Kissimmee, Florida, is a vibrant city known as the gateway to the world's most famous theme parks and entertainment venues, like Walt Disney Resort, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. It is situated in Osceola County, just south of Orlando, and is part of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. This great city is a popular destination for families and tourists who wish to enjoy a delightful year-round climate.
However, car accidents with passengers are an unfortunate reality that can disrupt lives and shatter tranquility in the bustling city of Kissimmee. Distracted drivers and impaired motorists challenge residents and visitors who drive in its congested streets. As the city's population and tourist influx continue to grow, the safety of passengers in vehicles remains a pressing concern.
According to data from the Florida Highway Patrol, between January 1, 2023, and June 29, 2023, the Osceola County area, including Kissimmee, experienced 2,962 crashes. These incidents resulted in 41 fatalities and 2,332 injuries over just six months.
Types of Car Accidents and Impact on Passengers
While each accident is unique and can occur for various reasons, several categories of car accidents can help us better understand their dynamics and their impact on a passenger in a car accident. The most common types of car accidents include:
Side impact collision
These accidents occur when a vehicle is struck on the side, which can happen on either side of the car. Side impact collisions can be hazardous as a vehicle's doors are not the sturdiest components. Car accident passengers involved in side impact collisions are at risk of severe injuries, as the impact directly affects the area where they are seated, often resulting in significant trauma to the upper body.
Rollover accidents are among the most dangerous. They occur when the collision force causes a car to flip over, putting the occupants at significant risk of serious injuries. The violent motion of the vehicle rolling over can be hazardous for passengers. Car accident passengers involved in roll-over accidents may experience multiple impacts as the vehicle tumbles, increasing the likelihood of severe injuries or even fatalities.
These accidents occur when a car comes to a stop or slows down, and another vehicle collides with it from behind. Rear-end collisions can cause injuries to the neck and spinal cord. The damage happens because the driver and car accident passengers are forcefully thrown backward and forward at the moment of the impact.
Head-on collisions are also among the most dangerous accidents. They occur when two cars collide at the front; the combined speed of both vehicles leads to considerable damage. Even with advanced technologies and safety features in modern cars, head-on collisions often result in severe injuries, especially at high speeds. Car accident passengers in head-on collisions may face life-threatening injuries due to the intense impact and the potential for crumpling of the vehicle's front end.
A sideswipe accident occurs when two vehicles are traveling alongside each other at similar speeds, and a driver who is distracted or not paying attention attempts to change lanes without properly checking their surroundings. As a result, the car attempting to change lanes may collide with the side of the other vehicle. Car accident passengers involved in sideswipe accidents may experience sudden jolts and lateral forces, which can cause injuries such as strains, sprains, and bruises.
Common Injuries to Passengers in Car Accidents
Multiple types of injuries can occur to a passenger in a car accident, with the most dangerous ones involving the brain, head, and spinal cord. Accidents affecting these organs can significantly impact a person's mobility and motor functions and potentially result in other disabilities in the future.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force impacts the head, causing harm to the brain. This can happen from a blow, bump, or jolt to the head when an object penetrates the skull or the brain is forcefully shaken.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. Passengers in car accidents with a concussion can suffer different symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light or noise, fatigue, changes in mood or behavior, and others.
It happens when the head and neck undergo a sudden, forceful movement of being jerked backward and then forward, leading to strain and damage to the neck's soft tissues. The rapid acceleration and deceleration forces stress the neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Spinal Cord Injury
A passenger car accident could affect the spinal cord. This type of injury relates to damage that affects the bundle of cells and nerves responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the body. Spinal cord injuries can lead to temporary or permanent changes in movement, sensation, and bodily functions, affecting various aspects of a person's life.
Other Neck Injuries
A passenger car accident could seriously affect the neck of everyone in the car. This is because, during a traffic accident, a person's channel can suddenly jerk forward and backward.
Another of the most common car accident injuries is broken bones, undoubtedly. Due to the force of the collision and impact during an accident, the driver and occupants can be violently thrown against the vehicle's interior.
Many of the most frequent injuries sustained by passengers in a car accident are psychological and emotional. Post-traumatic disorder, different syndromes, personality disorders, and dementia are mental disorders that can develop following a car accident.
Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Passengers
In car accidents, passengers have certain legal rights and responsibilities that can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. These rights ensure victims can protect their interests and seek compensation as passengers in car accidents for injuries and damages. Victims who are well-informed about their legal standing can ask for fair treatment and payment for any losses.
Legal Rights for Passengers in a Car Accident
- They have the right to seek compensation for injuries and damage caused by the accident.
