is never any out-of-pocket costs to hire our lawyers and we only receive attorneys fees or expenses if a settlement or recovery is obtained.

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