Your Comprehensive Guide to Automobile Accidents in Florida
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department (FLHSMV), there were more than 402,000 total crashes in the Sunshine State in 2018; more than 3,100 were fatal and nearly 255,000 resulted in injury. If that sounds like a lot, it is; the World Atlas ranks Florida as the number one state with the most car accidents.
We’ve put together this guide to help you understand the causes, common injuries, common misconceptions, and a few safety techniques with the goal of reducing those numbers in the coming years.
Top 10 Causes of Car Accidents
To prevent wrecks, it helps to know some of the common causes so you can be more aware of what you (and other drivers) are doing when on the road. The following are the top 10 causes of car accidents.
1. Cell phone use
Often coming under the umbrella term of “distracted driving,” cell phones are the leading factor in automobile accidents. Drivers are encouraged to get a hands-free speakerphone, and never text and drive (which is now punishable by fine since the passing of State Bill 76).
2. Adjusting the stereo
Many drivers are too worried about what they’re listening to and not attentive enough to the task at hand: safe driving.
We live incredibly busy lives, often with little perceived time to sit down and eat. While this is undeniable, it’s never safe. No one should lose their life while looking for a dropped McNugget.
Not only does rubbernecking create annoying traffic jams, it also leads to other accidents as drivers eyeing a wreck rear-end to those in front of them.
5. Drunk driving
Drunk driving is still the #1 cause of traffic fatalities according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The tragic fact about drunk driving is that it is completely preventable, especially in the age of Uber and Lyft. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve had too much to drink, and know the signs of impairment of others on the road.
6. Drug use
The cousin of drunk driving, laws have been expanded to cover any number of impairing drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications.
7. Drowsy Driving
A dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue, drowsy driving is a major problem in the United States, and an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.
8. Speeding & Reckless Driving
It’s best to always obey speed limits (and don’t drive under them—this is also known to cause car accidents) and never display a wanton disregard for the rule of the road (also known as reckless driving).
Due to truck traffic, construction cones, machinery, and decaying ground, roadways under repair are much more dangerous than other areas so always use precaution.
There’s nothing you can do about Mother Nature, but avoid driving in inclement conditions if possible and pull safely to the side of the road if you need to. Downpour? Florida drivers, keep those hazard lights off while you’re driving—it’s the law!
Top 5 Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
A car accident, even a seemingly minor one, wreak havoc on the body. In fact, they are the leading cause of all injuries in the United States. Some injuries from car accidents are more common than others, and so we’ve put together a short guide below.
1. Head injuries
The most dangerous injuries we see are those to the head because it houses our most vital organ: the brain. Brain injuries can permanently impair your motor skills and bodily functions—even leaving you paralyzed. They can be caused by skull fractures, hematoma (bruising on the brain) and nerve damage. These injuries can cause long-term conditions such as seizures, memory loss, depression, and anxiety. After an accident, you should always get a CT scan or an MRI to properly diagnose a brain injury.
2. Neck Injuries
Common injuries from vehicular accidents that can cause permanent and long-term damage are neck injuries such as whiplash, slipped/herniated discs and TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint injury. TMJ affects your jawbones and can cause permanent difficulty in eating and speech.
3. Back Injuries
Back injuries and injuries to cervical discs are also very common in car injuries. With so many nerves and vertebrae in your back, any collision can cause severe damage. An injury to your back can cause permanent and long-term damage to almost every other part of your body—even paralysis.
4. Internal organs
All internal organs are incredibly susceptible to injury in a vehicular accident. Whenever you have an extreme impact on your rib cage and sternum, your organs are at risk of being punctured, bruised, or worse. Some of the most common injuries from car accidents include the heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, liver, and intestines.
5. Broken bones and injured joints
Broken bones, sprains, and other joint injuries can cause lasting damage. Broken arms, legs, and hips; sprained wrists, knees, and ankles; and dislocated or fractured shoulders,hands, and feet bones are all very common. Make sure that if you're in an accident that you get x-rays from the hospital and that you receive the proper treatment.
Top 7 Common Misconceptions About Car Accidents
The aftermath of an auto accident is stressful, confusing, and above all, very sensitive. This is probably the worst time to make a mistake, yet still, so many people do. Here, we have listed the seven most common misconceptions people have about automobile accidents and how to properly deal with them.
