Deerfield Beach Car Accident Lawyer
The City of Deerfield Beach, which began as the Town of Deerfield, was established as an agricultural community until it began growing faster during the late 1940’s. Deerfield Beach now has a population of over 70,000 and is considered one of the South Florida’s fastest-growing cities. As the city’s population grows, the higher number of residents may result in more vehicle accidents in the city. If you sustained injuries in a vehicle crash in the city of Deerfield Beach or anywhere in South Florida, the Deerfield Beach Car Accident Lawyers of Englander Peebles are here to assist you in obtaining the compensation that you justly deserve.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation in its 2016 Safety Plan, Deerfield Beach is ranked 3 out of 31 cities in Florida with populations of at least 75,000 regarding the frequency of injuries and fatalities due to vehicle collisions. Deerfield Beach is also ranked 4 out of 31 Florida cities for the rate of speeding-related accidents and ranked eight in the frequency in which older drivers (at least 65 years old) are involved in car crashes.
Deerfield Beach Accident Risks with Elderly Drivers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there were approximately 36 million licensed drivers who were at least 65 years in 2014. This number represents a 34 percent increase in the number of older drivers from 1999. Of this population, 5,560 people were killed in 2012 in traffic crashes, and 214,000 individuals sustained injuries. Accident data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that older drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents per mile traveled than any other age group except younger drivers who are thirty years and younger. Older drivers who are between 70 to 74 years are almost twice as likely to get involved in a fatal car accident per mile traveled than drivers who are between 35 and 69 years old.
According to the IIHS, older drivers apparently have low rates of police-reported accident involvements per capita, but the per capita fatal crash rates for older adults begin to increase starting at age 70. Accident rates and fatality rates for older drivers also start growing at around age 70. However, it must be noted that older drivers tend to travel less than most other age groups. Similar to younger low-mileage drivers, this group of older drivers tends to accumulate much of their mileage in driving in city conditions. Therefore, the higher crash rates for older drivers when measured per mile traveled may be more inflated because of the kind of driving this demographic tends to do.
Insurance claims may also provide an alternative view of collisions of different levels of severity. Claimants often file property damage liability claims when a driver who is at fault damages another person’s property. Collision coverage provides insurance for one's own vehicle against losses that may be caused by a crash. Coincidentally, drivers aged between 60 to 64 have the lowest rates of collision claims and property damage liability claims for every insured vehicle each year. Rates for such coverage begin increasing after around age 65. However, the insurance claim rates of older drivers are much lower than rates available for the youngest drivers.
Based on travel data from 2008, drivers aged 70 and older drove 45 percent fewer miles than drivers ages 35 to 54, on average. Older drivers seem to be traveling more miles than previously recorded. From 1995-96 to 2008, the average yearly mileage driven by older drivers (70 years old and above) increased by 42 percent, compared with a mere 21 percent increase for drivers 33 to 54 years old.
Older drivers experience many conditions that may affect their ability to drive. These conditions may include the following:
- Eyesight often gets worse with age. The eyes of older adults require more light and more time to adjust to different levels of illumination. It may be more difficult for older adults to see clearly, especially during the dawn, dusk, and night hours. Older adults who drive may become much more sensitive to glare from street lights, headlights, and the sun. Peripheral vision, which provides people with the ability to see up and down or to the side while looking forward, can decline with age, thus increasing the risk for collisions. Finally, eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration become more common with older adults, which makes it harder for such drivers to see colors and read road signs and signals. The adverse effects of worsening vision often begin at around 40 years of age old and affect almost all older adults at least by 51 years old.
- Loss of hearing that is often age-related can make it harder for older drivers to hear horns, noises from other cars, and sirens, which serves to warn drivers of possible danger or developing car issues. This can lead to greater risk of vehicle accidents.
- There are several diseases and physical conditions that can affect an older adult’s ability to drive. For example, diabetes can cause blood sugar levels to rise too high or drop too low. Such changes can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, confusion, or seizures. Another example is arthritis, which can cause joints to become swollen and stiff, thereby limiting a person’s movement of the hands, shoulders, neck, and head. This condition can make it difficult to grasp or turn a vehicle’s steering wheel, apply the gas pedals and the brake, fasten one’s seat belts, or become aware of hazards.
- Sleep apnea can increase the risk of drowsiness while driving because it is a disorder common among older adults in which the breathing is briefly but repeatedly interrupted during one’s sleep. Parkinson’s disease, another disease that strikes older adults, can cause a person’s extremities and limbs to shake uncontrollably, which diminishes a driver’s ability to operate a car safely. Finally, other diseases may require the use of both prescription and over-the-counter medications that may increase the risk of drowsiness while driving.
- Motor skills, which are critical for safe driving, can rapidly decline as adults age. Strength is necessary for several driving components such as pressing on a brake pedal. A person’s range of motion is crucial to being able to fasten a seat belt or turning around to look for objects and other vehicles. Such flexibility permits the body and its joints to move freely, which enables drivers to see the road from all angles. Limitations on these skills affect many driving components, including the ability to park, steer, and look at the rear and sides of the car.
