After a car accident, you are likely feeling a wide range of emotions. You might feel scared, confused, or even angry. These are all-natural feelings. Motor vehicle accidents are unpredictable. They are something that every driver hopes they will never have to experience. Unfortunately, thousands of accidents happen every day.
In Florida, over 400,000 accidents were reported in one recent year. These accidents come in many forms and can lead to serious injuries. In 2018, Florida motor vehicle accidents led to over 250,000 injuries, killing 3,150 people.
Understanding the different types of accidents can help you understand the risks on the road and help prevent an accident. Some of the most common types of accidents in Florida include:
A rear-end accident occurs when one vehicle collides with the back end of another vehicle. The most common cause of these accidents is the trailing vehicle following too close. Determining fault in a rear-end accident is usually pretty straight-forward. Florida law requires all drivers to maintain a safe following distance between vehicles, following no closer than is “reasonable and prudent.” Specifically, the law states that it is unlawful to follow another vehicle within 300 feet. This means that the rear driver is usually at fault, even if the lead driver stopped suddenly and unexpectedly. Always allow plenty of room between you and the vehicle you are following. If you are driving and notice that someone is following too close, moving over and allowing them to pass can help keep you safe.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, sideswipe accidents accounted for 940 fatal accidents in 2016. A sideswipe accident occurs when the side of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. Sideswipe accidents involve vehicles traveling in the same direction. These accidents typically happen when one vehicle travels out of their lane and into the lane of another vehicle. This can happen when a driver drifts into another lane because they are not paying attention or are driving under the influence, or when a driver fails to check their blind spot before changing lanes. A sideswipe accident can also occur when a vehicle drives to close to cars parked on the side of the street.
Side-impact accidents are often referred to as t-bone accidents. This is because of the shape they form at the time of the collision. These accidents may also be referred to as a broadside accident. A t-bone accident occurs when the front end of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle. While airbags and crumple zones can help protect the driver of the vehicle whose front end took the impact of the crash, the same protection is not offered for the driver who was hit on the side.
Consequently, these accidents often lead to serious injuries or death. Side impact accidents accounted for 24 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2017. Most t-bone accidents occur at intersections and are most often the result of someone running a red light or stop sign. Because of this, you should always look both ways before crossing an intersection, even when you have the right of way.
Head-on collisions are one of the most dangerous types of accidents. These accidents occur when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide with one another, head-on. Head-on collisions often happen at high speeds, increasing the likelihood of serious injuries. Some of the most common causes of head-on collisions include:
- Wrong-way accidents: Wrong-way accidents happen when a driver goes against the legal flow of traffic. This may happen because the driver is intoxicated, confused, or did not see signs indicating a one-way street.
- Passing: Passing drivers in front of you can be dangerous, especially on two-lane roads. If a driver fails to see an oncoming vehicle or underestimates the amount of time it will take to pass, they can collide with oncoming traffic. When passing other vehicles always make sure the there are no oncoming cars and never pass in a no-passing zone, on a hill, or in areas of poor visibility.
- Driving under the influence: Alcohol and drugs can diminish a driver’s ability to properly control their car. An accident may occur when a drunk driver swerves into another lane or when they drive the wrong way.
Multi-car collisions involve more than two cars. This can happen when the impact of one accident moves the vehicles into the path of other vehicles when oncoming drivers do not see an accident, or as the result of a chain reaction. These accidents can be particularly deadly when a car(s) becomes pinned between other vehicles.
Single-car collisions only involve one vehicle. These accidents happen when the vehicle collides with another object or runs off the road. While accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists usually only involve one vehicle, these accidents are generally not referred to as single-car accidents. Some of the most common causes of these types of accidents include:
- The driver was driving too fast: High speed can decrease a driver’s control of a vehicle. While speeding is always dangerous, doing so around a curve, during inclement weather, or in the dark can increase the chances of being involved in an accident.
