Break or Swerve: What is the Best Way to Avoid a Car Accident

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Most of the time, we think of driving as so commonplace that we don’t realize—at least consciously—the inherent risks to getting behind the wheel. Even when you’re not traveling at interstate speeds, reacting to and stopping in the event of a road hazard can be a matter of a few blinks.

All drivers eventually face split-second decisions to react to potential accidents. To avoid a car crash, what should you do: brake or swerve?

It’s not always easy to determine in the moment which action you should take, especially when there’s hardly enough time for you to react.

Let’s consider two potential car accident scenarios you’re likely to encounter: avoiding a reckless driver, and avoiding debris.

Avoiding Accidents with Other Cars

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Say you’re driving down a narrow country road. There’s almost no traffic coming at you, but suddenly a car pulls out in front of you.

What should you do: brake or swerve?

Swerving to Avoid an Accident

Instinctively you swerve to the right and careen off the road. Normally this would be a viable option to preserve both your safety and the other driver’s. However, in this situation, you swerve off the road and directly into a telephone pole.

This type of accident is called a no-contact accident. The driver who caused you to crash is called a “phantom driver.” Because the other driver did not directly hit you, it is much more difficult to ascertain fault.

More often than not, your insurer will treat a no-contact crash as if the phantom driver had no insurance. Since determining the other party’s fault is much more difficult, you’ll likely have to pay through your own policy’s underinsured/uninsured coverage.

Braking to Avoid an Accident

Say you brake instead, but not soon enough.

Rear-end accidents occur when you don’t have enough room to stop. If you rear-end another car, you are almost always at fault. You’ll have a difficult time proving the other driver was more at fault than you. Fortunately, the same goes if someone rear-ends you. In this scenario the driver who pulled out was likely more at fault, but you would need a witness to support your claim.

Safely Avoiding Road Debris

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A crash involving road debris is usually considered an at-fault collision. Uninsured driver coverage usually doesn’t apply here because it’s debris, not a car, and as such would never have insurance coverage in the first place.

If you swerve to miss debris laying on the ground but collide with another vehicle or a guardrail in the process, you’re likely going to be the at-fault party.

Braking to stop from hitting debris can also result in another driver rear-ending you. Like we said before, the person rear-ending you will likely bear the lion’s share of the fault, and you’ll likely be able to collect damages from them.

If another driver caused the debris that caused you to swerve and crash, you’ll have to prove the other driver’s involvement with eyewitness statements, especially if the driver doesn’t stop.

If the negligent driver doesn’t stop, you will still likely be able to file through your own insurance. Though you’ll have to assess the damage to your vehicle and determine whether or not it’s worth it to file through your own insurance and risk raising your monthly premiums.

Help from an Evansville Car Accident Lawyer

Road hazards—from unpredictable drivers to leftover construction debris—aren’t going anywhere soon, and you shouldn’t have to fear for your financial safety while you’re worrying about your physical and mental well-being. If you or someone you know has been injured because of a car accident due to one of these brake-or-swerve situations, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help.

Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.