1. Compensation is guaranteed
Often, auto accident victims will seek compensation after their accident, no matter the severity of the damages resulting from their accident. Countless factors come into play with regard to accident compensation, made more complex considering that each and every accident case is unique. Many accident victims find that compensation and legal cases take much longer than anticipated. Any involved insurance companies, who evaluate your damage and injury claims with intense scrutiny, only complicate legal claims further, and can take weeks, if not months, to validate your accident claim.
Additionally, not all automobile accidents will require legal action. Fortunately for accident victims, most auto accident attorneys offer free initial consultations, and case reviews, for any who want to gauge their case’s potential.
2. A police report is enough
Also a common mistake, many accident victims assume that the official police report will be all that they will need in court to support their case. While these reports cover the “basics” after an accident (general information such as driver names, vehicle makes and models, and accident time and location), much other vital information is left off these reports, such as:
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Specific damage to vehicles
- Damage to outside fixtures and structures
- Traffic conditions
If you’re able, be sure to note this information for yourself, and use your mobile device to safely take photos or record the scene.
3. Professional representation for your case isn’t needed
This is probably the greatest mistake you can make regarding your accident case. These professionals can guide you through the entire recovery process, and help you get the representation you need in court. Too often, accident victims in the right lose their cases, and financial reward, through poor self-representation. Don’t make this common mistake! Be sure to contact an appropriate personal injury or auto accident attorney immediately after an accident.
4. Fault is always clear in a rear-end collision
Most often, fault in a rear-end auto collision is automatically attributed to the driver in the rear, who hit the car in front of them. However, this is not always the case. Similar to any other kind of auto accident, everything can change under certain conditions, or if drivers were exhibiting certain behaviors.
For instance, you will likely not be found at fault if you rear-end a driver that merged into your lane unsafely, cut you off, or slammed on their brakes unexpectedly. Drivers that rear-end vehicles unsafely pulling out of driveways, or vehicles driving carelessly in reverse can challenge their accident fault. Every rear-end collision case is different. If you rear-end another vehicle, and feel you are being unfairly attributed fault, contact a professional auto accident attorney right away.
5. The functionality of the “black box”
It’s important to understand that your automobile’s “black box” does not function the same as a commercial airplane’s equipment, as widely believed. Your vehicle’s black box (mandatory in all new vehicles produced after 2014) is not foolproof, and there are no government-regulated performance standards for these logging machines and automobile black box accuracy is imperfect. These boxes record less than you may think about your vehicle prior to an accident, and can be dismissible in court. Typically, they only record:
- Automobile speed
- Brake application
- Engine performance
- Seatbelt use
Black boxes do not paint as thorough a picture as you may imagine. In most cases, it’s better to seek an experienced auto accident attorney to fight for your case, rather than a car performance log.
6. Getting professional representation is expensive
Contrary to popular belief, finding a professional and compassionate auto accident attorney does not have to be expensive. Most auto attorneys receive their pay through contingency, which means they do not get paid unless you do, taking a percentage of your compensation and rewards. If an auto accident attorney demands upfront pay or is unwilling to consider other payment options more beneficial to you, it’s best to try another attorney.
7. Any attorney will do
Not all auto accident attorneys are alike. Some will focus on personal injuries, while others will focus on victims of negligence or motorcycle accidents. It’s critical for you to evaluate your potential attorney’s settlement and case history, as well as educational background, and predict how well their experience aligns with your accident situation. An effective auto accident attorney will treat your case as if it were their sole responsibility, and use their experiences combined with an extensive knowledge of the law to get you the compensation you need following an auto accident.
Want to learn more about mistakes people make in the aftermath of an accident? Read our story 10 Mistakes People Make Following an Auto Accident.
Top 3 Safe Parking Techniques Help Drivers Avoid Accidents
We talk a lot about the most common types of car accidents, from tailgating to T-boning. However, it may surprise you to know that a staggering one of every five motor vehicle accidents takes place in a parking lot! One of the major reasons behind collisions, injuries, and fatalities that happen in parking lots is the false sense of security motorists and pedestrians feel. So, here are three ways to park safely.
