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Vehicle-Into-Building Crashes

Late Wednesday night was particularly surprising for Carmen Hidalgo and her husband. She was on the second floor of her West Tampa home getting ready for bed with her husband when a black sedan crashed into their front bedroom at 11:25 pm.

Elizabeth Bonilla, her next-door neighbor said, “She went down and opened the door and saw the car inside with two people inside dead. She was very nervous and couldn’t call 911. [So], the neighbors called 911.”

Thankfully, their nephew was at work because on any other night, he would have been in the bedroom.

The driver was traveling west on West Main Street, west of Armenia avenue, at a “high rate of speed” and lost control of the vehicle. The posted speed limit is 25 mph. The speeding sedan smashed into a wrought-iron fence surrounding the property and then immediately went through the front bedroom of the Hidalgo’s home, at 2535 W. Main St., police said.

The car was removed from the property about four hours later and the front year was dispersed with debris from the wreckage. An investigation is pending [1].

This is a tragic story that could have been prevented if the driver stayed within the speed limit. Speed limits are set based on the overall safety of how fast a car can reasonably go on a certain road, given all circumstances (such as pedestrian traffic, other vehicles, etc.). Unfortunately, this type of accident is something that is somewhat common because of a multitude of reasons.

Vehicle-Into-Building Crashes

The Storefront Safety Council was launched in 2011 to raise awareness about the very preventable problem that is injuring and killing people. It is compromised by a group of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds who want to end vehicle-into-building crashes. The researchers involved in this group were a part of a coalition with the Texas Traffic Institute at Texas A&M University starting in 2012 [2].

Their total of documented crashes is now well over 10,000 which helped them see the continuous trends and map the risks associated with such events. The research turns up crashes (limited to commercial or public buildings, transit stops, public areas, and other non-residential structures) using anecdotal and media reports, court records, fire department run records and publish studies. They figured that a vehicle crashes into a storefront, office, or commercial building 60 times a day causing over 4,000 injuries annually and as many as 500 people are killed each year.

Continually, the council found more comprehensive information that categorized incidents by age, cause and site type. They found:

Incidents by Cause 2013-2014:

  • Pedal Error- 34%
  • DUI- 19%
  • Operator Error- 19%
  • Traffic Accident- 11%
  • Medical- 9%
  • Ramraid- 8%

*Other statistically significant causes added in 2015 includes vehicular assault on people, reckless driving, falling asleep at the wheel, weather conditions, speeding and mechanical failure.
Incidents by Age 2013-2014:

  • 20 through 29-19%
  • Elderly- 13%
  • 80 & 30 through 39- 12%
  • 70 through 79 & 60 through 69- 10%
  • 50 through 59- 9%
  • 40 through 49- 8%
  • <19- 7%

Incidents by Site Type 2013-2014 (excluding residence):

  • Retail Store- 25%
  • Other*- 22%
  • Convenience Store- 21%
  • Restaurant- 19%
  • Office- 7%
  • Commercial Building- 6%

*Other captures bus stops, child and elder care facilities, schools (K-12), churches, medical facilities, government buildings, gas stations, banks and salons [3].

The researchers contend that they capture and analyze about 1/6 to 1/8 of all incidents that occur annually in the United States. With the statistics as they are now without the complete amount of incidents, factoring in the different categories and adding in residence, the numbers could soar into substantial numbers. Due to this alarming possibility, states are starting to introduce legislation that would help to prevent these avoidable crashes.

California’s Bill: AB 764

This bill is the first of its kind as it promotes parking lot safety through insurance discounts. This measure authorizes changes to parking lot design and/or the addition of safety barriers at all state buildings and university campuses in California, and empowers the State Commission to revise building codes to require changes to parking lot design and/or the addition of safety barriers at commercial parking lots. This legislation also amends portions of the California Insurance Code to permit insurers to offer discounts to commercial property policy holders that invest in such safety measures. In addition, the insurance provisions in AB 764 will enhance the chances of early compliance by property owners, developers, retail chains, and store and restaurant operators because it opens the door to a reduction in liability claims and savings on recurring costs from premiums.

11895.  (a) An insurer may consider the installation of vehicle barriers on a commercial property parking lot as a safety measure eligible for….a discount on the property owner’s  rates for insurance covering damage or loss to the  covered commercial property, or  liability…” [4]

States where similar measures will be put on the table as soon as 2016:

  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Florida

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA

The story about the two people involved in the accident above is a heartbreaking event that is preventable. Following the speed limit on roads, especially residential streets that are posted to prevent accidents from occurring is one way to combat such incidents. If not followed, there are newer measures being taken in government to prevent these accidents from happening. While private residences are allowed to follow any safety precaution they deem appropriate for where they are located (i.e. a blind bend or end of a cul-de-sac) by installing bars or barriers, the bill proposed by California will give businesses incentives to protect their storefronts. By offering discounted insurance rates and limited liability if the collision were to occur, many injuries can be prevented. If Florida follows California’s lead, there will be safer parking lots. Until then, vehicle-into-building crashes will have many overlapping possible claims to deal with when determining the proper lawsuit.


As you can see, even when it’s put in simple terms, it’s never easy to define beforehand how much your lawsuit is worth. It’s best to be proactive, gather solid, tangible supporting evidence and information, and present it to an attorney that is willing to listen and answer any questions to may have. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is dedicated to securing the financial compensation that wrongfully injured parties need and deserve after an accident. Whether it is damaged property, an automobile accident, or a defective product that leads to your injuries, worrying about how you’ll afford the medical expenses is the last thing any victim of negligence wants to be burdened with. For more information on personal injury cases, or to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney regarding your case today for a free consultation and case evaluation, visit our website or dial 727-451-6900.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765



[1] https://www.tbo.com/news/crime/police-driver-passenger-killed-when-speeding-sedan-hits-tampa-house-20151105/
[2] https://www.storefrontsafety.org/
[3] https://www.storefrontsafety.org/uploads/1/1/5/5/11554534/downloadable_fact_sheet.pdf
[4] https://www.storefrontsafety.org/legislation.html