How are Loose Objects Dangerous During Car Accidents?June 18, 2020
Most people have a variety of loose objects in their car, including small items such as cell phones, children’s toys, and water bottles, as well as larger, heavier objects such as laptops, purses, luggage, or canned goods. Although none of these items are normally considered dangerous, even a cell phone or a small toy can strike passengers with extreme force during a car accident, causing a range of injuries. According to Safety Research and Strategies, loose objects in cars are responsible for approximately 13,000 injuries each year. Although it is not always possible to avoid a car accident, motorists can take steps to minimize the risk of injuries caused by unsecured loose objects inside the vehicle.
Isaac Newton’s first law of motion states that every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. This applies to the objects inside of a motor vehicle as well. When a car is travelling at a speed of 65 miles an hour and is involved in a car accident, the loose objects inside the vehicle continue to move forward at that speed until something, such as the dashboard, a window, or the windshield, prevents them from moving further. If a vehicle was travelling at 55 miles per hour (mph) at the time of a collision, a 20-pound object inside the car will strike with 1,000 pounds of force. Studies show a suitcase that is roughly 20 pounds can sever the arm off a crash test dummy.
Loose objects can cause other dangers as well. If a small object falls on the driver’s side floor and becomes lodged between the floor and the brake pedal, it can prevent the driver from slowing down or stopping the vehicle. If this happens on a busy highway, and the driver is unable to stop, it can cause a serious, high-speed collision involving multiple vehicles. Loose objects can also cause a driver to become distracted, taking his or her attention away from the road ahead. For example, if an object falls on the floor of the vehicle, the driver will become distracted when reaching down to pick it up. When a driver’s attention is off the road when driving at a speed of 55 mph, it is comparable to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
What Types of Injuries do Loose Objects Cause?
The impact of a car accident can cause a loose object to strike a driver with extreme force, particularly if the car was traveling at a high speed. Depending on the object and the speed at which the car was traveling, the occupants of the vehicle can suffer devastating injuries, including cuts and lacerations, foot injuries, multiple fractures, neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, and even fatalities.
Can Unrestrained Passengers Cause Injuries?
Just as loose objects can cause serious injuries in a car accident, unrestrained passengers can become deadly projectiles in a high-speed car accident. Passengers who are not wearing their seat belts are at serious risk of severe, even fatal, injuries if they are involved in a car accident. However, an unsecured or improperly secured passenger can also endanger the lives of other passengers inside the vehicle. In fact, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), in a simulated accident using crash test dummies, including one that was unrestrained in the back seat, the unrestrained dummy hit the dummy in the front seat with enough force that they both hit the windshield.
Research shows that the risk of dying in a car accident increases by 25 percent if at least one other passenger is not properly secured by a seat belt. In each of the testing scenarios using the crash test dummies, the dummies all suffered serious injuries running from major impact injuries to severed limbs. Unrestrained pets can be just as dangerous as unrestrained human passengers.
How can I Prevent Injuries from Loose Objects?
One of the first things that most drivers do when they get in their car is fasten their seat belts to ensure that they are safely restrained. However, they do not always take a moment to secure loose items in their car before they drive. The following are simple steps drivers can take to reduce the risk of injuries caused by loose objects:
- Safely secure all objects that are not attached to the vehicle.
- Make sure that all passengers have properly secured their seat belts. If any of the passengers are young children, check their car seats or booster seats before driving to ensure that they are safely secure.
- If pets are riding in the car, make sure that they are restrained, either in an approved travel carrier or a safe restraint system or harness.
- Keep all groceries in the trunk of the vehicle. If the vehicle has a cargo hold rather than a trunk, use cargo nets and tethers to prevent loose objects from striking passengers.
- Keep the inside of the vehicle clean and organized.
- Put small objects, such as phones or sunglasses, in the glove compartment.
- Place lighter items in fixed compartments in the vehicle and use the cargo nets, tethers, and anchors to secure heavier items.
How Do I Prove Negligence Against Another Driver?
To show that another driver’s negligent behavior caused a car accident, including those involving unsecured, loose objects, victims must prove the following:
- Duty of care: All drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicle in a way that does not jeopardize the safety of other motorists on the road. A car accident lawyer will be able to help prove that the other driver was not exercising reasonable care when the accident occurred, such as failing to secure loose items in his or her vehicle. A police report may provide valuable information about the cause of the accident. If the case goes to deposition or trial, testimony from the police officer who was at the scene can be extremely helpful.
- Breach of duty: Victims must prove that the other driver breached the duty of care by allowing a dangerous situation above and beyond the level of risk that occurs in our daily lives. Most car accident cases depend on whether the duty of care was met.
- Causation: Victims will also need to prove that if it were not for the other driver’s actions, they would not have been injured. This is often referred to as “but-for” causation, meaning that but-for the other driver’s actions, the victim’s injury would not have occurred. In some cases, the other driver may claim that negligence was not the cause of the accident. Be sure to collect as much evidence as possible, including police reports, medical records, and photos of the accident scene.
- Damages: This refers to the physical and emotional injuries, property damages, and lost income that an individual suffers as a result of a car accident. The compensation amount will depend on the severity of the accident and the extent of the injuries, but a dedicated car accident lawyer will ensure that victims receive the maximum financial compensation they deserve for their injuries.
Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Obtain Compensation for Victims of Car Accidents
If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a car accident involving loose objects that were not safely secured in the vehicle, you are urged to contact the Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. Our skilled legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until justice has been served. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.