A driver who crashed into a home, killing one and injuring five. An elderly driver who crashed into a medical building, sending two people to the hospital. A driver who pinned a man to the wall in his living room after running a stop sign and crashing into the man’s home. A drunk driver who crashed into a restaurant before being sent to jail. While these might sound like uncommon occurrences, these are all accidents that recently happened over the span of just a few weeks in Florida.
So, how do drivers crash into buildings? While there are several possible factors, distractions are among the most common. Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of car accidents in Florida—including accidents involving collisions with buildings and other stationary objects.
Common Driver Distractions That Lead To Collisions with Buildings
Lots of people drive while distracted. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), as many as two-thirds of all drivers in the U.S. admit to using their phones behind the wheel. This includes distracted driving behaviors such as:
- Making phone calls while driving
- Sending and reading text messages while driving
- Sending and receiving emails while driving
- Scrolling social media while driving
- Setting and following GPS navigation directions
- Taking photos or videos while driving
Of course, cell phones are not the only source of distraction behind the wheel. Accidents involving cars crashing into buildings can result from various other types of distractions as well. Along with cell phone use, other common forms of distracted driving include:
- Eating and drinking behind the wheel
- Grooming behind the wheel
- Using in-car infotainment systems behind the wheel
- Talking to passengers in the car
- Looking at objects and incidents outside of the vehicle (rubbernecking)
All of these factors can (and, more often than you might expect, do) lead to collisions with buildings. When traveling at ordinary speeds of 25 mph to 45 mph, a vehicle can go hundreds of feet in a matter of seconds. If a driver is distracted by his or her surroundings, his or her phone, or something else in the vehicle, this is more than enough time to create a dangerous situation. When a driver is engrossed in something other than the task at hand, crashing into a building on the side of the road is a very real possibility.
Why Don’t Distracted Drivers See (and Try To Avoid) Buildings?
Buildings on the side of the road are not difficult to see. Even if you are paying attention to the road ahead, you can always see buildings in your peripheral vision. So, why don’t distracted drivers see (and try to avoid) buildings?
The answer is fairly simple. As the NSC bluntly states, “multitasking is a myth.” As it explains further, “Your brain can’t process two things at once. It switches attention from one task to another.”
In other words, when drivers are focused on their phones or other distractions, they aren’t focused on avoiding accidents—whether with cars, pedestrians or buildings. Studies have shown that distractions impede drivers’ abilities in three equally important ways:
- Distractions Impede Drivers’ Ability to See Buildings (Visual Distraction) – Distractions can result in a type of tunnel vision. When a driver is looking at something distracting, the driver’s ability to observe other objects in his or her surroundings (including buildings) is limited.
- Distractions Impede Drivers’ Ability to Identify and Respond To Risks (Cognitive Distraction) – Even once a driver recognizes a risk, it takes time to process the risk and respond. If a driver is distracted, he or she is less capable of identifying risks while he or she still has time to respond appropriately.
- Distractions Impede Drivers’ Ability to Maintain Control of Their Vehicles (Manual Distraction) – With manual distractions such as handheld cell phone use, drivers’ physical ability to maintain control of their vehicles is limited as well. This also adds to the time it takes for drivers to respond to dangerous situations on (or off) the road.
Once a distracted driver realizes that he or she is in danger of hitting a building, it is often already too late for the driver to avoid a crash. In most cases, drivers panic, and they end up making additional mistakes that put building occupants in harm’s way. With the weight of a typical car, truck or SUV, even a relatively low-speed impact with a building can cause substantial damage—and this is why so many collisions with buildings result in serious or fatal injuries.
What Are Your Legal Rights If You Were Injured When a Driver Crashed Into a Building?
If you were injured when a car crashed into a building in Florida, what are your legal rights? In this situation, you may have a claim under the driver’s auto insurance policy. While Florida does not require drivers to carry liability insurance for accident-related injuries and deaths, many drivers purchase this coverage voluntarily.
Additionally, if you have auto insurance, you may be able to file a claim under your policy as well. Specifically, if you opted to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, this coverage may protect you. This type of coverage applies in a wide range of scenarios—including scenarios in which you are not driving when you get injured.
Whether you have a claim under the driver’s insurance policy or your own insurance policy, you will need to prove that the driver was negligent to recover just compensation. Distracted driving is negligent driving; and, fortunately, there are several ways to prove that a driver was distracted at the time of a crash. This is especially true in cases involving cell phone distractions. To make sure you are able to prove the distracted driver’s negligence, you should hire a lawyer to conduct an investigation as soon as possible.
Get Help from the Experienced Lawyers at Searcy Denney
If you need to know more about protecting your legal rights after being injured by a driver who crashed into a building in Florida, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To speak with an experienced lawyer at Searcy Denney in confidence, call 800-780-8607 or request a free consultation online now.