A low impact auto accident is generally defined as an incident that takes place atspeeds less than 10 miles per hour (mph). This type of collision usually causes the least amount of damage to the vehicles involved. Body injuries can result from any accident and that includes ones that occur with vehicles going less than 10 mph. Soft tissue injuries are the most common problem for those involved in a low impact accident.
A motor vehicle accident that takes place at speeds between under 10 mph often brings about little visible damage to the cars involved. Sometimes due to the fact that minimal damage was done to vehicle the injuries to the people in the vehicles are overlooked. This does not mean that bodily injury did not occur to the passengers during the crash. While an automobile is built to take a slow 5 to 10 mph crash that is not true for your body. In a low impact accident a person’s soft tissue can easily be damaged. The back and neck are the usual problem spots for soft tissue injuries and can result in life changing injuries. Soft tissue is a person’s ligaments, tendons and muscles. Soft tissue injuries are typically classified as contusions or bruises, sprains or strains. While these injuries may not appear as dramatic as a broken bone, if you have ever suffered from a sprained ankle or similar injury you know that they can be both painful and debilitating.
A contusion is an injury to the soft tissue caused by blunt force. This force produces pooling of blood around the injury causing discoloring of the skin. This is commonly referred to as a bruise. Bruising can be found in different shapes and colors.
A sprain is an injury to a ligament often brought about by wrenching or twisting of a joint. A sprain canbe a simple sprain, a partial tear or a complete tear. This can happen to various parts of a person’s body during an accident. It is not uncommon for a person to twist in their seat as a vehicle during the impact phase of the accident.
A strain is an injury to the muscle or tendon caused by overuse, force or stretching. The force of the car crash can push on a person’s soft tissue or cause parts to stretch in anabnormal way. Muscles and tendons support your bones. A strain may cause a partial or complete tear in the muscle and tendon combination.
The neck of a car occupant can whip forward causing the from a rear impact injuryknown as whiplash. General Motors (GM) conducted a study regarding crashes at speeds below eight mph. GM found, that injuries do occur at such low speeds. The study also showed that whiplash injuries account for more than half of all injuries connected tovehicular accidents.
A significant percent of those hurt in low speed collisions have reported having neck pain up to three years later. This injury is likely to be worse in those that experienced in a rear end collision. Depending on the age of the person this injury could cause permanent disability.
Whiplash-a soft tissue injury to the neck-is also called neck sprain or neck strain. It ischaracterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck,usually because of sudden extension (backward) and flexion (forward). The disordercommonly occurs as the result of an automobile accident and or a slip and fall, and mayinclude injury to intervertebral joints, discs and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerveroots. Symptoms such as neck pain may be present directly after the injury or may bedelayed for several days. In addition to neck pain, other symptoms may include neckstiffness, injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries), headache,dizziness, abnormal sensations such as burning or prickling (known as paresthesias), orshoulder or back pain. In addition, some people experience conditions such as memoryloss, concentration impairment, nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue, or depression.
Can the owner of a poorly maintained flat-bed trailer that flips on its side be found liable for damages suffered by the driver of the vehicle?
At trial, the driver’s attorney presented evidence demonstrating that the defective condition of the flat bed was the cause of the driver’s injury. First it was shown that flat-bed trailer was in poor condition with holes in the floor of the bed as well as rotten and warped wood. Second, Joseph Trucking was shown to have knowledge of the poor condition of the flat-bed. Third, it was shown that wood used in previous repairs was not the type typically used for such repairs. Fourth, Joseph Trucking was unable to produce any maintenance or repair records for the flat-bed trailer. Fifth, the driver was able to present evidence that the concrete pieces where properly loaded and secured on the flat-bed trailer. Sixth, the driver was demonstrated to be a properly licensed commercial vehicle operator with the necessary experience. Finally, the driver was able to demonstrate that he was experienced with driving on the roadway where the accident occurred.
The jury found that Joseph Trucking was 70% at fault and the driver was 30% at fault. Interestingly, the trial judge granted Joseph Trucking’s motion for directed verdict, finding that the notwithstanding the evidence describe above, the driver had failed to demonstrate that defective condition of the truck caused the accident. On appeal, the 5th District Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial court and overruled the trial court, finding that the driver’s attorney did present sufficient evidence at trial for the jury to find that the poor condition of the flat-bed trailer was a contributing cause of the accident.
See Benitez v. Joseph Trucking, Inc., 36 Fla. L. Weekly D1995 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).
During the last decade people of all ages have begun to utilize text messaging, email, internet browsing, or gaming features of their cellular telephones. Many people are using these features while operating a motor vehicle.
Additionally, many employees are using these features while working and driving. The use of these features increases the risk for vehicular crashes. Specifically, the use of a cellular phone has been tied to a four times greater chance of vehicle crash causing serious injury.
Florida does not currently have laws that regulate or prohibit the use of cellar devices while driving a motor vehicle. However, there is discussion of a cellular telephone regulation being passed in the upcoming legislative session.
It is required, though, that the driver of a vehicle operate in a “careful and prudent manner… so as not to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.” Fla. Stat. § 316.1925 (2010). An employer can be held liable for the actions of an employee when they are acting within the scope of employment.
Therefore, an employer may be held liable for an employee who has caused a crash while working and texting, checking email, or just talking on a cellular telephone. The employer can even be held liable for their employee’s actions if it is against the employer’s policy if they have not enforced this policy, or otherwise knew or should have known the employee was violating this policy.
Driver’s have a responsibility to operate their vehicle in a manner which does not endanger those around them. A driver who is distracted because they are using their cellular phone is not following this duty.
If you have been injured in a vehicle crash because another driver was distracted by their cellular telephone it is important that you consult with an attorney. It is also important that all drivers remember that driving is a serious responsibility and that it requires all of our full attention. When driving please do not use your cellular telephone for any purpose.
Dustin Butler’s practice focuses on Personal Injury Litigation, Civil Litigation, and Family Law.