Auto accidents can happen anywhere and at any time — but some places in Florida seem to be accident hotspots.
Florida is actually infamous for its dangerous roads. On these dangerous roads, accidents are more common and tend to be more serious, too. Four of the five deadliest highways in the nation, in fact, are located in the sunshine state.
So today, we’ve put together a guide covering what makes certain Florida roads more dangerous, and how you can protect your rights if you’re injured in a Florida auto accident.
Florida Auto Accident Statistics
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida auto accident statistics are sobering:
- The latest data (2017) shows over 400,000 motor vehicle accidents occurred in Florida
- More than 686,000 drivers were involved in 2017 Florida auto accidents
- Over 250,000 people were injured, and about 8% of them were incapacitated
- 3,100+ people died in Florida auto accidents that year
This puts Florida among the top states in the nation for per capita in auto accident deaths and injuries.
Florida’s Highway System
Part of the reason for such staggering figures is that Florida simply has more square area for accidents to happen — nearly 1,500 miles of interstate highways.
Then factor in that droves of Florida interstate drivers are from out-of-state coming to enjoy the warm weather, especially in the winter. Out-of-state drivers are more likely to be disoriented and distracted, so they tend to be behind many of Florida’s auto accidents.
Florida also has several bus lines, including Megabus, Greyhound, and Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach.
So, there are a lot of roads, and a cubic ton of visitors, but what is it really that’s making the roads themselves so dangerous?
Factors Making Florida Roads More Dangerous
Besides the human factor, there are a handful of common culprits – a number of which are due to governmental issues – that increase driving risks on Florida roads over others. They include:
- Poor design and improper maintenance
- Heavy traffic and lack of barriers between directions
- Higher speed limits and more curves
Florida’s Most Dangerous and Deadly Highways
The factors outlined above affect travel over several highways in Florida, making them especially dangerous. Here are the four most dangerous interstates in the Sunshine State:
I-4 is the busiest interstate in the U.S. and is also the most dangerous in the country based on fatalities per mile. Traffic and distracted drivers make I-4 a dangerous road, especially during peak hours.
I-10 is Florida’s deadliest interstate, responsible for nearly 300 auto accident deaths annually. Most accidents on I-10 occur due to its lack of barriers, which leads to crossover crashes.
I-95 runs along the East coast for 1,040 miles, and approximately 60% of its length is heavily congested, which contributes to its distinction as Florida’s second-most deadly interstate. The stretch of I-95 through Miami-Dade and Broward is particularly dangerous, with 1.73 fatal accidents per mile annually.
The Florida Turnpike, also known as the Ronald Reagan Turnpike or Sunshine State parkway, boasts higher speed limits, more vacationers and road debris, making it particularly treacherous.
Liability in Florida Auto Accident Cases
Avoiding dangerous roads whenever possible and driving defensively can greatly decrease your risk of being involved in an auto accident. However, some accidents are unavoidable, even if you’ve done everything right.
When that happens you will first file a claim with your own insurer, regardless of fault. This is because Florida is a no-fault state.
Your claim should cover damages to your vehicle and medical care for injuries. However, if you are severely injured, you can seek additional damages from the responsible party through a personal injury suit.
While in most Florida auto accident cases, the liability falls to the driver of one of the vehicles, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, other parties are held fully or partially liable. For example:
- A vehicle owner who gave permission to the driver to operate the vehicle, especially if the driver was not licensed to drive or was impaired
- The trucking or motor coach company, if the responsible driver was an employee
- If the at-fault car had a defective part that caused the accident, the manufacturer, distributor, seller or car maintenance provider can be held liable
- If unsafe road conditions caused the crash, the government may be liable
Government Liability for Auto Accidents in Florida
The Florida Department of Transportation is responsible for the design and maintenance of most Florida roads. The government can be held liable for a car accident under the following circumstances:
- The road was not safely designed, and this design flaw led to the crash
- The road was not properly maintained, and this maintenance failure caused the crash
- A government employee caused the accident
The bottom line is that Florida roads are notoriously dangerous. Stay safe by avoiding dangerous roads whenever possible and driving defensively and without distraction.
If you’re involved in an accident, know your rights and get the compensation you deserve to recover from your injuries.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.