Fort Lauderdale residents depend on their cars to get to work, see family, run errands, and otherwise enjoy the activities of their lives. Motor vehicle travel also brings with it the risk of an accident. This is especially true in locations with high levels of vehicles and traffic, like Fort Lauderdale.
Read on to understand the leading causes of car accidents in Fort Lauderdale, who is responsible for an accident, and what damages are recoverable after an accident.
Fort Lauderdale Accidents
In a recent year, there were more than 40,000 crashes in Broward County, FL, resulting in 214 fatalities and more than 23,000 injuries, and almost 25,000 property damage crashes.
Fort Lauderdale is particularly dangerous for drivers because of its:
- Massive Intersections: Fort Lauderdale is home to many large intersections that cause congestion and confusion, increasing the likelihood of a car accident. Some of the problematic intersections in Fort Lauderdale are Sunrise Boulevard and Andrew Avenue, NE 26th Street and Federal Highway, Oakland Park Boulevard and Powerline Road, and North State Road 7 and West Oakland Park Boulevard.
- Major Highways: In addition to large intersections, Fort Lauderdale drivers also spend time on major highways like I-95 South, Everglades Parkway, and the Florida Turnpike. In fact, I-95 has been considered one of the deadliest highways in the United States.
Analysis of Florida crashes show that some causes are much more common than others:
- Failure to Yield: Drivers are responsible for complying with all traffic right-of-way obligations, including for other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. Failure to yield mistakes can occur at large, multi-lane intersections when drivers become confused about traffic flow. Tourists exacerbate the problem because they don't know the area or traffic flow.
- Ran Red Light or Stop Sign: Traffic signs and signals facilitate the smooth flow of traffic and make sure that everyone on the road follows the same set of rules. Anytime a driver disregards a traffic sign or signal, they put everyone on the road at risk. The odds of running a red light increase at busy intersections. A driver might think they can make it through the intersection when a light is yellow without realizing the size of the intersection and the distance they must cover before the light turns red.
- Speeding/Driving too Fast for Conditions: Drivers must comply with all posted speed limits and adjust their speed for driving conditions. For example, even if the speed limit is 60 miles per hour, bad weather conditions might warrant a slower speed. Drivers are more likely to speed on major highways, and I-95 is a common location for reckless, fast driving. Speeding limits a driver’s ability to react quickly to other vehicles or changing road conditions and decreases the ability to control the vehicle.
- Failure to Stay in Lane: Drivers can exit their designated lanes at many unsafe times. One reason for exiting your lane is to pass on a two-lane highway like the Everglades Parkway. Passing on a highway is very dangerous and should only be done in authorized areas and with extreme caution. Merging is another risk area. While merging is an appropriate reason for changing lanes, drivers must do it with caution.
- Following Too Closely: When cars get too close, an accident is more likely because there is no time to react to a car that quickly stops or changes direction. This often happens at congested intersections. Drivers are responsible for maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of them.
- Drunk Driving: Drivers are more likely to drive drunk in Florida than in other states. Any time a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the risk of an accident greatly increases. Impaired drivers are less capable of making safe driving decisions or reacting to changing road conditions. In Florida, a driver violates the drunk driving laws if their blood alcohol or breath alcohol level is 0.08 or above or their normal faculties are impaired.
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is an increasing risk on the road as more and more individuals use their electronic devices while driving. Distracted driving is particularly dangerous in Fort Lauderdale because of the large number of tourists who don't know the roads and rely on their electronic devices for directions.
- Road Hazards: Heavily used roadways require constant construction and maintenance, which is particularly true on major highways like the Florida Turnpike. If drivers aren’t cautious around roadwork, an accident is more likely. Drivers should reduce speed in construction areas and respond quickly to hazards or rough road conditions.
Understanding common causes of car accidents in Fort Lauderdale can help you drive safely and avoid hazards. Unfortunately, this doesn’t keep you safe from other unsafe drivers.
Common Car Accident Injuries
If you are in a car accident, chances are high you suffered one or more injuries. Car accident victims often suffer:
- Traumatic Brain Injury: If a car accident victim suffers a blow to the head, they might suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI symptoms vary widely between victims depending on the location and strength of the blow but commonly cause physical or cognitive disabilities. A very serious TBI can result in brain death.
- Head Injuries: A TBI is not the only possible injury caused by a blow to the head. A victim could also suffer a concussion or have lacerations that require stitches or other medical intervention.
