Being involved in an automobile accident can shake you up emotionally, injure you physically, and leave you floundering, financially. Depending on the severity of your auto accident, you are likely to experience varying levels of all of these things. Your injuries may have forced you to miss work, therefore you also missed your regular paycheck. Since many of us live from one paycheck to another, your regular bills, along with your medical bills, could be mounting alarmingly.
Your injuries could be so severe that you may not be able to return to work for a very long time. How will you support yourself and your family? How will you pay your medical expenses related to your auto accident, especially those which will be long-term? If you have gone through such a situation, you understand the frustration, the anxiety and the stress associated with the aftermath of an auto accident. If you are currently in the middle of dealing with your Florida automobile accident, the single most important, most helpful thing you can do in order to increase your chances of a more positive outcome, is to contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.
Auto Accident Statistics
According to a 2015 Newsweek article, the period between January 2015 and June 2015 was one of the deadliest traffic accident periods since 2007, with 19,000 people losing their lives. Further auto accident facts included:
- During the same time period, there were 2.3 million serious injuries resulting from auto accidents.
- The cost of these accidents, increased significantly as well, by 24 percent, or roughly $152 billion. Costs of traffic accidents includes property damage, medical expenses and wage and productivity losses.
- When compared with 2014, only 14 states recorded a decrease in driving deaths between January 2015 and June 2015.
- An AT&T survey found that 70 percent of those who responded to the survey admitted to using their phone while driving, with 61 percent admitting to reading, sending or replying to texts.
- In the same AT&T survey, respondents even admitted to emailing and using social media while driving, as well as snapping selfies and shooting videos.
- These statistics fly in the face of statistics which conclude texting and driving increases the likelihood of a crash by as much as eight times, and that crashes which involve texting or talking on a cellphone are responsible for 27 percent of all accidents.
- In the state of Florida during the period from January 1, 2016 and October 6, 2016, there were 293,619 total automobile crashes.
- Of those crashes, 2,041 resulted in a fatality and 30,419 involved commercial vehicles.
- Pedestrians were involved in 6,392 of the Florida crashes, with 422 pedestrian fatalities.
- Bicycles were involved in 4,913 of the Florida crashes, with 103 bicyclist fatalities.
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What are the Factors Involved in Auto Accidents?
Although there are more safety features in newer cars, as well as higher levels of technology, car accidents don’t seem to be slowing down. Your car accident will have its own specific set of circumstances, however across the board, there are a number of more common factors associated with auto accidents. These factors fall into two categories—driver error and non-driver accident factors. Driver error encompasses many different issues, and is the largest single cause of auto accidents in the United States. Some behaviors which fall under driver error include the following:
- Fatigued driving can be as dangerous as distracted driving, however since there is no test to determine level of fatigue, and because state reporting practices are inconsistent, the data on fatigued driving is limited. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adult drivers admitted to driving a vehicle while feeling drowsy within the past twelve months, while a third (37 percent) admitted they have actually fallen asleep while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a “conservative” estimate which concludes that 100,000 auto accidents are the direct result of driver fatigue annually, leading to 1,550 deaths and 71,000 serious injuries. Self-reporting for drowsy driving is unreliable, since many people either don’t want to admit they were sleepy, or really did not realize how their level of fatigue contributed to their auto accident. Men are more likely than women to drive while fatigued, and twice as likely as women to fall asleep behind the wheel. Adults with children are also more likely to drive while drowsy, as are shift workers. An Australian study found that subjects who were awake for 18 hours were equally as impaired as those with a BAC of .05. After 24 hours of being awake, the subjects were equally as impaired as those with a BAC of .08—the legal limit for intoxication.
- Distracted driving is more and more often responsible for serious, even deadly, auto accidents. In our increasingly busy world, the multi-tasking we do in other areas of our lives has spilled over into our driving. We eat entire meals while driving, talk and text, fiddle with the GPS or radio, turn around to scold the children in the back seat, or pick up a toy for the baby, talk with our passengers, pay more attention to what’s happening on the side of the road than our driving, put on makeup, read, and daydream—all while we barrel down the roadways at 40, 50, 60 and 70 miles per hour. Text messaging, which requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, could be one of the most alarming distractions, yet despite the vast amount of information on the dangers of texting and driving, the National Safety Council attributes 1.6 million auto accidents per year to texting while behind the wheel. Texting while driving is about six times more likely to lead to an auto accident than driving while intoxicated, and texting while driving results in a 400 percent increase in the time a driver’s eyes are off the road. Distraction is a particular problem for those in the 15-19 age group. In this age group, ten percent of all fatal crashes had an element of distracted driving.
- Speeding and driving while impaired are other forms of driver error. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, impaired drivers may be responsible for as many as 40 percent of all fatalities resulting from auto accidents. Everything around us centers on quick and convenient, however speeding can lead to car accidents which result in serious injuries or death. Teens are the group of drivers most likely to exceed the speed limit, and since they are also the least experienced drivers, the mix of speed and inexperience can have deadly consequences.
