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Compassionate, Trusted Fairbanks Car Accident Attorney
Being involved in a Fairbanks car accident can leave you injured, perhaps unable to return to work and make a living, feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of what you need to do to protect your future. Having a highly experienced Fairbanks car accident attorney from Ringstad Law Office can make a difference in how well you overcome this difficult time. At Ringstad Law Office, we understand your anxiety and frustration—after all, you were doing nothing wrong when a negligent or careless driver changed your life.
These changes may be temporary, long-lasting, or even permanent. At Ringstad Law Office, we have built our practice around personal injury law. Under the umbrella of personal injury, we help those injured through the negligence or carelessness of another person or entity, including those injured in car accidents. We aggressively defend our clients, fighting for compensation.
When you become a client of Ringstad Law Office, you will work closely with our attorneys from beginning to end—you will never be handed off to someone else. We will answer all your questions in a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand manner while treating you with respect and compassion. While your situation may seem tenuous, we vow always to have your best interests at heart as we negotiate zealously for a full and fair settlement.
Alaska Accident Statistics
The NHTSA recently released the Highway Safety Annual Report for the Federal Fiscal Year 2021. This report compares automobile accident statistics from year to year. Notably, Alaska saw fatalities from car accidents decline by 4 percent, from 67 in 2019 to 64 in 2020. Car accidents resulting from impairment declined 33 percent from 21 in 2019 to 14 in 2020, and fatalities due to lack of seat belt use fell 36 percent, from 22 in 2019 to 14 in 2020. For 2021, it is estimated that about 90 percent of drivers consistently wear their seatbelts. In a survey, the percentage of Alaskans who read or send text messages while driving dropped from 5 percent in 2020 to 2 percent in 2021. More than half of all those surveyed believed that safety had increased in the state due to posted safety zones. The number of speed citations issued during grant-funded safety events significantly increased from 2015 (457) to 2021 (4,404).
Fairbanks Accident Statistics
There were 6 fatalities from auto accidents in Fairbanks in 2017, with 7 fatalities from auto accidents in 2016. In each year, two of the fatalities from auto accidents were the result of an impaired driver. In 2017, there was one pedestrian killed in a Fairbanks auto accident, and in 2016, no pedestrians were killed.
Where are Most Fairbanks, Alaska Car Accidents?
The fatal accidents in Fairbanks in 2017 occurred at the following locations:
- Sr-3 Parks Hwy
- Van Horn and Peger Drive
- Davis Road
- Chena Hot Springs Road
The fatal accidents in Fairbanks in 2016 occurred at the following locations:
- Goldstream Road
- Sr-2 Richardson Highway
- East Cowles Street and 21st Avenue
- Johansen Expressway
- Chena Hot Springs Road
- Grange Hall Road
- Sr-6, Steese Highway
In 2018, two people died in a single-vehicle accident on the Steese Highway, and two people had serious injuries as a result of the accident.
Causes of Fairbanks, Alaska Car Accidents
Auto accidents happen, no matter where you live, although car accidents may be more likely to occur in areas like Fairbanks, which receive more snow and ice. Alaska also has one cause of auto accidents that few other states have—the highest rate of moose-vehicle collisions! Hundreds of moose are struck and killed by motorists each year on Alaska’s roadways. Other large mammals, such as caribou, bear, and bison, are also involved in motorist accidents since Alaskan roads often cut through an animal’s home range or travel corridor. The situation is more difficult in winter when drivers find it more challenging to see. Most moose-vehicle collisions occur during the dark, snowy months of December, January, and February.
Distracted driving is a serious issue, not only in Alaska but in every state in the United States. Drivers are multi-tasking while driving, and these behaviors cause a significant number of auto accidents. Drivers routinely eat entire meals while driving, fiddle with car controls, set their GPS device, talk on the phone, text or read texts, post to social media, turn around to see what the children are up to, bend over to pick up toys or bottles, talk to passengers, or simply daydream when they should be paying attention to their driving. Alaska has the harshest distracted driving penalties of any state; texting while driving has been illegal in Alaska since 2012. Texting and driving is a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Alaska, carrying a fine of up to $10,000 and up to one year in prison. If the collision caused by texting results in injury, the charge becomes a Class C felony, with fines up to $50,000 and five years in prison.
Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents, significantly increasing the risk of death or injury. Speeding accounts for about 26 percent of all traffic fatalities while also playing a significant role in serious injuries. In fact, across the nation in 2017, excess speed killed 9,717 people. Speeding can also make accidents worse when they do happen. The vehicle’s speed is directly related to injuries resulting from the crash.
