Monday, June 19, 2017

Florida Motor Vehicle Crashes do not Always Involve Two Cars

Did you know that, in Florida, a “motor vehicle” is defined as an automobile, motorcycle, truck, semi-truck, tractor-trailer or any vehicle used to transport persons or property in the state that is propelled by power? Although the majority of Florida car accidents involved two automobiles, Florida personal injury and motor vehicle laws cover more than simply car v. car accidents. Truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian knockdown accidents are also common occurrences in Florida, especially during tourist seasons.

Because trucks, semi-trucks, and tractor-trailers are among the largest vehicles permitted on Florida roads, truck v. car or truck v. motorcycle accidents are among the most fatal in Florida. This is because trucks weigh 20-30 times more than traditional motor vehicles and have greater ground clearance. This means that smaller cars cannot only get caught under trucks but they will take the brunt impact of the force of the crash.

Further, it is reported that semi-trailers with a full load take 20-40% more time to stop than motorcycles or traditional motor vehicles. This means that truck drivers need to keep a greater than recommended distance between themselves and the vehicles ahead of them - especially when roads are wet. However, in heavy traffic conditions, this is often not the case and it is rare to see a truck with a 200-foot clearance between itself and the nearest vehicle. Unfortunately, of the approximately 4,000 people who die each year as the result of a truck crash, nearly 70% of those killed were not truck occupants.

Pedestrian v. Motor Vehicle Accidents

Pedestrian “knock down” accidents occur when a motor vehicle, such as a car, truck, or motorcycle, impacts a pedestrian, i.e., walker, runner, or shopper. The following are common types of pedestrian accidents in Florida:

  • Crosswalk Accidents: Occur when a pedestrian is legally in a crosswalk at the time of the accident and a vehicle fails to give pedestrians the right-of-way, striking them within the crosswalk. This commonly occurs when a vehicle is making a right on red over a crosswalk or has a green light and does not understand that the pedestrians also have a right-of-way.
  • Back-Over Accidents: Occur when a vehicle is backing up, such as pulling into or out of a parking space, and strikes a pedestrian while in reverse. Back-over accidents are common in parking lots when cars may be blocking a driver’s view to the left or right and shoppers are quickly and consistently crossing the path of parked vehicles;
  • Speeding/Loss of Control Accidents: This type of accident includes sideswiping a pedestrian on a sidewalk or hitting a pedestrian after the loss of control of a vehicle. Many times, such accidents can result in a pedestrian being “run over” and trapped under the vehicle or crushed between the vehicle and a stationary object, such as a building. These accidents are some of the most dangerous to the life and health of pedestrians because they can be high-speed collisions.

Drivers often panic after a pedestrian accident as they know even a slight impact can result in severe injuries to the pedestrian, especially if the pedestrian falls backward and is unable to break his fall with his arms. This may result in traumatic brain injury or even death, as even the slow moving force of a three-ton vehicle is enough to cause severe injuries due to the transfer of force from the car to the pedestrian. Florida law requires the driver of a vehicle to remain at the scene of the crash if he or she has caused personal injuries to a pedestrian. Failure to do so is considered a hit-and-run, and it is a felony in Florida.

Motorcycle accidents, especially involving untrained riders, are also some of the most deadly traffic accidents, as riders are not afforded the same protection as those in a traditional motor vehicle. If a rider is impacted and caused to fall off her bike, then she is at the mercy of the open road.

Florida law grants motorcyclists the same right to use public roads and highways as drivers of traditional motor vehicles, but riders may not overtake and pass a vehicle when it is in the same lane occupied by that vehicle, they may not operate between lanes of traffic, and they may not operate side-by-side in the same lane. Drivers will not be expecting this traffic-defying behavior, and even if the motorcyclists himself is not injured, it may frighten and distract other drivers on the road, causing a chain reaction accident. It is important that riders take the time to learn the Florida rules of the road, purchase the correct safety gear, and take extra safety training, as 90 percent of riders involved in motorcycle accidents have not taken specialized motorcycle training courses.

Florida Bicyclists and Sharing the Road

Generally, Florida bicyclists are entitled to the same rights on roadways as traditional motor vehicles and must obey the same traffic laws. Some drivers, however, get nervous when driving next to or passing a bicyclist, and this anxiety can in itself cause a motor vehicle accident. Similar to pedestrian accidents, because motor vehicles drastically outweigh bicycles, the cyclists will take the brunt force of the impact even if the cyclist is traveling faster than the vehicle itself. This can cause serious, if not fatal injuries to a rider.

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney Today to Assert your Rights to the Road

With more vehicles taking to Florida roads each year, it is important to know your rights as a pedestrian, rider, or cyclist if you are involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. You are entitled to coverage for your medical bills from the driver’s no-fault policy, and you are entitled to the same compensation as another driver would be. As long as you were following recommended safety protocols, the court cannot penalize you for choosing your vehicle. If you have been injured in an accident, the Dolman Law Group can help fight for your rights. They are your premier personal injuries lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area no matter what type of accident you were involved in. Call them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.