- Older adults may experience a decline in their mental faculties, including attention span, memory, judgment, and the ability to react quickly and make decisions. These mental faculties are all necessary for driving. Older drivers can start feeling overwhelmed by signals, signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles.
Under Florida Law, a holder of a Florida driver’s license who is at least 80 years old must submit to, and successfully pass, a vision test to be permitted to renew a driver’s license. For those older adults under 80 years old, driver’s licenses must be renewed after every eight years. However, for other older individuals who are 80 years and older, driver’s licenses must be renewed every six years.
Other Risky Driver Behaviors
- Drunk driving and speeding: NHTSA estimates that in 2014, 9,967 individuals were killed in alcohol-related driving crashes. In the same year, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities made up 31 percent of all car traffic fatalities in the United States. 41 percent of drivers who were speeding in fatal collisions were legally impaired as compared with only 17 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents which did not involve speeding. Speeding continues to be the leading aggressive driving behavior. In 2014, driving too fast played a role in 19 percent of fatal crashes, making it the most prevalent factor in fatal crashes. According to NHTSA, in 2014, 9,262 people lost their lives because of speed-related crashes. Speeding was reported as a contributing factor in 28 percent of all traffic deaths in 2014. In the same year, 36 percent of male drivers aged 15 to 20 who were involved in deadly crashes were speeding during the time of the collision. NHTSA reports that accidents that were speed-related cost the country $40.4 billion annually. The IIHS reports that 41 states have posted a maximum speed limit of at least 70 MPH on a part of their highways as of May 2016.
- Running red lights: The IIHS indicates that more than 900 individuals die each year and approximately 2,000 sustain injuries as a result of cars running red lights. About 50 percent of those fatalities are pedestrians and passengers of other cars who are hit by vehicles running red lights.
- Driver Fatigue: A Study found that 37 percent of drivers reported being drowsy while driving and had fallen asleep at some point during their lives. Approximately 21 percent of fatal accidents, 13 percent of collisions resulting in severe injuries, and 6 percent of the total number of crashes, involved a fatigued driver. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the results of a survey in November 2013 that found that around 28 percent of licensed drivers who are 16 years old or older indicated that they drove even though they were exhausted at least once and had difficulty staying awake.
- Distracted Driving: When drivers engage in activities that take their attention off the road, including using a cellphone, talking with passengers, eating, and other similar distractions, they pose a major threat to their safety and others on the road. NHTSA measures distracted driving by collecting nationwide data on distraction-related crashes, which records distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement. According to NHTSA’s study in 2014, 3,179 people died in distraction-related accidents, and 431,000 other individuals were injured. There were 2,955 distraction-related deadly accidents, which accounts for 10 percent of all fatal accidents in the country, 18 percent of injury-causing accidents, and 16 percent of all car crashes in 2014. According to a State Farm study released in 2012, among drivers between 18 and 29 years old, approximately 48 percent accessed the Internet on a smartphone while driving. One-third of those drivers who accessed the internet read social media networks while driving a vehicle. 43 percent admitted to checking their email while driving. As to other age groups, they appeared to engage in these activities far less frequently.
Consumer Reports conducted a survey in December 2012 that found that laws that prohibit the use of hand-held smartphones or texting while driving could reduce driver distraction. Around 71 percent of respondents to the survey said they had stopped or reduced using a smartphone or texting while driving during the previous year. More than half of the respondents indicated they did so since states that enacted full texting bans significantly reduced or stopped texting while driving as compared with 34 percent of those who responded in states with no bans on cellphone use while driving.
- Aggressive Driving: NHTSA explains aggressive driving as taking place when a driver commits a combination of traffic offenses that endangers other drivers, persons, or property. The American Automobile Association conducted a study in 2009 to try to identify behaviors that are associated with aggressive driving. The association’s study was based on data tracked by the NHTSA. The study determined that aggressive driving played a contributing role in 56 percent of fatal accidents from 2003 to 2007, with speeding being the top factor. NHTSA indicates that the following driver-related factors were factors it considered as indicators that accidents may have involved some aggressive driving:
- Following too closely;
- Abrupt or erratic lane changing;
- Illegally driving on ditches, road shoulders, sidewalks, or medians;
- Passing other vehicles when expressly prohibited;
- Operating a motor vehicle in a reckless, erratic, careless, or negligent manner or suddenly switching speeds;
- Failing to yield the right of way;
- Failing to obey all traffic signs and control devices, or traffic officers;
- Failing to observe traffic laws regarding safety zones;
- Failing to follow instructions or warnings on vehicles;
- Failing to turn on the vehicle’s turn signal when necessary;
- Driving too fast for road conditions or faster than the posted speed limit;
- Drag racing; or
- Making an abrupt or otherwise improper turn.