Reckless driving includes such behaviors as excessive speed, drunk driving, running stop signs and red lights, aggressive driving, road rage, tailgating, extreme lane changing, drag racing with another car, impaired driving, or sudden braking. Any time a person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, they engage in reckless driving.
Running Red Lights
In 2015, two people died each day as a result of a driver running a red light in the U.S. An average of 719 people die each year in red-light running crashes, and the number of red-light running crash fatalities increased by 7 percent from 2011 to 2015. Red light crashes often occur when a driver is coming up on a yellow light (or a light that just turned red), and, rather than stop, they increase speed, hoping to get through the light before traffic begins from the opposite direction.
Running Stop Signs
While drivers usually feel safe when approaching a stop sign, you are not safe when another person runs a stop sign. Thousands of car accidents yearly are caused by drivers who run stop signs. The person who runs a stop sign is, of course, reckless but is usually driven by impatience—the driver is in a hurry and wants to assume no other drivers are coming as they blow through the stop sign. Distracted driving is also a cause of running stop signs, but whatever the cause, the results can be disastrous.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol
In 2016, 3,063 drivers in the state of Alaska were arrested for impaired driving—916 of those were women, and the remainder were men. Alaska’s per capita drunk-driving-related auto accident fatalities are among the highest in the nation, although the Alaska Legislature has enacted tough laws against driving under the influence.
Poor Weather Conditions Due to Ice and Snow
Snow, rain, sleet, and ice require drivers in the state of Alaska to be extra cautious, and while most people are, some drivers become so comfortable driving in bad conditions they neglect to be extra careful. As the winter season progresses, drivers may begin tailgating, speeding, or forgetting to slow down as they approach intersections.
Falling Asleep at the Wheel
About half of all adult drivers in the United States admit to consistently getting behind the wheel even though they are drowsy or fatigued. A full 20 percent of adult drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point in the past year, with more than 40 percent admitting they have fallen asleep behind the wheel over the past year. Drivers may not realize just how dangerous drowsy driving is. However, an estimated 5,000 people died in 2015 crashes involving a tired or sleepy driver. Driving while fatigued is very similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving after going for more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a BAC of .08 percent, and drivers who drive while fatigued are three times as likely to be involved in a car accident as well-rested drivers.
Driving at Night
Night driving can be a serious cause of auto accidents; according to the National Safety Council, older people have difficulty seeing at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as a 30-year-old. At age 60, driving becomes even more difficult, as many drivers can have compromised vision due to degenerative eye diseases. Young or old collisions can happen when they fail to see another car or are temporarily blinded by car lights.
Common Types of Car Accidents
There are many causes of car accidents and many types of car accidents. The most common types of car accidents include:
Rollover accidents are responsible for more than a third of all vehicle-related fatalities in the United States. As many as 75 percent of those who die in a rollover accident are not wearing a seat belt, therefore, are ejected from the vehicle as it flips over. Rollover claims can be complex, as driver error and other factors can cause a rollover accident. Most rollover accidents happen in an SUV, or a fifteen-passenger van, as these vehicles have a high center of gravity, making them very top-heavy.
Some automobile accidents involve only one vehicle. These one-car accidents can occur when a driver hits an animal crossing the road or slides off an icy or snowy road, hitting a fixed object like a tree. Drivers may also take a curve too fast, causing a single-car accident. The vast majority of single-car accidents involve driver error. If a single-car accident results from a roadway hazard, the driver must document the hazard by taking photographs. Intoxication is another cause of single-car accidents. Single-car accidents are common in Alaska due to animals crossing the roads, snowy or icy roads, and impaired drivers.
Rear-end collisions occur when a vehicle in the back strikes a vehicle in front. Rear-end collisions are often caused by distraction, whether a driver is talking on the phone, texting, or is otherwise distracted. Rear-end collisions often result in whiplash injuries to those in the front car. When the front area of the rear car crashes into the front car, there is generally a powerful jolt, even at relatively low speeds. Rear-end collisions are usually the fault of the driver in the back, although there are rare instances in which the front driver could be at fault. Snowy roads in Alaska can also be responsible for rear-end collisions when the car in the back does not leave sufficient space between it and the car in front.
