Whether you’re headed into or out of Fort Lauderdale on I-95, trying to get south of the city on Alligator Alley, or traveling one of the other busy roadways in the area, you will encounter not only speeding drivers but also the accident scenes they leave behind.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is a major cause of accidents, injuries, and fatalities across the U.S., and a factor in more than a quarter of all fatal accidents.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident that a speeding driver caused, the experienced accident attorneys at The Levin Firm have one goal: to recover the maximum amount of compensation in your case, whether through a negotiated settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company or litigation.
Our satisfied clients frequently mention our responsiveness to their needs, our ability to take quick action, and our willingness to fight on their behalf. Let us explore your legal options for pursuing compensation after your speeding accident through a free case evaluation.
Why Speeding Results in so Many Fatalities
Broward County sees a lot of serious crashes—over 34,000 of them in one year. Those crashes result in thousands of injuries and more than 200 deaths. Speeding is one of the most common factors that result in fatal accidents.
The reasons have a lot to do with driver attitudes about speeding and the extraordinary increase in crash severity it brings about. Regional and roadway characteristics can increase the risk of speeding accidents.
For example, in Fort Lauderdale, as a driver, you are more likely to face heavy congestion from the tourist traffic and frequent construction on the Florida Turnpike, which can present additional hazards, including workers in the work zone and temporary road alignments that can surprise a speeding or distracted driver.
Driver Attitudes About Speeding
According to studies on driver behavior, speeding is among the most frequent types of risky driving behavior to occur, with about three-quarters of drivers confessing to driving over the speed limit on all types of roadways at least once each month.
NHTSA reports that the most common roadways for speeding were multi-lane highways, where 78 percent of survey respondents stated they had driven faster than the posted speed limit or faster than a safe speed in light of the traffic and weather conditions. A quarter of survey respondents confessed to speeding on the highway on the very day they responded to the survey.
While most drivers admit to speeding from time to time, young drivers speed more often, self-reporting at least eight speeding instances on each road type in a month.
Young male drivers statistically are most likely to experience a speed-related fatal accident. Nearly one-third of all male drivers between the age of 15 and 20 who were in fatal accidents were speeding.
Males are about 50 percent more likely to speed than female drivers are.
- 53 percent of survey respondents stated that they often get irritated with slower drivers on the roadway.
- Fewer than half of all drivers worry that their driving habits will cause a speed-related crash.
- 34 percent of survey respondents noted that they enjoy the feeling of driving fast, and nearly a third stated that they like to get where they’re going as fast as they can and that they feel more alert and in-tune to what is going on around them when they are traveling fast.
Safety Concerns With Speeding
Speeding causes problems that, when combined, bring context to the high number of fatalities resulting from speed-related accidents.
Those issues include:
- A reduction in the driver’s ability to control the vehicle.
- A reduction in the time the driver needs to perceive a danger on the roadway and react to it by braking.
- An increase in the distance the brakes need to pull the car to a safe, complete stop. Other factors also increase the distance a vehicle needs to stop, including wet roadways and heavy vehicles.
- A reduction in the effectiveness of the vehicle’s safety features, such as its steel frame, airbags, and seat belts.
- An increase in crash severity.
Speeding all on its own is incredibly risky due to the factors above. However, often speeding isn’t the only factor in the accident.
For example, alcohol impairment is strongly tied to speeding, as impairment creates deficits in the skills a driver needs to operate his or her motor vehicle safely, including difficulty in maintaining a safe driving speed and exercising good judgment.
Young drivers likely see more fatal speed-related crashes due to inexperience with providing a safe and proper response in emergency driving situations. Speeding drivers are also more likely to take other safety risks, such as driving without a seat belt.
The NHTSA notes that 11 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents are both speeding and not helmeted at the time of the crash, while 8 percent of the drivers of passenger cars involved in fatal accidents were both speeding and unrestrained.
While 38 percent of drivers said they would likely still speed if the limit on a highway was increased by 10 miles per hour, and a quarter of respondents said that they would likely still speed with a 10 miles per hour increase on other types of roadways, 68 percent of the drivers stated that they feel others speeding on the roadway is a threat to their safety. Older drivers note the threat posed by other drivers more often.
The Injuries Caused in Speed-Related Accidents
As previously mentioned, speeding generally increases the severity of the crash, which results in more serious injuries and an even greater risk of death.
The types of injuries associated with speed-related accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, which result from a blow to the head or body that damages the brain. Despite its importance to the body—controlling virtually all of the body’s functions and involuntary responses—the brain has only a limited ability to heal from injury. Because of this, traumatic brain injuries often result in permanent deficits that can greatly impact the individual’s ability to work, complete his or her education, and participate in social and community activities. These deficits can include memory loss; inability to control one’s emotions, behaviors, or impulses; difficulty with speaking or understanding spoken language; and difficulty with balanced, coordinated movement.
- Spinal cord injuries, which damage the nerves that extend from the base of the skull to the waist. Like the brain, the spinal cord controls the body’s functions and has a limited ability to heal from injury. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis, which is the loss of sensation or function below the injury site.
- Other back and neck issues, including whiplash, fractured vertebrae in the spine, or damage to the spinal discs.
- Fractured bones.
- Burns resulting from contact with hot surfaces or flames sparked by the chemicals used to make vehicles run. The chemicals themselves can also create chemical burns.
- Amputated limbs, either resulting from traumatic amputation during the accident or because of surgical amputation to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for a person with a severely injured limb.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Speed-Related Accident
As you are likely aware, Florida requires drivers to purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy with a policy limit of at least $10,000 when they register their vehicles in the state. This no-fault policy provides medical coverage and replaces a portion of the wages lost due to the injury. Individuals may only seek compensation for their injuries through the personal lawsuit process if they exceed their PIP policy and still have uncovered expenses, or if they meet the state’s serious injury threshold.
Florida’s serious injury threshold includes injuries that involve:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
- Significant or permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Individuals who have been injured in an accident and meet the state’s serious injury threshold have two years after the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Family members who wish to seek compensation for the loss of a loved one can do so with the help of a personal representative of the estate who can file a wrongful death lawsuit within four years of the date on which the death occurred. Both of these actions involve filing a legal claim in civil court that seeks to prove who was liable (legally responsible) for the accident that resulted in injuries or death, and show the expenses and impacts of the injury.
To prove that a speeding driver caused your Fort Lauderdale accident, you must show:
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the actions that a reasonable driver would take in similar circumstances to protect the safety and property of others. A driver owes a duty to other roadway users to drive a motor vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care when the at-fault driver chose to speed—a neither safe nor legal action.
- The breach in the duty of care that existed when the driver chose to speed resulted in the accident that caused your injuries or your loved one’s death and subsequent expenses and impacts.
In personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, “damages” refers to the compensation that the claimant seeks.
Some damages plaintiffs recover through a lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses.
- Wage loss.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle that was damaged in the accident.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
Some of the damages commonly recovered through wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Medical expenses related to the treatment of the deceased’s final injury.
- Funeral services and burial or cremation.
- Loss of support and services that were provided by the deceased to his or her loved ones.
- Loss of the deceased person’s companionship and protection.
- Loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance.
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings from the time of the deceased person’s final injury until the time of death.
- The value of earnings and benefits the deceased would have reasonably earned but for the death.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to an accident that was caused by a speeding driver, a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney can answer your legal questions through a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
At that time, you can also learn more about the services we can provide to ensure your right to the full amount of compensation you deserve. For your free case evaluation, contact a car accident lawyer near you.