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Storefront Crashes

Storefront Crashes are Surprisingly Common

Whenever one hears about a car crashing through a building, the first thought is often “freak accident.”  But the shocking events are more common than one would think.  

In 2011, the Storefront Safety Council was formed to lower the incidents of vehicles crashing into buildings.  The incidents are preventable, yet they still regularly occur and injure and kill a not insignificant number of Americans in the places they shop, eat, or work. The Storefront Safety Council is made up of experts in parking, perimeter security, risk management, architectural design, and personal injury law. The goal of the council is to examine and analyze data, educate professionals, and look for protection and prevention strategies. 

Storefront Crashes – Statistics

The statistics show that these are not freak accidents.  Vehicles crash into buildings and cause approximately 4,000 injuries per year, and up to 500 fatalities.  The average is about 60 such crashes per day.  Crashes into commercial and retail buildings account for nearly half of these types of events, with restaurants involved around 20% of the time.

While it is easy to blame such incidents on intoxicated drivers, only about 17% of such incidents cite that as a cause.  The crashes are usually caused by driver error, such as when the vehicle operator mistakenly steps on the accelerator instead of the brake.  Pedal defects like a stuck accelerator account from some storefront crashes as well.  Rounding out the list of common causes are medical emergencies experienced by the driver and a separate accident that causes a car to be pushed into the building.

When looking at the big cause of these accidents, driver error, a significant portion of the errors are made by elderly drivers.  More than half of storefront crashes are caused by drivers that are 50 years of age or older.

Preventing Storefront Crashes

There are several steps a business can take to prevent such incidents.  One preventative measure that is gaining ground is bollard installation.  Bollards are short posts that serve as barriers that can be installed around a building.  They create a visual barrier and are made from heavy materials like cement, metal, stone, and/or industrial plastic, so they serve as physical barriers as well.

Some designers and architects are even considering the problem of storefront crashes during the planning stages and are adding such structural precautions at construction.

Who is Responsible When a Storefront Crash Occurs?

The answer may seem obvious – the driver who drove into the building is responsible and their insurance company should pay for the damage to the store and any medical expenses that resulted from the accident.  While the driver does, in almost all cases, bear responsibility, most drivers do not carry enough insurance to compensate for very high losses, such as extensive damage to a commercial building, exorbitant medical costs, or those incurred in a wrongful death matter.  

The building owner or the business leasing the building may share some liability (legal responsibility) for the incident.  It is a known fact that people drive into buildings, and if there is no effort by a building owner to prevent or mitigate the chances of such an occurrence, they may be found partially at fault and share in the financial responsibility. 

Watch the YouTube video of KCRA reporting on a car crash into a downtown Sacramento restaurant.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

Hello, and thank you for reading.  I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Sacramento, California.  For nearly four decades, I have advocated on behalf of injured Sacramentans.  If you have suffered injuries due to the negligence of another person or entity, I welcome your call.  For free and friendly advice, reach out to us at (916) 921-6400 or, if you are calling from outside the local region, toll-free at (800) 404-5400.  Our website,, also has an option for contacting us online, if you prefer.


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