Florida Car Accidents
Those who have been involved in a car accident are well aware of the many issues accompanying such an accident. Injuries must be dealt with, medical expenses paid, insurance companies dealt with and damages to vehicles repaired. For many, it is even worse, particularly if they are injured badly enough to be unable to work for a period of time—or permanently. Being unable to work, especially those who are the family’s primary breadwinner, can be a frightening experience.
You may wonder how your regular monthly expenses will be taken care of, how you will continue to pay your medical expenses, and if you will ever be able to return to your “normal” day-to-day activities and get back to work. You may feel frustrated when the insurance company offers you a very low settlement and even angry at the negligent driver who put you in this position. If you find injured through no fault of your own and unable to pay your expenses after a South Florida car accident, you need solid legal assistance. The law firm of Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti has the experience and knowledge necessary to help you through this difficult time. Our firm has represented clients throughout Florida as well as nationally since 1973 and have had cases featured in such publications as the Miami Herald and The New York Times, as well as syndicated television and radio.
Florida accident statistics
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2017 there were 402,385 automobile accidents in the state of Florida (1098 per day, on average), up from 395,785 in 2016. Of those automobile accidents, there were 3,116 fatalities and 254,310 injuries. Of those 254,310 injuries resulting from auto accidents in 2017, 20,380 were incapacitating injuries—injuries which could lead to lifelong medical issues and the inability to return to work. Alcohol and drugs were certainly a factor in these Florida car accidents, with 5,125 alcohol-related collisions and 668 drug-related collisions. Motorcyclists fared even worse (considering there are far fewer motorcycles on the roads in Florida than vehicles) with 9,707 motorcycle crashes in 2017 and 515 motorcycle fatalities. There were also 659 pedestrian fatalities resulting from an auto accident and 128 bicyclist fatalities.
Key West Accident Statistics
The same report found that Monroe County residents were involved in 1,255 auto accidents in 2017 with 18 fatalities and 650 injuries. A 2017 article in the Miami New Times reported that U.S. 1, the north-south artery between Miami and the Keys was the deadliest highway in the nation. In fact, the auto accident fatality rate on this stretch of highway easily passed the second-place highway, U.S. 83 in Texas, and the third deadliest roadway, a short stretch on I-40 in California.
Where are most Key West car accidents?
City Data found that the fatal auto accidents which occurred in Key West in 2017 occurred at the following locations:
- White and United Street
- Truman Avenue
- First Street
- S. 1
- S. 1 and Searstown
- Two on Roosevelt Avenue
Miami Accident Statistics
The report found that residents of Miami-Dade County experienced 65,986 total automobile crashes in 2017, with 285 fatalities from those crashes and 32,389 injuries. While Miami has many of the same contributing issues to car accidents that any large city has, such as excess speed, drivers ignoring traffic signs and distracted drivers, Miami also has many areas with poor road conditions. Those road conditions include older roads which need repair and/or repainting of stripes or confusing detours thanks to roads under construction. When you add in the high population of Miami-Dade County, it is no surprise that the county leads the state of Florida for number of car accidents.
Where are most Miami car accidents?
A 2016 Miami New Times article listed the ten most dangerous intersections in the Miami/South Florida area. Those intersections included:
- NE Second Avenue and 36th Street in Midtown Miami
- SW 117th Avenue and Kendall Drive
- South Dixie Highway at every intersection south of I-95
- SW 117th Avenue and 152nd Street
- A1A and Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale
- Alton Road and Dade Blvd.
- NW 87th and 36th Street
- The Brickell Avenue Bridge
- NE First Avenue and NE Sixth Street
- Pines Blvd. and South Flamingo Road
Causes of Key West and Miami Car Accidents
Of course, every car accident is unique, however there are certain factors which are often a part of a Key West car accident, a Miami car accident, or any car accident across the nation. The most common causes of car accidents include the following:
- Distracted Driving—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2017 distracted driving claimed an estimated 3,166 lives. The reason this number is “estimated” is because following an auto accident few people want to admit they were talking on the phone, texting, or engaging in some other form of distracted driving. As a nation, distracted driving is at an all-time high. Our society tends to believe multi-tasking is a good thing, therefore we have few second thoughts about eating an entire meal while changing radio stations and answering the cell phone when it rings—all while driving in heavy traffic. There are other forms of distraction commonly seen among drivers, such as trying to key in an address on a GPS device, texting, posting to social media, turning around to see what the children are doing in the back seat, talking to passengers, and, even thinking about what you will do when you get home instead of keeping your mind on the road and the other drivers. Having children in a vehicle is—according to more than one study—particularly dangerous. ABC News reported that Australian researchers found children in the car to be 12 times as distracting to the driver than talking on a cell phone and that the average parent routinely takes their eyes off the road for a frightening 3 minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip. Babies are considered eight times as distracting to drivers than adult passengers, since parents—even those driving—do not think twice about turning around to pick up a dropped bottle or toy or check on a fussy baby.