- Spinal Injuries: The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the body, making spinal cord injuries especially serious. Similar to a TBI, the effect of a spinal cord injury depends on the location of the injury on the spinal cord. Symptoms range from muscle weakness to paralysis and the inability to control bodily functions.
- Neck and Back Injuries: A car accident is jarring to the whole body but especially the back and neck. Whiplash is a common neck injury after a car accident. These injuries can cause chronic pain for the victim and require ongoing physical therapy or rehabilitation.
- Internal Injuries: A blow to the body can also damage internal organs, including the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Symptoms of internal damage don’t always present immediately so diagnosis can be difficult but delay in treatment can cause serious repercussions.
- Broken Bones and Fractures: A bone can break as the victim braces for impact, if they are thrown from the vehicle, or if they are tossed about in the accident. A broken bone limits the victim’s mobility, and a serious break can require surgery or physical therapy.
- Road Rash: Road rash occurs when skin scrapes across the asphalt. Any crash victim has the potential to suffer from road rash, but it is most common for motorcyclists who are much more likely to come into contact with the road. Serious cases of road rash require skin grafting.
- Dental and Facial Injuries: Impact on a victim’s case can cause broken facial bones, including a broken jaw, or chipped or cracked teeth. Lacerations to the face might require plastic surgery.
- Cuts, Bruises, Sprains: While more minor, injuries like cuts, bruises, and sprains can disrupt a victim’s day-to-day life and limit their ability to perform necessary tasks.
You should seek medical attention immediately after an accident. Your safety and wellbeing are the most important priority. Additionally, securing timely medical attention ensures that the defendant can’t argue that your delay contributed to your injuries. Once you have attended to your medical needs, you will need to start compiling your case for recovery.
Determining Liability and Damages
After managing your injuries and the immediate impact on your life caused by a car accident, it is time to assess who was responsible for the accident. Any party whose negligent or intentional act caused the accident is responsible for the resulting injuries.
Parties whose actions often cause car accidents are:
- Driver: The most common responsible party is a driver of a vehicle involved in the accident. Any action outside of a reasonable standard of care is evidence of negligence. Violation of a traffic rule or regulation is strong evidence of negligent action. Negligent actions frequently result in the most common causes of car accidents, including speeding, driving under the influence, and running traffic signs or signals.
- Employer: An employer is responsible for negligent actions committed by an employee who is operating in the scope of their job duties. This is especially common when a commercial driver or delivery driver causes an accident. Employer insurance policies often have much higher limits for recovery after an accident.
- Local Government: If poorly maintained roadways or malfunctioning traffic signals cause an accident, the local government or agency responsible for maintenance might be responsible. It can be very difficult to secure recovery from a government entity, so work with your lawyer to determine if recovery is possible.
- Vehicle Manufacturer: A manufacturer is responsible for a safety failure or defect in vehicles they produce. A malfunction can cause an accident or can increase the severity of injuries after an accident. For example, failure of an airbag is not likely to cause an accident but can significantly increase the severity of resulting injuries.
An experienced car accident attorney will help assess the facts of your case to determine which party or parties are responsible for the accident and your injuries. A police report is often a critical piece of evidence in a claim for recovery. The report will include documentation of the accident scene, witness information, and any traffic citations issued against drivers involved in the accident. If you can’t secure a police report, a lawyer probably can. Meanwhile, document as much information at the scene of the accident as possible.
After identifying the responsible party, you will also need to assess the full scope of your damages, including:
- Medical costs and expenses including emergency transportation, doctor’s bills, and prescription medication as well as an estimate of any future medical costs like physical therapy
- Lost income from time missed at work as well as an estimate of any future lost wages and reduced future earning potential
- Cost of repair or replacement of damaged property
- Monetary compensation for emotional distress suffered because of the accident, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
- An appropriate amount to compensate for the loss of enjoyment in important activities because of injuries
Make a thorough assessment of your damages. This amount will be analyzed by a jury if your case proceeds to trial and will also be a helpful tool when analyzing any settlement offers made by the defendant or their insurance provider. While settlement provides a guaranteed recovery, be sure that you only accept a settlement offer that matches the strength of your case against the defendant. Consult with your attorney before accepting any settlement offer.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help You
Pursuing recovery after a car accident is a stressful time. Working with an experienced car accident attorney is one of the most helpful steps you can take to reduce stress and ensure you secure the recovery you deserve. Lawyers support their clients through each step of the recovery process after a car accident, from case assessment to preparing a damages claim to representing you in court.