- Animals or other hazards in the roadway:
- Driving under the influence
Common Injuries After a Car Accident
Depending on the severity of the accident, resulting injuries can range from minor bumps and bruises to life-threatening injuries. Even accidents that appear to be minor can cause serious injuries. Additionally, while some injuries are immediately apparent, others may not present until days or weeks after the accident. This is why we always suggest being seen by a doctor after an accident. In Florida, your PIP insurance will only cover accident-related injuries if you seek medical care within 14 days of the accident. Common injuries after an accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Nearly 2 million traumatic brain injuries occur every year. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens as the result of a blow to the head or a penetrating injury. Traumatic brain injuries encompass a wide range of injuries and can range from a minor concussion to permanent brain damage. In many cases, symptoms of a TBI do not occur until several days after the accident. If you believe that you hit your head in an accident, it is always a good idea to be seen by a doctor. Symptoms to watch out for include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sensory issues.
- Broken bones: Our bones are designed to support our bodies, but they are not meant to sustain the traumatic force of an accident. Broken bones can be painful and in many cases will require surgery. A broken bone can lead to chronic pain and may affect your mobility or range of motion.
- Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord is the body’s primary messenger system. It delivers messages from the brain to the rest of the body. When the spinal cord is injured, it can have devastating consequences. Spinal cord injuries are often permanent. Signs of SCI include loss of movement, tingling, extreme pressure, or loss of bowel or bladder control.
- Lacerations: Flying objects and broken glass can cause cuts and scrapes during an accident. Minor lacerations may not require medical care and usually heal on their own. However, severe accidents can cause deep and painful wounds. These injuries may require stitches or even surgery. In many cases, these wounds will leave permanent scars.
- Burns: Burns can occur because of contact with a hot surface or as a result of chemical exposure. First degree burns are minor and may not leave a scar. Second-degree burns are more serious and can be very painful. These burns involve blisters and carry a higher risk of infection. Third-degree burns are the most serious type of burn and often require skin grafts and extensive recovery time. These burns usually affect the deeper layers of skin as well as the underlying bones and muscles.
- Whiplash: Whiplash is most commonly associated with rear-end accidents. The sudden force of the impact can cause the head to violently lash backward before moving forward. This can strain the neck and cause and be very painful. In many cases, whiplash will heal on its own within a couple of weeks. In some cases, whiplash may lead to herniated or bulging discs. These injuries may require pain medication, chiropractic care, and in some cases, surgery.
Regardless of what type of accident you are in, recovering from an accident can be a long and painful process. Money won’t take away the pain, but it can help alleviate some of the stress brought on by the accident. Common costs included after an auto accident include:
- Medical costs: Your personal PIP insurance will cover 80 percent of your first $10,000 of medical expenses. If you exhaust your PIP insurance, a personal injury attorney can offer a letter of protection to defer these bills until your legal case concludes. Medical costs include, but are not limited to, doctor visits, surgeries, prescription and over the counter medication, medical devices, physical therapy, and chiropractic care.
- Lost wages: Even minor injuries can result in lost time from work. This can have a serious impact on your finances. If you miss time at work because of injuries sustained in an accident, a personal injury claim can help you recover lost wages. Lost wages cover time missed as a direct result of the accident including doctor visits and recovery time.
- Pain and suffering: Not all injuries are visible. Sometimes some of the most painful injuries are the ones that no one else can see. In addition to physical pain, pain and suffering is designed to compensate you for the emotional trauma you may experience after an accident. This may include anxiety, depression, PTSD, loss of enjoyment, loss of companionship, or loss of consortium.
- Wrongful death: Nothing can take away the loss of a loved one. A wrongful death claim is designed to transfer the financial burden associated with your loss from the victim’s family to the guilty party. Expenses may include funeral costs, loss of earnings, and medical bills.
Injured in an Accident? Contact a Car Accident Attorney for More Information
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you may qualify for compensation. Dealing with a car accident can overwhelm you. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone, no matter what type of accident you were in. Contact a car crash attorney to help you secure a fair and just settlement.
About Jerry Jenkins
Jerry Jenkins began his career as a military policeman. It was during this time that began to learn about and develop an interest in the law. After graduating from Florida A&M Law School, he quickly landed a job as an assistant state attorney. As a native Florida resident, Jerry has extensive knowledge of the Florida legal system, and as a former prosecutor, he has seen various aspects of the Florida judicial system.