- Speeding—According to the Institute of Insurance Safety speeding is a common factor in car accidents, and even when there is a primary cause of a car accident, excess speed is often a secondary cause. Between 2006 and 2015, the Institute estimated that at least 108,554 car accidents were the result of speeding. Overall, the agency estimates that almost a third of all car accidents involve excess speed. Further, of the approximate 10,000 speed-related car accident deaths in 2015, almost half occurred on roadways with a speed limit higher than 55 mph.
- Reckless Driving—Reckless driving occurs when a driver shows indifference to the safety of others. In some states, certain violations are considered inherently reckless (racing, passing on a blind curve, swerving in and out of traffic, passing a stopped school bus, excessive speed (particularly in a school zone or construction zone) and driving around railroad crossing arms. In the state of Florida, fleeing from the police is also considered reckless driving. Careless driving lacks the deliberate behavior of reckless driving, and more often simply means the driver was not properly paying attention and crossed the center line, followed too closely or committed another similar traffic offense.
- Running Red Lights—The S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration found running red lights to be a serious safety issue, with resulting crashes killing hundreds of people in the United States each year. In fact, out of the 32,675 traffic fatalities in 2014 across the nation, 8,661 were intersection fatalities, and 710 of the fatalities were the direct result of a driver running a red light.
- Running Stop Signs—Like running red lights, running stop lights is extremely dangerous and is a factor in auto accidents. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that one-third of all intersection collisions in the U.S.—and more than 40 percent of the fatal intersection collisions—occurred at intersections controlled by stop signs. Many drivers did stop, but somehow failed to see another vehicle—or believed they had the right-of-way—with nearly two-thirds stopping at the stop sign immediately prior to the accident. Only 17 percent of the stop sign intersection collisions involved drivers who admitted they did not stop, driving right through the stop sign.
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol—The Institute of Insurance Safety concluded that at least 28 people die due to impaired driving each day in the U.S.—one death every 53 minutes. Drinking alcohol can severely impair our judgment as well as our reflexes and cognitive abilities, making it extremely dangerous to get behind the wheel. Most of those who are impaired believe their faculties and driving skills are intact, even when they are significantly “off.”
- Poor Weather Conditions—Weather can be a significant factor in car accidents, particularly when drivers end up in inclement weather which they are unaccustomed to driving in—such as a driver from South Florida going to Colorado for the winter holidays. Drivers should always give themselves extra time to get where they are going and should slow down in inclement weather. The S. DOT collects data on weather conditions and car accidents, including the following:
- Rain—Rain causes more car accidents than any other type of inclement weather, being responsible for 46 percent of all weather-related crashes. Many drivers fail to take the slick roads into account, driving in their normal manner at their normal speed.
- Snow—Snow causes about 18 percent of all weather-related car collisions. People tend to slow down to some extent during a snowstorm but may not have the skills necessary to keep from sliding into another car.
- Ice—Icy roads are usually more unexpected than any other type of inclement weather, causing 13 percent of all weather-related car collisions. Most drivers have no experience driving on ice, therefore the incidence of car accidents go up when the roads turn icy.
- Fog—Fog can affect visibility distance, traffic speed, the capabilities and behaviors of all drivers and requires reducing speed and being extra cautious. There is a significant increase in car accidents during heavy fog with this type of inclement weather causing about 3 percent of all weather-related car collisions.
