Just two months ago, a Miami-Dade transit bus came crashing through a storefront in downtown Miami after colliding with a smaller vehicle. Two people suffered minor injuries, but it could have been much worse.
Although it’s not every day a bus comes careening through the front doors, it does in fact happen every day that vehicles crash into storefronts. The Storefront Safety Council reports there are 60 such accidents daily across the country. These result in 4,000 injuries and 500 deaths a year. At least 10 serious injuries are caused by these collisions every day.
The problem is so significant the Miami-Herald tackled the issue back in 2014 – even long before the bus-in-the building crash. Reporters asked, “Why do so many cars smash into buildings?”
Cars into gas stations. Cars into grocery stores. Cars into nursing homes, day cares, hospitals, homes and even insurance companies. Experts say there is no one reason. Sometimes it’s distraction. Sometimes it’s a driver trying to get away from police in pursuit. Sometimes it’s a person who mistakes the accelerator for the brake. Sometimes it’s a health emergency.
It’s gotten so bad in Florida that a number of municipalities have been weighing and passing measures that require barriers or bollards to be placed outside of certain establishments. For example, in Orange County, officials formed the “Crash Impediment Task Force, which is seeking to place protective barriers outside day care facilities and senior centers.
But even when companies take the initiative, some find the barriers and bollards they bought were not strong enough to withstand the impact. They were essentially useless. Plus, they gave pedestrians a false sense of security. They would hide behind the barriers, only to find too late it offered no protection.
Recently, ASTM International, which sets industry standards for a host of safety products, passed standards for what they termed, “low-speed pedestrian barriers.”
Now, the standard is that bollards have to be able with withstand the weight of a pickup truck traveling at 30 mph. Testing of products is being carried out by Texas A&M University.
So what does this mean for pedestrians? As our Miami car accident lawyers can explain, it means first of all, hopefully, greater protection. Secondly, it means that if those barriers are not placed in front of a store where a property owner reasonably could have expected such an incident, victims or surviving relatives could file a premises liability lawsuit, asserting the property wasn’t safe for business patrons. Thirdly, it means if the bollards don’t meet the safety standards as outlined by ASTM, plaintiffs may have grounds for a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or seller of the products.
Of course, this is all in addition to whatever liability might be alleged against the driver and his or her insurance company. The problem is that often, we find drivers lack insurance (1 in 4 drivers in Florida don’t have auto insurance) or more likely that the insurance coverage they do have is inadequate to cover the full cost of all victim’s damages. This is where having multiple avenues of financial recovery can help.
Because storefront crashes can result in serious injuries to both vehicle occupants and pedestrians, it’s imperative that an experienced personal injury lawyer be contacted.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Will storefront crash barriers protect you? Feb. 2, 2016, By Garrett Brnger, KSAT.com
More Blog Entries:
Wrong-Way Drivers in Miami Focus for Traffic Safety Advocates, Jan. 19, 2016, Miami Car Accident Lawyer Blog