How Are Loose Objects Dangerous in Car Accidents?July 14, 2022
Many people have a variety of loose objects in their car, ranging from small items like cellphones, makeup, children’s toys, and water bottles to heavier objects such as laptops, pocketbooks, luggage, and boxes. It is not uncommon for motorists to drive with objects on the seats and floor of their vehicles. None of this may seem unusual, dangerous, or an immediate safety concern. However, in a car accident, even something small can strike the occupant of a vehicle with intense force, causing severe injuries.
Studies have shown that drivers risk injury or death when they leave these objects unsecured in their vehicles. Safety Research & Strategies has reported that ordinary loose items in vehicles are responsible for 13,000 injuries each year.
Loose objects in cars are dangerous in several ways:
- Flying objects: Loose objects can become dangerous projectiles. If a vehicle traveling at a relatively high speed is involved in a car crash, the loose objects continue to fly forward until something, such as the dashboard, windshield, or a window, prevents them from moving further. If a vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour at the time of a collision, a 20-pound object inside the car would strike with 1,000 pounds of force. Studies show that a suitcase weighing about 20 pounds can sever the arm of a crash test dummy.
- Pedal jams: If a small object falls onto the driver’s side floor and gets lodged underneath the brake pedal, it can prevent the driver from being able to slow down or stop the vehicle. Loose objects can also get stuck under the gas pedal or floor mats. If one of these situations happens on a well-trafficked highway, it can result in a severe high-speed crash involving multiple vehicles.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a well-known cause of car accidents. Loose objects tend to cause drivers to become distracted as they take their attention off the road. When an object like a cellphone falls to the vehicle’s floor, a driver may become distracted when reaching down to retrieve the item. Personal items in the car, such as purses, money, food, and travel cups, often shift and distract a driver. It only takes seconds for a car accident to occur, which can happen if drivers take their eyes off the road when distracted by loose objects.
What Types of Injuries Do Loose Objects Cause?
The impact of a car accident can cause loose objects to hit a driver with extreme force, particularly if the car is traveling at high speed. Depending on the object and the speed at which the car was traveling, the occupants of the vehicle with loose objects can suffer various types of injuries ranging in severity, including cuts and lacerations, multiple fractures, head injuries, neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even fatalities.
Loose objects can also be a distraction for drivers, which is a leading cause of all types of car accidents. This leaves motorists who drive with loose objects in their vehicles vulnerable to all possible injuries resulting from a car accident.
How Can I Prevent Injuries From Loose Objects in Vehicles?
Although most motorists fasten their seat belts to make sure they are safely restrained, they may not think to also secure loose items in their car before driving. It is not always possible to avoid car accidents, however, motorists can take preventative measures to minimize the risk of injury that loose objects in vehicles can cause.
The following are steps motorists can take to reduce the risk of injuries caused by loose objects:
- Rather than keeping purses and other bags on the passenger seat, put them on the floor in front of the passenger seat.
- Be sure bottles and travel mugs are secured and fit properly in cup holders.
- Maintain a safe, secured place for smartphones. It is always a good idea to keep them secured and also out of reach so they are not a cause for distraction.
- Use the glove compartment and center console for smaller objects, such as sunglasses and makeup.
- Use the trunk to store heavy items. If the vehicle has a cargo area rather than a trunk, use cargo nets and tethers to ensure that your bulky items will not go into the passenger area in the event of a crash.
- Be sure to keep the floors clutter-free, and check the floor mat on the driver’s side regularly to ensure it is not causing bunching or obstruction of the pedals. Periodically check for loose objects underneath the floor mat and pedals as well.
- Always make sure that all occupants have properly secured their seat belts. If any occupants are children, check their car seats or booster seats before driving to ensure they are safely secure.
- If children are not traveling in the car, remove extra car seats and booster seats that are not independently affixed to the vehicle.
- If pets are riding in the car, ensure they are restrained, either in safety-approved travel carriers or safety restraint systems or harnesses.
- Store all groceries in the trunk. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, use the back cargo area but use nets and tethers to prevent any loose objects from striking occupants up front.
- Clean out vehicles regularly, removing both small and larger items. Also, remove unnecessary heavy objects from vehicles.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me After a Car Accident?
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally. The aftermath can be an overwhelming time, with injuries to treat and recover from, medical bills and lost wages to think about, claims to file, and liability issues to consider. There are many reasons is it advisable to hire an experienced car accident lawyer after being involved in a car crash, some of which include:
- Recovering compensation after a car accident can be complicated. A lawyer will determine how much can be obtained, considering current and future medical bills, physical therapy and counseling, current and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
- Multiple insurance policy claims are often filed after a car accident, which can be confusing. Hiring an experienced lawyer who knows the proper procedures after a car accident is advantageous. This includes requesting all necessary paperwork, filing all possible claims, knowing the statute of limitations, and understanding insurance policy coverage.
- There may be other individuals and entities liable for the accident, such as the manufacturer of a defective vehicle, an auto mechanic who knowingly used damaged materials, or the manufacturer of faulty parts.
- You will be assured that the accident site will be investigated properly, police and medical records examined, witnesses interviewed, and experts consulted.
- You will be able to focus on recovering from any physical and emotional trauma. Anytime insurance companies, lawyers for other parties, drivers, or representatives request phone contact, your lawyer will handle all those calls. Your lawyer will also take care of any necessary correspondence and other paperwork.
- A skilled lawyer will help move the case along quickly and efficiently.
Baltimore Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Can Help You if a Loose Object Caused Your Accident
If you were seriously injured in a car accident involving loose objects that were not safely secured in the vehicle, you are urged to contact one of our Baltimore accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. 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.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.