- Falling Asleep at the Wheel—The Institute of Insurance Safety found that driving while fatigued may seem relatively harmless, but, in fact, can be quite deadly. Between 2005 and 2009, drowsy driving accounted for about 1.4 percent of all car collisions, or about 83,000 accidents per year. In those same years, 1,004 people died each year as a result of a drowsy driving car accident.
- Driving at Night—The National Safety Council found that the risk of a fatal crash is a whopping three times as great at night than during the daylight hours. Even when high-beam headlights are being used, visibility at night is limited to about 500 ft (or 250 feet for headlights on low), which results in considerably less time to react to something on the roadway. As we age, we have even greater difficulty seeing at night—on average, a 50-year-old driver needs as much as twice the light to see as well as a 30-year-old, and after sixty, night vision becomes even worse.
Common Types of Car Accidents
There are many different types of car accidents and while some are typically more dangerous than others, in some instances, even a low-speed rear-end collisions can result in very serious injuries. The most common types of car accidents include:
- Rollover Accident—Vehicles, particularly SUVs and passenger vans with a high center of gravity, can roll over, causing serious or fatal injuries. A rollover accident often results in a passenger being ejected from the vehicle (particularly when seat belts are not worn) or the car’s roof collapsing onto those inside the vehicle. The majority of rollover vehicles occur when a curve is taken too quickly, and typically, involve only one vehicle.
- Single-Car Accident—A single-car accident typically involves driver error, although could also be the result of an animal running in front of the vehicle or another type of hazard in the roadway which causes the driver to swerve. Single-car accidents can sometimes involve alcohol or drugs; because insurance companies tend to be suspicious of single-car accidents, those involved in such an accident should carefully document the circumstances of the accident.
- Rear-End Collision—Rear-end collisions are usually caused by “tailgating” or following too closely but can also be caused by distracted driving and excessive speed—or a combination of these. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of accident and often result in neck injuries such as whiplash.
- Side-Impact Collision—Side-impact collisions occur when one car hits the side of another. These collisions are also sometimes known as “t-bone” or “broadside” car accidents. Side-impact collisions are often caused when a driver runs a red light, hitting another car squarely on one side. Side-impact collisions are the deadliest type of collision for children who are usually in the back seat, particularly when there are no side-curtain airbags.
- Head-On Collision—A head-on collision usually occurs when one car crosses the center line, colliding with an oncoming car, front-to-front. Because head-on collisions usually occur at high rates of speed, they can be deadly. The driver who crosses the center line may do so because he or she fell asleep, was distracted, was being careless or was impaired. Whatever the cause, head-on collisions often cause serious, even catastrophic injuries.
- Intersection Accidents—Intersections could be the primary place where auto collisions occur in the United States—in fact, the NHTSA reports that as many as 40 percent of all auto accidents in the U.S. occur at an intersection. Many intersection accidents are entirely preventable as they result from bad decisions made by careless—or even reckless drivers.
Accidents Involving Pedestrians
A 2019 article in the Miami Herald found that in the state of Florida, walking could be hazardous to your health. In fact, nine of the 20 deadliest U.S. cities for pedestrians are in the state of Florida, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area coming in at number 14th on the list for most dangerous cities in the U.S. for pedestrians. Across the United States, nearly 50,000 pedestrians were killed in auto accidents between 2008 and 2017, which equals one person killed every hour and 46 minutes. This is particularly disturbing because traffic fatalities for motor vehicle occupants during that same time period actually decreased 6.1 percent, yet pedestrian deaths have been steadily increasing since 2009.
In the Sunshine state alone, there were 5,433 pedestrian deaths during this ten-year span, or an annual average of 2.73 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people—compared to a national annual average of 1.55 pedestrian deaths per 100,000. Many wonder why the state of Florida continues to see more and more pedestrian deaths, with one expert stating that overall, those in the state are not walking more, however the streets in Florida, originally designed for vehicle movement, are, in fact, dangerous to pedestrians. Sprawling growth patterns in the Sun Belt led to “wider roads, longer blocks and street engineering which prioritized high speeds for cars over safety for people on foot, on bikes or using mass transit.” Pedestrian deaths are especially high in the state for the elderly, minorities and people walking in poor communities.
