Serious car accidents occur on Missouri roads and highways for many different reasons, but an alarming percentage of them can be traced directly to speeding. This is especially true in St Louis, which has a reputation for one of the country’s highest rates of speed-related accidents.
Driving at unsafe speeds will dramatically increase both the likelihood of getting into a car crash and the potential for the accident to cause catastrophic injuries or death. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, speeding played a factor in 48 percent of the car accident fatalities in St Louis in a recent year.
Over the last several years, speeding drivers in St. Louis caused 137 deaths. The stories behind those statistics are heartbreaking, especially since speeding is illegal, reckless, and completely preventable. This article takes a closer look at why speeding plays such a tragic role in car accidents, as well as the legal rights of injured victims and surviving family members.
How Speeding Leads to More Fatalities And Serious Injuries
Drivers exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for the conditions on the road are creating a perfect storm of factors for a horrible crash, making a collision both more likely to happen and a lot more dangerous.
Speeding decreases the driver’s reaction time and makes it more likely to lose control of the vehicle
Drivers will often have to make split-second decisions, and they’ll need enough time to respond appropriately. Excess speed makes it much harder to steer safely, especially when navigating curves or reacting to an unexpected road hazard, vastly increasing the risk of crashing.
Speeding cars have a higher stopping distance
Speeding cars take much longer to come to a complete stop, and this often leads to a worse accident. The calculation for stopping time includes both the braking deceleration distance and how long it takes the driver to react and hit the brakes.
A car traveling at 40 miles per hour needs 120 feet to stop. If that same car is going at 70 miles per hour, it takes about 380 feet, making it much more likely to either have a collision or lose control of the vehicle.
The force of impact grows exponentially with more speed
According to the basic laws of physics, the amount of energy that gets released during a collision directly correlates to how fast each car is going. If the impact speed goes up from 40 to 60 miles per hour, which is only 50 percent faster, the force of the impact will increase by a disproportionate 125 percent.
These destructive forces will cause a great deal of damage to both the vehicles and the occupants inside, resulting in more severe injuries and a higher risk of death. Safety equipment like airbags and seatbelts are also much less effective during high-speed, high-impact crashes.
Common Types of Speeding Accidents In St. Louis
Speed limits exist for a reason because of the wide range of dangerous situations speeding can cause, which include:
- T-Bone accidents: This type of accident results from the front of one vehicle colliding with the side of another, which often happens at an intersection. In this case, the speeding driver may not have been able to stop in time to avoid crashing into a car that has the right of way.
- Rear-end accidents: Speeding is known to sharply reduce the amount of time a driver has to stop, which can lead them to crash into the rear of another vehicle if they don’t slam the breaks in time.
- Head-on accidents: This tragic and dangerous type of accident carries a very high risk of fatality because of the magnitude of the forces involved. Head-on collisions happen when two cars crash into each other, often when a speeding driver tries to pass a slower driver, or loses control of their car and veers into the opposite lane.
- Rollover accidents: They can happen to speeding drivers that push their cars beyond their limits, losing control, rolling over, and causing secondary accidents for other vehicles.
The Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in St Louis
Speeding-related car accidents can happen anywhere throughout the city, but collisions are much more likely to happen in specific hotspots, such as when entering Route 141 or State Highway 44. These busy areas will challenge drivers to merge over multiple lanes, cross several bridges, or generally navigate a heavy traffic flow. The consequences can be tragic when you add excessive speed to the mix.
Some of these dangerous areas are:
- North Grand Boulevard and Montgomery Street
- I-55, from Butler Hill Road to Bayless Avenue
- The Interstate 70 Blanchette Missouri River Bridge area
- I-55 and Park Avenue
- Exiting from I-64 and Grand Boulevard
- I-70 and Salisbury Street
- I-64 and Kings Highway Boulevard
- Jefferson Avenue and I-44
How An Experienced St Louis Car Accident Attorney Can Prove Speeding
Pursuing compensation from a speeding driver will often depend on proving that they were going over the speed limit or traveling faster than was reasonable under the circumstances. In some cases, this process will be as straightforward as showing a police report with the speeding ticket issued to the other driver.
Unfortunately, it’s not always quite that easy. When this official proof isn’t available, an experienced car accident attorney will work with an investigator or accident reconstruction specialist to gather as much evidence as possible.
The proof they collect can include:
- Footage from traffic, security, or dashboard cameras that captured the accident: Some video evidence can establish speed, often by comparing how quickly one vehicle travels compared to the surrounding cars. Local businesses may have parking lot cameras that recorded the accident.
- Witness statements: Bystanders or other drivers can potentially help put together the events right before the collision, such as whether a driver was speeding past them shortly before the accident.