Side-impact accidents are also known as T-bone crashes because when one vehicle hits another on the side, it resembles a “T.” The location of a side-impact automobile accident puts the driver and passengers at significant risk. The sides of cars generally have far fewer safety features than other parts since fewer cars than higher-end models have side-impact airbags. A front or back collision means there are several feet of metal and steel standing between a human being and the other car, but in a side collision, there is little more than a door frame stopping the other vehicle from impacting with a person. This area has been dubbed the “crumple zone” by experts studying car crashes. Most commonly, a side-impact car crash will occur in an intersection. Drivers often see a yellow light and speed up to race through the stoplight. A driver traveling through a green light can be broadsided in a mere instant with absolutely no way to avoid the accident. Children are the most vulnerable passengers in a side-impact car collision—even more so should they not be restrained in an approved child safety seat.
While there are far fewer head-on collisions in the U.S. than in other auto accidents, head-on collisions are the deadliest type of auto accident. If there are survivors following a head-on collision, they will likely be injured severely, even catastrophically. Head-on collisions often happen at higher rates of speed on highways and freeways. Significant physical damage will occur when two vehicles traveling 60 mph or faster collide. A lane departure by one of the vehicles is usually responsible for a head-on collision. Such a lane departure can result from an impaired driver, a distracted driver, or a tired driver who falls asleep at the wheel. Inclement weather conditions and drivers who pass in an unsafe manner can also cause head-on collisions.
Intersection accidents can be deadly when one vehicle travels at high speed and crashes into a vehicle properly crossing an intersection. Unfortunately, many drivers believe a yellow light means “speed up” rather than stop. This can place them in an intersection on a solid red light, either hitting another driver or being hit by a driver traveling through the intersection on a green light. Other causes of intersection accidents are distracted, fatigued, and impaired drivers. An Alaskan intersection can be slick, making it more difficult to slow down and come to a stop.
Concerns to Be Aware of During an Alaskan Winter to Avoid a Car Accident
In the state of Alaska, there can be particular concerns to be aware of since the wintertime is much longer than in most areas. Some of those concerns include the following:
Accidents Involving Pedestrians in the Winter
Pedestrians and drivers need to be more aware of one another during winter weather. Snowy, icy weather can distract drivers and pedestrians alike, causing them not to see one another when it is too late. In some cases, snow can pile up on a sidewalk, making it virtually impassable, so a pedestrian may decide to walk on the street. This can lead to a serious pedestrian accident when the driver fails to see the pedestrian. Many pedestrian-vehicle accidents occur at intersections. Standard crosswalks can become more dangerous when dealing with winter weather since pedestrians may be unable to move as quickly in snow or ice, or slippery conditions. These conditions can also make it difficult for vehicles to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Snow and ice can decrease visibility for drivers, plus pedestrians who are bundled up may not have the same range of vision as usual.
Accidents in Snowmobiles
Alaska has more deaths and hospitalizations associated with snowmobiles than other states because snowmobiles are used more frequently than in other states. Ejection and drowning are the most common causes of death from a snowmobile accident, and few who are catastrophically or fatally injured in a snowmobile accident wear a helmet. Many snowmobile accidents occur in areas with no trails or on a roadway designed for on-road vehicles. Most snowmobile accidents occur at night when visibility is poor.
Car Accidents and Insurance
One of the first questions which may pop into your mind following a car accident is whether the at-fault driver has insurance. This is an important consideration, mainly when your injuries or the damages to your car are severe.
Car Accident with No Insurance
If you find that the at-fault driver in your auto accident has no insurance, you will likely be facing an uphill battle to obtain compensation for your injuries and the damages to your vehicle. Although auto insurance is mandatory, about 15.4 percent of Alaska drivers are uninsured, placing Alaska in the number 11 spot for states with the highest number of uninsured drivers. Often, an uninsured driver may ask that you forgo calling the police because they fear getting into trouble for the lack of insurance. Always call the police, but ensuring your expenses are covered is even more critical.
Car Accidents and Insurance Claims
Following an auto accident, you must make a car insurance claim to either your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is essential to have a police report when you file a claim with your insurance company, as this report may indicate which driver was at fault, making it much easier for you to get the compensation you need and deserve. After calling the police and seeing injuries, contact your own insurance company. They should walk you through the steps you need to take going forward. If the accident were your fault, you would contact your insurance company. If the driver was uninsured and you carry uninsured motorist coverage, or if the accident was your fault, your insurance company will assign an adjuster to work with you. This adjuster will investigate the accident and work on your behalf to settle the claim as quickly as possible. Having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side following your car accident can make the entire process much more straightforward. At the same time, a professional can manage your claim, resulting in a more significant net recovery for you and allowing you time to heal from your injuries.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Following your Fairbanks, Alaska car collision, you must do the following:
- Stop—never, ever leave the scene of an accident, even if the accident was minor;
- Protect the scene of the accident by setting up flares and putting your car’s flashers on;
- Contact the police, even if there are no serious injuries;
- Tell the police officer what happened without embellishment and without admitting fault;
- If you are medically able, take photographs of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved;
- Exchange information with the other driver, including contact information and insurance information;
- Seek medical attention for any injuries, even if you think you are fine;
- Notify your insurance company;
- Keep careful records of information regarding your accident as well as all information pertaining to your injuries, and
- Consult a Fairbanks car accident attorney to ensure your rights and your future are properly protected.