- They are entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance for compensation.
- In no-fault insurance systems, they may be able to claim compensation from their own insurance company.
- May have the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or other responsible parties for severe injuries or damages exceeding insurance limits.
- Valuable witnesses in determining fault and liability, providing their account of the accident.
- They can consult with a personal injury attorney to protect their rights, gather evidence, and pursue fair compensation for passengers in car accidents.
Legal Responsibilities for Passengers in a Car Accident
- Duty to mitigate damages by taking reasonable steps to minimize injuries and losses after the accident.
- Cooperate with law enforcement and provide accurate information about the accident.
- Avoid actions that may contribute to worsening injuries.
- Filing claims against the at-fault driver and dealing with insurance companies
Filing claims after a passenger car accident involves some problematic steps to seek compensation for injuries and damages. A victim must gather information, document injuries, and look for witnesses, among other legal requirements.
- Consulting a passenger car accident attorney is best for negotiating with insurance companies. A specialized lawyer could help you protect your rights, assess damages, work to achieve a fair settlement, and, if necessary, pursue legal action against the at-fault driver.
Comparative negligence and how it may affect passenger claims
Comparative negligence determines the legal responsibility for an accident based on each party's relative guilt or failure. The extent to which each person contributed to the accident is considered, and their compensation for passengers in car accidents may be adjusted accordingly.
Proving Liability in a Passenger Accident Case
Proving the fault of a car accident may not be easy. Still, Kissimmee car accident attorneys can work in proving negligence in a case demonstrating four key elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
First, it is necessary to establish that the at-fault party had a legal obligation to drive safely and follow traffic laws to prevent harm to others. This is called the duty of care.
Next, it must be shown that the at-fault party failed to meet this duty by engaging in negligent behavior, such as speeding or distracted driving. This is called a breach of duty.
It is then essential to establish that the breach of duty directly caused the accident and resulting injuries to passengers. This is known as causation.
Evidence such as accident reports, witness statements, and medical records are typically presented to prove these elements.
Compensation for Injured Passengers
If you've been injured in a passenger car accident, a knowledgeable attorney specializing in car accidents can help you pursue a settlement that provides much-needed peace of mind for you and your family. Some of the damages you can claim after experiencing a passenger car accident in Kissimmee are:
- Medical Expenses covering medical costs can be a significant financial burden for the victim, depending on the severity of the accident.
- Pain and suffering, mental or emotional scars may entitle victims to rightful compensation for passengers in car accidents to alleviate the anguish, stress, and damage endured.
- Lost wages can be claimed if the injuries sustained in the accident prevent you from working.
- Property damage
- Wrongful death is applicable in tragic cases where a passenger suffers fatal injuries. Their family members can pursue damages for loss of society and companionship.
- Statute of Limitations is a time limit for filing a legal lawsuit after a passenger car accident. Florida's Statute of Limitations for personal injury cases is usually four years. This means you have four years from the accident date to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries.
However, it is essential to remember that the specific rules may vary, so it is always a good idea to consult an accident attorney to get accurate information about your situation. If you miss the deadline and try to file a lawsuit after the Statute of Limitations has expired, the court will dismiss your case.
The Importance of Seatbelts in Protecting Passengers
Either as a passenger or a driver, all persons inside a vehicle must always wear seatbelts for safety. Seatbelts are one of the most effective safety devices designed to prevent or minimize injuries in the event of a collision as they restrain passengers during a crash, preventing them from being ejected from the vehicle.
Did you know that seatbelts are designed to distribute impact force over stronger body parts, such as the chest and hips? This reduces the likelihood of life-threatening injuries and protects internal organs. Also, passengers securely belted inside the vehicle are prevented from colliding with hard surfaces like the windshield or dashboard.
Vulnerable passengers, such as children and pregnant women, should always wear a seatbelt to prevent dangerous movement during a crash. The use of airbags enhances the effectiveness of seatbelts, ensuring passengers remain in the optimal position to receive the full benefit of airbag deployment. There are no excuses for not wearing your seatbelt.
Legal Representation After a Passenger Car Accident
Car crashes can have serious financial, emotional, and bodily repercussions for passengers. Our accident attorneys in Kissimmee have the experience and understanding to help you at every stage of the legal process. We understand the effects of such mishaps on your life and the value of having a dependable legal ally during this trying period.
Do not hesitate to contact us for assistance if you have been in a car accident. Whenever you want, call us at 855-DOLOR-55. Our team at The Ward Law Group PL offers you the help, direction, and representation you require to navigate the legal system and get the just compensation you are entitled to.