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Loose Objects in Cars Are More Dangerous Than You Think

July 6, 2020

When car interiors are messy and disorganized, it looks bad, causes drivers and passengers to be uncomfortable, and makes it hard to find things. Worst of all, it can even be deadly.

When a vehicle comes to an abrupt stop, everything that is inside continues moving at the same rate of speed before the car halted. Besides the drivers and passengers, this includes all of the cargo inside. Something that is seemingly innocuous, like slamming on the brakes when a dog is crossing the street, can cause loose objects to become airborne in a vehicle.

Why Are Loose Objects in Cars so Hazardous?

Vehicle and product safety group, Safety Research and Strategies, Inc., reports that 13,000 injuries are caused every year from loose objects in cars and trucks. Everyday items such as cellphones, computer tablets, and suitcases can fly forward at fast speeds when a vehicle stops. The strength of gravity can cause objects to have as much as 20 times more force than they would have otherwise. The American Automobile Association (AAA) compared a bag of groceries flying from a back seat as having the same force as falling from the top of a second-story building. Some shocking statistics:

  • In a 30-mph car accident, an object weighing only one pound can have the force of a 40-pound bag of concrete.
  • In a 55-mph car accident, a 20-pound object can have 1,000 pounds of force on impact.
  • If a car is traveling at 60 mph and suddenly stops, a 25-pound object inside the car can have 1,625 pounds of force.

What Injuries Are Caused by Loose Objects?

When loose objects become projectiles inside a vehicle, they can cause a whole range of injuries. On the mild end of the spectrum, they can cause cuts and scrapes. Sharper objects can cut through skin and cause bleeding. This is in addition to the possibilities of arm and leg injuries and back and chest injuries. Some people experience muscle strains in their necks, but an impact can also cause concussions, closed-head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.

Many do not realize that their feet can also be injured by flying loose objects in a car. If an object is in a driver’s foot space, it could become lodged under the brake pedal. This is especially dangerous since it could prevent the driver from depressing the pedal and stopping the car.

If something crushes, punctures, or strikes a person’s heel, midfoot, or toes, it could cause acute problems and long recovery times. Common foot injuries in these cases include broken or damaged bones, torn ligaments, ruptured tendons, sprains, puncture wounds, and serious swelling and bruising.

Another significant danger of loose objects is that it causes distracted driving accidents. A cellphone rolling around on the floor or a dropped food container can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road. Other kinds of distractions include assisting children in the back seat, other passengers, and reaching in the back for something.

What if a Passenger is Unrestrained?

Passengers who do not wear seat belts are also at risk for turning into projectiles when car accidents occur. When a vehicle stops suddenly, these passengers can shoot out of their seats, injuring others in the vehicle. When body parts collide at high speeds, it can be deadly.

How Can I Prevent an Accident?

Accidents caused by loose objects in vehicles are almost always preventable when drivers and passengers are proactive about staying safe. Having a cluttered car is more of a safety hazard than people realize. To get started, a thorough check and clean-up is recommended. Everything that is not safely secured should be taken out, and the interior cleaned and vacuumed. Items that have to remain inside, like a garage door opener, glasses, or GPS, should be stored in the glove compartment or other stationery storage area in the vehicle.

Heavy items, like suitcases and groceries, can be placed in the trunk or secured in place with safety belts or other restraints. Some vehicles have cargo nets and anchors, which are also helpful for securing things. Heavy, large items should be placed on the bottom with lighter ones on top. These stacks should be centered and placed by fixed components in the car. Anything that is not needed in the vehicle should be removed and left at home.

Anything else, like children’s toys or tools, should be safely put away in the vehicle’s storage compartments. It is also a good idea to check the floor mats. If they are poorly designed or improperly placed, they can slide and cause a driver to get into an accident.

When preparing to take a drive, drivers should scan the car’s interior for any loose objects left in the car and either take them out or secure them. The final step goes without saying, ensure that everyone in the vehicle is properly secured with a seat belt or a car seat.

Pet owners who need to bring their pets on rides should either use pet seat belts or pet harnesses. Like humans and loose objects, they too can turn into projectiles when cars stop suddenly or crash.

Negligence

Driver distraction is a leading cause of car accidents, whether it is from loose objects, cellphones, eating, other passengers, or anything else in the vehicle that is competing for attention. When car accidents occur, distracted drivers can be held liable for neglecting to pay attention to the road. In order to prove negligence, a plaintiff will have to focus on certain areas.

The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care. This means that no one may operate a vehicle in any way that can injure another person. If the defendant was texting while driving, speeding, or distracted by a tennis ball rolling around the floor of his or her car, this would need to be proven with evidence.

It must be shown that the defendant breached his or her duty of care. Exactly how did the defendant breach his or her duty? Perhaps he or she reached down to grab that tennis ball and took his or her eyes off the road. This is where the idea of reasonable care comes in. It is a way of looking at the situation objectively, consider how any reasonable person would have reacted in the same circumstances.

Causation is highly important when trying to prove negligence. The plaintiff needs to prove that the breach of duty of care directly caused their injuries and damages. It must be shown that if the defendant had not acted in that manner, the plaintiff would not have been hurt.

What Evidence Should Be Gathered to Prove Negligence?

Courts need to see evidence in order to rule negligence caused a wreck. Experienced car accident lawyers counsel their clients to save and organize all medical records and bills generated by medical providers and vehicle repair shops. Financial information pertaining to any resultant hardships can also help. Some car accident victims are unable to work temporarily or permanently, which can cause financial hardship. It is important to have all the documentation for this as well.

If possible, car accident victims can also take photos of the accident scene and record the date, time, location, and any other pertinent information at the scene. If there are witnesses, it can also be helpful to speak to them on the spot and get their contact information to follow-up later.

After an accident occurs and you seek medical attention, it is beneficial to immediately contact a lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you obtain necessary evidence for compensation.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Offer Skilled Legal Guidance to Car Accident Victims and Their Families

If you were injured in any kind of car accident and need experienced legal representation, do not hesitate to contact one of our knowledgeable Virginia Beach car accident lawyers. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we strive to protect car accident victims and hold responsible parties accountable. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 757-352-2237. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.


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