How to Be a Defensive Driver & Avoid Car Accidents in Fairbanks, Alaska
Remember the following tips for being a defensive driver, and avoiding accidents:
- Adjust your speed, driving more slowly in winter weather to avoid sliding on slick surfaces.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid skids. Always remember it takes longer to slow down or stop on icy roads.
- Increase the distance between your car and the car in front of you.
- Be prepared—make sure your vehicle has been checked out before winter arrives.
- Check the weather before you venture out.
- Let others know before you get out in bad weather.
- Stay with your vehicle if you get stuck—it makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.
- Stay warm, making sure your vehicle has extra blankets, jackets, gloves, and a flashlight.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?
Each state sets statutes of limitations for civil claims like personal injury and medical malpractice claims. While some states have very short statutes (one year) and others have much longer statutes (up to eight or ten years), most states, including Alaska, have a two-year window of time to file a car accident claim. The statute applies to car accident lawsuits—the insurer will require you to at least give them notice of an incident that could trigger a claim “within a reasonable time” or “promptly.” The two-year statute begins to run on the date the accident occurred, so you must file your claim promptly in case it is in a lawsuit.
Why Hire a Lawyer for a Fairbanks Car Accident?
Hiring a lawyer after the accident will be your best opportunity at being fully compensated for the money spent on the medical bills or property damages. A lawyer will save you from the burdens of wasted money and time trying to navigate the murky waters of legal jargon from questionable websites or well-intentioned friends. When a Fairbanks car accident attorney has as much experience as the lawyers at Ringstad Law Office, P.C., you can be confident that the information you’re getting is legitimate and applicable to your situation.
These lawyers are life-long Fairbanks residents who care deeply about the people of our beautiful city and the surrounding areas. We are extremely active local Alaskans that can be found at Rotary, hockey games, political events, or our grandkids’ sporting events. We believe in hard work, justice, and time with family.
At Ringstad Law Office, P.C., we are dedicated to helping Alaska families that have been affected by motor vehicle accidents. We’re here to help you get back on your feet. We’ll listen to your goals and guide you through the legal process. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. You don’t have to settle for the small amount the insurance company offers you. A experienced and knowledgeable Fairbanks car accident attorney from our firm will work to get you the compensation you need.
How Soon Should I Contact a Fairbanks Car Accident Lawyer?
You should contact a Fairbanks car accident attorney as soon as possible. The adverse insurance company/adjustor starts preparing his defense to your case immediately. To avoid inadvertently waiving your ability to receive fair compensation, you should contact a Fairbanks car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Initial consults are free. It costs you nothing to get advice. Further, contingency fee arrangements are available so that you don’t have to pay by hour. Payment of attorneys fees comes at the end of the case.
Many times, the other side’s adjustors will be calling and demanding a recorded statement. Before you make recorded statements for the other side, you should contact a Fairbanks car accident attorney. That is why we are here.
Hire a Fairbanks Car Accident Attorney Near You
If you are involved in a car accident in Fairbanks, Alaska, it is important to contact an experienced Fairbanks car accident attorney as quickly as possible. Ringstad Law Office, P.C. is ready and willing to help you get through this difficult time. We can help you get your vehicle repaired and any other damages taken care of. We understand this is a difficult time for you. You may be injured so severely that you are unable to return to work, thus unable to pay your regular monthly expenses. One minute you are headed home from work, and in an instant, your life has changed, possibly forever.
We will ensure the at-fault driver is held responsible for your accident. We are highly skilled negotiators who will work hard to obtain the best settlement possible for your injuries and damages. If we cannot obtain an equitable settlement, we will not hesitate to go to trial and litigate your accident. Do not wait or hope you can handle the insurance company on your own. We want to help you get through this time, and we have the skills, experience, knowledge, and resources to do so. Contact Ringstad Law Office, P.C. today.