Accidents Involving Bicycles
Bicyclists in the Sunshine State do not fare any better than pedestrians, with the Orlando Sentinel headlining “Florida is a killing field for cyclists.” The 2018 article reports that bicyclists are more likely to be killed in Florida than in any other state and that it dominates the rankings for most dangerous cities for cyclists with a per-capita cyclist death rate which is 60 percent higher than the next-closest state. Florida, California and Texas actually account for 40 percent of cyclist deaths across the United States, even though only 27 percent of the population live in these three states.
It is believed that the high number of cyclist deaths in the state are a result of elderly drivers, a relatively densely-packed population, and hordes of tourists, unfamiliar with the roads. Alcohol also plays a part in Florida’s bicycle accident rates; in 2015, 22 percent of fatally injured cyclists and 12 percent of drivers in those crashes had BAC levels of at least 0.08 percent (the legal limit). Distracted drivers are also a growing threat to bicyclists, particularly drivers who are texting rather than watching the road.
Accidents in Uber, Lyft or Other Ride Share Services
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are more popular than ever, particularly in larger cities. You may wonder what you should do if your rideshare driver is involved in a car accident in Miami or Key West, and you are left with injuries. Rideshare drivers are required to carry more PIP insurance and property damage liability than other drivers—at least $1 million in liability coverage for property damage, physical injury and death, plus the PIP insurance minimums which apply to all Florida drivers and $50,000 in physical injury or death liability coverage. Rideshare companies may also provide insurance policies for their drivers. If your injures are serious, costing more than $10,000, you are allowed to bring a claim for full compensation against the negligent driver. This is certainly a situation which would benefit from speaking to an experienced Key West or Miami car accident attorney.
Florida Car Accidents and Insurance
Insurance is always a consideration following a Florida car accident. You can only hope that the negligent driver who hit you has auto insurance, and that your medical expenses, lost wages and other damages will be fully covered.
- Car Accidents with No Insurance—The Insurance Journal found that Florida ranks number one in the United States for the most uninsured motorists with 26.7 percent of Florida residents having no auto insurance. When an uninsured driver is at fault, insured drivers or their insurance companies are left to pay for the resulting physical damage, medical expenses and other costs. In the same vein, an underinsured motorist might not have sufficient insurance to pay for injuries and damages he or she is responsible for.
- Car Accidents and Insurance Claims—Florida law requires every driver to have $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage. This means if you are involved in a car accident, your own insurance company will pay PIP benefits no matter who was at fault for the accident, paying 60 percent of your total lost wages and 80 percent of your medical bills, minus your deductible. If your injuries are significant, and your medical expenses and lost wages will cost much more than $10,000, then you can speak to a Florida personal injury attorney regarding filing a personal injury claim for your injuries and other damages.
What to Do After a Miami Car Accident
If you have been involved in a Miami or Key West car accident, never leave the scene of the accident however do make sure all people involved are out of the way of traffic to avoid another accident. Turn on flashers or set up flares, call the police, then wait by the side of the road until the police arrive—if you are physically able to do so. Do not offer any speculation or guesses about how the accident happened—just relate the facts to the police officer.
If you are able, take photographs of the scene of the accident, the vehicles involved, and any surrounding scenes which could help explain the cause of the accident. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, then seek medical attention—even if you believe you are “fine.” Report the accident to your insurance company, keep a comprehensive file on all the details of the accident, and protect your rights by consulting a North Miami Beach car accident attorney as quickly as possible.
How to Be a Defensive Driver in Key West and Miami and Avoid Car Accidents
Because the streets of Key West and Miami are always busy, it is imperative that you drive defensively. Driving defensively means never allowing yourself to become distracted, particularly from using a cell phone. Be alert to what other drivers around you are doing, and what is happening a few cars ahead of you, and you could potentially avoid a serious car accident.
How a Miami/Key West Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
If you have been involved in a Miami or Key West car accident, the attorneys of Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti can help you put your life back together. We understand how stressful a car accident can be and have 80 years of collective experience to help you get through this difficult time. At Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, we take care of the legal aspect of your car accident, working hard to ensure you receive a fair settlement, while you are given the time you need to heal from your injuries. Unlike many firms, while we are expert negotiators, we are also aggressive litigators who never hesitate to step into a courtroom and defend you in the most uncompromising manner. Contact Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti today for a comprehensive consultation following your North Miami Beach or Key West car accident.