It is vital to take basic steps to protect yourself when you are driving or riding in a car or on a bike. One simple thing you can do every time you drive is to ensure that you are wearing your seatbelt, especially when you’re in the front of the car. Seatbelts significantly decrease the risk of fetal injuries in the event of a crash, while forgoing a seatbelt while in a car can increase your risk of death in a car accident by as high as 45%. Thousands of drivers in Florida experience severe or fatal accidents annually due to their failure to wear seatbelts.
Automobile accidents involving large vehicles, such as buses, are extremely dangerous. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 4,100 people were killed in large vehicle crashes last year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has found that there were more than 500,000 crashes nationwide involving large vehicles, with approximately 107,000 resulting in injuries. Buses are much larger than standard passenger vehicles, averaging 20 to 30 times bigger, creating massive crashes when they impact other vehicles. The difference in the size of the vehicles can prevent bus drivers from seeing smaller cars and bikes, while also resulting in more severe impact when crashes do occur. Most deaths in large vehicle crashes are from occupants of passenger vehicles. Of those killed in such accidents, roughly 82% are people in smaller vehicles.
Florida is no exception to the large vehicle crash trend, with the most common causes of large vehicle accidents being fatigue, distraction, substance-impaired driving, speeding, and aggressive overtaking. In certain Florida accident cases, punitive damage awards can increase the victim’s compensation significantly. Punitive damages require special permission from the court in addition to evidence that the defendant was grossly negligent or acted with intention or wanton disregard for the safety of others. In Florida, punitive damages are capped at triple the amount of the compensatory damages, resulting in extremely large awards when they are allowed. A recent local news article discussed a fatal Florida bus and bike accident.