- Tailgating is another form of driver error which can lead to serious auto accidents. The frustration of daily commutes or being behind a slow-moving vehicle can lead drivers to follow the car ahead more closely than they should. This practice is known as tailgating, and, according to the NHTSA, rear-end collisions account for about 23 percent of all motor vehicle crashes, resulting in about 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries. Many drivers are unaware of the fact that stopping distance is directly related to the size and weight of the vehicle. As an example, it takes longer for a heavier pickup truck to stop than for a compact car, and for a large 18-wheeler, it can take the equivalent of the length of a football field for the truck to come to a complete stop when traveling down the road at 70 mph.
The other cause of auto accidents—non-driver-related factors—include the following:
- Adverse weather conditions;
- Improperly maintained roadways;
- Vehicle performance—or lack of performance;
- Faulty brakes or tires;
- Night driving;
- Debris in the roadway;
- Animals in the roadway;
- Sharp curves in roads, and
- Construction zones.
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Where Auto Accidents Occur
It is actually true that the majority of auto accidents occur within fifteen miles the driver’s home. In fact, only about one percent of auto accidents happen more than fifty miles from the driver’s home. A survey done by Progressive Insurance concluded that 52 percent of all auto accidents happen five miles or less from the driver’s home, while 77 percent occur fifteen miles or less from the driver’s home. Other results of the survey found that the Northeast had the highest percentage of reported accidents which occurred less than five miles from the driver’s home, while the region with the highest percentage (21%) of reported accidents which occurred 21 miles or more from the driver’s home was the Great Plains.
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Liability for the Injuries You Sustained in Florida Auto Accident
Florida’s no-fault laws work to regulate claims resulting from relatively minor automobile accidents. Florida permits the filing of civil automobile accident claims only under specific circumstances, such as:
- A claim of negligence is generally the “backbone” of any lawsuit stemming from a car accident. While we may use the word “negligent” in everyday conversation, when it relates to a car accident, four distinct elements must be proven. The plaintiff must show the negligent driver owed them a “duty of care,” meaning they were obligated to drive reasonably and safely. The plaintiff must show the other driver breached that duty of care and that breach caused the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. Finally, the plaintiff must clearly show that he or she was damaged or injured. This can encompass physical, financial or (sometimes) mental injury.
- When your injuries are the direct result of a vehicle defect, your attorney may be able to file a claim against the manufacturer of your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, or the manufacturer of a specific vehicle part for manufacturer liability. You, as the plaintiff, must show the vehicle was being operated in the manner intended, the vehicle’s performance had not changed since it was acquired and that the defective vehicle or vehicle part was “unreasonably dangerous.” You may remember the claims filed against Firestone and Ford for the accidents which occurred in Ford Explorers with Firestone tires. Manufacturers of seat belts, tires, airbags, brakes, accelerators and engines have all been held responsible for a crash caused by an unreasonably dangerous part.
- Faulty road construction, road design or road maintenance may have been responsible for your car accident with injury. Some instances of faulty road design include embankments which are overly steep or improperly elevated as well as poorly designed or placed guard rails, barriers, speed bumps, medians or curves. Alterations in road surfaces or poor signage concerning approaching intersections, sharp turns and other road hazards can be responsible for serious accidents as can poor placement or lack of stop signs or stop lights. Overgrown trees or bushes which block the view of oncoming traffic can also be responsible for car crashes.
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Most Common Injuries Following a Florida Auto Accident
Head, neck and back injuries can be the most serious injuries sustained in an auto accident. Spinal cord damage can result in paralysis, while other injuries to the back and neck can lead to whiplash and chronic pain. Head injuries can be relatively minor, including contusions and a concussion, or can result in a traumatic brain injury. Although whiplash injuries are often given little creditability, in fact, they can be very serious, leading to damage in the neck muscles and ligaments, and causing chronic pain, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, confusion and delayed responsiveness. Other common car accident injuries include damage to the internal organs, broken bones and lacerations and injuries to the face and eyes.
Damages for Your Florida Auto Accident Injuries
Wrongful death damages can include economic, non-economic and punitive damages. If you are entitled to economic damages as a result of injury or death from your auto accident, those damages may include the following:
- Medical expenses;
- Future medical expenses;
- Lost wages, and
- Loss of future wages.
Non-economic damages can be much more difficult to prove, and can include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of consortium, and
- Punitive damages.
How a Knowledgeable Florida Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
The period of time following an auto accident can be extremely stressful, particularly if you sustained serious injury from the accident. It is important to speak to an experienced Florida auto accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. The Law Place attorneys have more than 75 years of combined experience, and are knowledgeable about all aspects of auto accidents. When you need an advocate in your corner, who will fight for your rights and for equitable compensation after your auto accident, call The Law Place at 941-444-4444. “We are here for you.”
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