Parallel parking spaces are a common sight throughout Florida. For some people, parallel parking can be one of the toughest tasks for a motorist to successfully complete. These helpful tips can provide a safe way for a motorist to successfully parallel park their vehicle in Spring Hill:
- Make sure the space is five feet longer than the car itself, to ensure that there is enough room for your vehicle.
- Turn on your turn signal in the direction of the parking space you intend to use. This way you can indicate to other traffic that you intend to reverse into the space.
- Position your vehicle so that it is parallel with the vehicle that is in front of the empty space. Shift into reverse and begin moving into this space, looking over your shoulder as you are backing in.
- As the front of your vehicle passes the front door of the vehicle beside you, turn your wheels sharply away from the curb as you back in. As your rear wheel nears the curb, turn the wheels sharply towards the curb until the wheels are parallel with the curb.
- Pull forward and straighten out as necessary, centering your vehicle inside of the parking space.
As you exit the vehicle, always be mindful of oncoming traffic. Look behind you or use your driver’s side mirrors to check for oncoming traffic before opening your door.
Angled parking spaces are common in many commercial parking lots throughout Florida. The slots are designed to accept vehicles parking in one direction. While angled spaces make it much easier to park thanks to a lower degree of turning required, the spaces can only be approached in one direction, making it very hard for motorists who are traveling the wrong way to successfully enter the spaces. There are several tips that can make angled parking spaces in Spring Hill even easier to deal with:
- Always maintain a safe distance from parked cars. This makes it easier for drivers to spot open spaces and prepare for parking.
- Always be alert for other drivers who are backing out of their spaces.
- Use your turn signals to indicate the direction you are turning when entering an angled parking space.
Perpendicular parking involves pulling into a parking space that is in a 90-degree angle to the curb or building, or in other words, perpendicular to the traffic lane. Perpendicular parking is somewhat similar to angled parking, except that there is a greater degree of turning involved thanks to the 90-degree placement. The key to perpendicular parking is setting up the turn so that you enter the parking space with your wheels straight and the vehicle centered within the space. It is always important to leave plenty of space between other vehicles while parking, to lessen the chance of striking another vehicle with your door as you exit the vehicle
The Ugly Truth About Car Accidents
It’s common for people injured in car, motorcycle, or truck crashes to refer to the event as an “accident,” and truthfully that’s probably a very accurate description. Most people don’t travel the road intending to crash into another driver. However, intent is not required and very seldom relevant in determining who is responsible for the crash. In Florida, you do not have to intend to cause the accident to be legally liable for injuries caused. Legal responsibility lies with the negligent party.
All too often a driver is negligent in causing a crash because they were distracted from their primary responsibility of operating their vehicle and this distraction places the driver and all other people on the road in great danger. These distractions often arise from the driver failing to keep their eyes and attention to the road because of mobile devices, cell phones, texting, etc. In fact, the NHTSA reports that distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,166 people in 2017 alone.
Ready to File a Claim?
After an accident occurs, there’s a particular order of operations that should be followed.
- Call the police.
- Exchange information with the other driver.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and damage.
- Contact your insurance company.
Reporting the incident as soon as possible is essential to preserving evidence. Waiting too long can give the driver at fault time to make repairs or change what would otherwise provide proof of their negligence. When you call your insurance provider, you’ll need to have information about the other driver, any damages, injuries, and witnesses present. They’ll likely walk you through assessing the vehicle’s damage, towing it if necessary, and receiving a rental car.
Keep a detailed record of the accident and how it came about, keeping the sequence of events as accurate as possible. The police report should be kept as a reference as well.
Unfortunately, accidents happen and navigating accident claim laws can be intimidating. Being aware of timelines should help you prioritize the steps you take following a crash. Just be sure you don’t go a day past applicable deadlines, or you run the risk of being denied a claim or compensation. Our attorneys at Lowman Law Firm can consult you on your best move after a car accident and help keep you on track to meet those deadlines.
Lowman Law Firm Encourages Safe, Mindful Driving
If you have been involved in an automobile accident, do not hesitate to contact Lowman Law Firm for a free consultation today. We specialize in each of the following and are ready to serve you.
- Hit and Run Injuries
- Rear-end Collisions
- Head-on Collisions
- Passenger Injuries
- Driver Injuries
- Intersection Accidents
- Highway Collisions
- Car versus Motorcycle
- Car versus Truck