- Forensic examination of the crash scene: Collisions that happen at higher speeds will cause a lot more destruction, so it’s possible to gauge a speeding driver based on the severe damage that was left caused on both cars. Photos of the skid marks from the accident can indicate a vehicle that went too fast.
- On-board data from monitoring devices: All vehicles made after 2014 have an Event Data Recorder (EDR), or black box data recorder. This device kicks in during a collision and stores important information from the last five seconds, like the wheel speeds and the engine RPM. A lawyer can download and analyze these details to establish how fast the car went.
- Expert testimony: Accident reconstructionists can use special software to analyze the evidence and gather reliable data about the probable speeds involved during the collision. These expert witnesses can also provide a forensic report that explains how to interpret the evidence.
Serious Injuries Caused by Speeding-Related Accidents
Car crashes caused by speeding drivers are much more severe, with a higher risk of fatalities, than those that take place at legal speeds. Many victims may survive the accident but be left with critical injuries, expensive medical bills, and possibly a permanent disability. Some of the most serious injuries that high-speed accidents can cause include:
#1. Traumatic Brain Injury
This serious and potentially catastrophic injury is caused by blunt force trauma to the head or from the force of the brain violently striking against the skull itself. Traumatic brain injuries can happen during the initial jolt at the point of impact or from the victim’s head coming into violent contact with the dashboard, steering wheel, or window.
Brain injuries can range from relatively mild, such as a concussion with short-term symptoms, to a debilitating disruption of the brain’s normal function. Victims with a severe traumatic brain injury may experience migraines, visual impairment, seizures, memory loss, anxiety, and overall decreased quality of life. The complications from a traumatic brain injury can also significantly shorten the victim’s life span.
#2. Spinal Cord Injury
Victims of high-speed car accidents are at major risk of spinal cord damage. The worst spinal cord injuries can prove fatal, while other serious cases will lead to lifelong disabilities. Depending on the damaged region of the spine, these injuries can cause partial or full paralysis, difficulty breathing, loss of bladder control, chronic pain, and many other complications.
#3. Internal Bleeding
The forceful impact from a high-impact, speed-related car crash can be powerful enough to violently jostle the vehicle’s occupants, causing severe internal injuries and damaged organs. Broken ribs often puncture vital organs in the chest cavity, especially the lungs. Accidents can also cause liver damage, kidney damage, a ruptured spleen, and other critical injuries that require emergency trauma care.
#4. Traumatic Amputation
The impact and force of an accident may be strong enough to either sever a body part or cause so much damage that surgeons must remove a limb. Traumatic amputations could be fatal if the victim doesn’t get immediate medical treatment. These injuries will also result in a lifelong disability that forces victims to change how they handle daily activities. It’s also likely for amputees to experience nerve damage, with phantom limb pain that can be incredibly disruptive.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim if You Lost a Loved One to Speeding
The high fatality rate for speeding-related accidents in St. Louis leaves many families dealing with the loss of a loved one. This tragic situation causes both intense emotional suffering and massive financial costs, especially if the deceased was the family’s main breadwinner.
Causing an accident while speeding is considered “a negligent act” in Missouri, which means that direct family members of the deceased are entitled to seek compensation for Wrongful Death. Under Missouri law, this type of claim can be filed in civil court by the surviving spouse, parents, adult children, or adult grandchildren of the deceased, in that order of succession.
The types of damages family members can recover may include:
- Restitution for the deceased person’s lost income: Missouri allows families to sue for the value of the wages and benefits the victim would have contributed to the household if they had lived.
- Hospital, funeral, and burial expenses: Causing a fatal accident also makes the responsible party liable for covering these direct financial losses that would otherwise burden the family.
- Non-economic costs of losing the deceased family member: Missouri courts also recognize some of the unquantifiable damages that come with losing a loved one, such as the companionship, guidance, comfort, and support that the victim would have provided their family if they hadn’t passed away.
- Punitive damages: When the at-fault party was extremely reckless, the court may award punitive damages. This form of compensation sends a clear message that speeding is an unacceptable violation of public safety laws.
How An Attorney Can Help After Your Speed-Related Crash
The devastating injuries caused by a high-impact, high-speed accident may never heal. You may have suffered a permanent disability, ended up with crippling medical bills, or even lost a close family member. Under Missouri law, the person responsible for causing this emotional and financial pain can be held liable for these damages.
A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can help you seek fair compensation by:
- Investigating every aspect of the accident to gather solid evidence that the speeding driver was at-fault.
- Documenting the damages you’ve suffered, including hospital bills, projected lost income, and non-economic costs like emotional distress.
- Building an effective legal strategy for negotiating with insurance companies to achieve a fair settlement, or taking the case all the way to court if necessary.
Most car accident attorneys in St. Louis will offer their skills on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t have to pay any upfront costs for getting representation. Choose a skilled attorney with experience litigating speeding-related car crashes who can help you build a rock-solid case.