77-year-old Ruth Windham’s 2008 Buick SUV went over a guardrail on the Polk Parkway after an accident near the Cleveland Heights Boulevard bridge. News reports indicate that she made an improper lane change striking the right front of a 2014 Nissan SUV driven by Melissa Woo. Windham was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center with serious injuries. The accident caused Windham’s vehicle to spin and ultimately fall off the bridge. The accident happened at approximately 5:00 p.m. on December 20, 2016.
Florida’s Improper Lane Change Law
Section 316.085(2), Fla. Stat. requires a driver changing lanes to abide by the following:
No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course in any lane on any highway until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that the move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.
SUV Dangerous Blind Spots
While Ms. Windham is ultimately responsible for this crash because of an improper lane change, it can be gleaned from the news reports that Ms. Woo’s vehicle was in Ms. Windham’s blind spot at the time of the crash. Otherwise, if Ms. Windham had seen Ms. Woo’s vehicle, then she most likely would not have changed lanes. This case is a reminder of the dangers of riding in someone’s blind spot. If at all possible, you should avoid staying in someone’s blind spot for too long because they might not perceive you there if they decide to change lanes. I suspect that is what happened in this case. Further, some SUV’s have large blind spots due to the way that their rear window pillars are shaped. This is why it is usually worth the extra money when buying a new vehicle to purchase the option for blind spot or lane change warnings. The blind spot or lane change warning systems typically operate with a camera or radar to detect the presence of another vehicle in your blind spot. I have this feature on all of my family vehicles and it provides a reassuring level of comfort when changing lanes. Prior to the availability of such systems, almost all of us have probably sought to change lanes and didn’t notice someone in their blind spot. In those days, a small honk of the horn or continuously looking as you changed lanes was usually enough to save you from disaster.
Some Injuries Manifest After A Day Or Two
While Ms. Woo may not have reported an injury to the police, she may have just been feeling the adrenaline boost of the incident and is lucky to have her life after an accident such as this one. Once the dust settles and everything cools down, it is common to experience pain and discomfort that was not immediately felt at the scene of the accident. Florida no-fault benefits are available within the first 14 days after an accident to obtain medical treatment. If the 14 days expires with no medical treatment being sought, then the no-fault benefits disappear. In addition, the insurance company for Ms. Windham will likely pay Ms. Woo for any claim of injury or damage as a result of this accident.
Talk to a Lakeland Personal Injury Attorney If You Have Been Injured
— Lakeland Fire (@LakelandFD) December 20, 2016