- Hit and Run Crashes: Since 2009, the number of fatal hit and run accidents has increased. NHTSA reported that there were 1,274 fatal hit and run accidents in 2009, 1,393 fatalities in 2010, and 1,449 fatalities in 2011. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicated that approximately one in five pedestrian deaths were caused by hit and run crashes and 60 percent of all hit and run fatalities involved pedestrians.
Common Types of Injuries from Deerfield Beach Car Accidents
Around 2.3 million individuals suffered injuries in motor vehicle crashes in 2014 across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury in the United States. The CDC reports that because of motor vehicle accident injuries, 2.5 million Americans visit the emergency room each year, and nearly 200,000 crash victims need to be hospitalized for a period. In fact, the CDC estimates that Americans spend more than a million days in the hospital each year because of vehicle accident injuries.
The CDC estimates that in a given year, vehicle accident injuries cost individuals upwards of $18 billion in medical costs that victims had to pay during their lifetimes. Victims incur more than 75% of costs of injuries and other damages during the first 18 months after a vehicle accident. Additionally, victims lost more than $33 billion dollars’ worth of lifetime work because of motor vehicle accident injuries in a single year. Specifically, in Florida, there were 225,608 injuries from accidents in 2014, which was nearly 7 percent higher than the injury rate in 2013 at 210,887. Many different injuries may be caused by vehicle crashes, including:
- Knee and Leg Injuries
People usually think about upper body injuries first when they consider injuries from car accidents. However, major collisions may also result in severe leg and knee injuries. These kinds of injuries are normally the result of a part of the vehicle smashing into an occupant in front and may lead to other injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to serious fractures and organ damage.
- Neck Injuries
A whiplash is the most common type of injury that people get from a car accident. A whiplash is a kind of neck injury, and a vehicle occupant may sustain a whiplash injury when a crash causes the occupant’s head to swing quickly forward or towards the side of the body. This swift motion may cause neck sprains because it puts great pressure on ligaments in the neck. Most whiplash injuries tend to self-resolve over time. More serious neck injuries will often involve injuries to the spinal cord.
- Back or Spinal Cord Injuries
Bone, muscle, or spinal injuries are all types of back injuries that victims of severe car collisions may experience as a result of a car accident. Multiple parts of the back may sustain injuries depending on the force inflicted by the accident. Since the spinal cord goes all the way down a victim’s back, spinal cord injuries may be the most severe of all because of the surface area that is prone to damage. Vehicle collision victims must pay close attention to any symptoms that may arise when it comes to back injuries, especially as these injuries may get progressively worse without the appropriate treatment. Common symptoms may include moderate to severe pain radiating up or down the victim’s legs, weakening of muscles in the limbs, creeping numbness in the extremities, and pain anywhere in the victim’s back.
Broken bones or fractures always require emergency medical attention. Some fractured bones may be fixed with a cast, but others require extensive surgery and extended hospitalization. The most severe fractures, such as compound fractures, which broken bones can pierce the victim’s skin, may require multiple surgeries and an even longer period of hospitalization. Compound fractures have the ability to cause severe pain and may carry an elevated risk of infection. The extent to which medical treatment is required is determined by which bones are broken and how the fracture took place. Compound fractures, where bones fracture into multiple pieces, may necessitate the use of metal plates and screws.
- Head Injuries
Concussions are head injuries that take place when the brain is shaken severely inside the skull. This usually occurs when the victim’s head hits the dashboard, the steering wheel, or the windshield after a collision. Concussions can also occur without direct impact but simply through the abrupt forward or sideways motion of the head in a collision. Mild concussions do may require significant medical treatment aside from extended sleep and rest to help promote healing of the brain bruise. More severe concussions may need further medical treatment and hospitalization, especially if symptoms involve severe disorientation, confusion, nausea, and memory loss.
- Mental and Emotional Injuries
Serious car accidents can cause extensive psychological injuries in addition to physical ones. On the less severe end of the spectrum, these mental injuries may include anxiety, fear, emotional turmoil, and minor depressive episodes. People who are injured in car accidents may present with mild cases of mental distress with physical symptoms such as weight fluctuations, loss of appetite, insomnia or other sleep disorders, uncontrollable crying, mood swings, or sexual dysfunction. Although these symptoms may resolve over time, more severe psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or major depressive episodes may require professional psychiatric intervention.
Contact our Deerfield Beach Car Accident Attorneys Today
If you have been injured in a car accident in Deerfield Beach or anywhere in South Florida, Englander Peebles is here to help. Our attorneys can provide you with professional and aggressive legal representation. We are experienced in filing and presenting personal injury cases to a jury on behalf of his clients. We understand that filing a lawsuit is a tough process in a client’s life. All clients have access to our personal cell phone number and can call at any time. Call Englander Peebles today for a free and confidential initial consultation by contacting our office at (954) 500-4878 or by completing our website’s online form.