According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), around 36,000 individuals died in traffic accidents annually in the last few years. However, preliminary figures show a dramatic increase in annual deaths in 2020, with an estimated 42,060 traffic fatalities. When examining how many people die in car accidents each year, it is important to note that the families of victims could have legal recourse.
When a loved one passes away in a car accident, the survivors not only experience heartbreak and emotional turmoil but could also face extreme financial hardship. If someone else is legally responsible for your loved one’s accident and death, you could qualify for compensation. Morgan & Morgan’s tenacious and compassionate attorneys want to help you. Contact us today for a free case review to learn about your legal rights.
Who Is Most at Risk of Dying in a Traffic Accident?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for those aged between one and 54 years in the US. The National Safety Council (NSC) calculated the risk of dying in a motor vehicle crash as one in 107. The estimated cost to society from traffic fatalities and injuries totaled $474 billion in 2020 alone.
When excluding health reasons, dying from a car crash is the third leading cause of death, behind only suicide and dying from an opioid overdose. While we are all at risk of getting injured or dying in a car accident, some factors can increase or lower that risk, such as age or driving habits.
The Driver’s Age
A driver’s age predicts their risk of dying in a car accident. Teenage drivers tend to have a much higher risk of being involved in a fatal car accident. The risk then decreases until drivers are much older. Individuals over 75 years of age have a higher risk of dying in a car accident.
The Driver’s Gender
The gender of the driver also plays an important role in traffic accident death risks. Male drivers are much more likely to die in a car crash compared to females.
Driving habits and behavior are crucial for road safety. Most accidents are caused by driver error or risky driving behaviors, which include:
- Distracted driving
- Generally driving dangerously
- Failure to yield
- Ignoring traffic signals and signs
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Many fatal accidents involve alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 people die every day on US roads due to a drunk driver.
Amount of Driving
The more miles you put on the clock, the more your risk of being involved in a fatal accident rises. Consequently, those who commute great distances by car every day are at a higher risk than those who work from home and only use their car occasionally. Those most at risk can include commuters, rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, and others who drive as part of their job duties.
Fatalities Are More Likely in Certain Types of Crashes
When looking at how many people die in car accidents every year, it becomes clear that some accidents produce more fatalities than others. For example, most rear-end accidents occurring in urban areas at a low speed typically cause little more than property damage and inconvenience. However, the following accident types can have a higher probability of involving fatalities:
- Single car accidents
- Head-on crashes
- Accidents involving large trucks
- Multi-vehicle pileups
- T-bone accidents
Common Fatal Car Crash Injuries
Serious car crashes can cause catastrophic injuries for car occupants. Some of the more common accident injuries that could lead to fatalities include:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries, typically caused by trauma in an accident, can be mild or severe. A severe TBI can lead to the brain shutting down and cause unconsciousness, coma, and death of the individual affected.
Spinal Cord Damage
The impact of a severe car crash can lead to spinal cord injury or severance. Significant damage to the spinal cord, involving nerve endings, could paralyze an individual for life. A completely severed spinal cord could have fatal consequences.
Internal organ injuries or internal bleeding can be difficult to diagnose. Therefore, internal injuries may not be identified immediately, increasing the potential for fatalities.
In a high-impact car accident, fractures are a common injury. While fractures are not normally life-threatening, they can cause fatal injuries occasionally. For example, a broken rib, normally a harmless injury, could puncture the heart, lungs, and other essential organs and require emergency treatment.
While not all of these common car crash injuries are immediately fatal, they can shorten the life expectancy of car crash victims. Moreover, medical costs for serious car crash injuries can be astronomical and lifelong. If your loved one was badly injured in a car accident or passed away from their injuries, a lawyer from our firm could help you recover compensation.
What to Do if Your Loved One Passed Away in a Car Accident
Losing a loved one in a serious car accident is a huge shock for the whole family. It is natural to feel overwhelmed by the emotional impact and the formalities that arise after a loved one’s death. However, taking action to protect your legal rights can be important for rebuilding your life without your loved one. Consider taking the following steps:
Keep Records of Accident-Related Costs
Car accidents can be hugely expensive. Victims of crashes and their families could be faced with various expenses and monetary losses such as:
- Vehicle damage
- Pre-death medical treatment costs
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income from the deceased
Since you could have legal recourse and pursue compensation, ensure to record your expenses carefully. Keeping the relevant receipts and statements can prove crucial for obtaining what you deserve.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If your loved one died in a car accident, getting legal advice as soon as possible can be vital for protecting your rights. A car accident attorney can evaluate your case and provide invaluable advice on your next best steps in a free consultation. If you are going forward with legal action, they can help progress your case by:
- Investigating the crash to establish the facts and fault
- Identify all at-fault parties in the accident
- Calculate your damages and estimate the worth of your case
- Communicate and negotiate with the insurance company
- Represent you aggressively in court
Our car accident lawyers can manage your case from beginning to end, allowing you to grieve with your family during this challenging time. While nothing can turn back the time and bring back your loved one, our attorneys can fight for the financial reward you need to go on with your life after a tragic loss.
You Could Have a Wrongful Death Case
When a loved one passes away due to a car accident and another driver is at-fault for the accident, you could pursue a wrongful death claim. Drivers are, by law, obligated to act with reasonable care when operating a vehicle. A driver who got behind the wheel drunk or generally drove recklessly when causing your relative’s death could be responsible for your financial losses. One of our wrongful death lawyers can determine whether you have a case and how to proceed with recovering your due.
Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases
The wrongful death of a loved one can cause financial chaos and an uncertain future for the entire family. Generally, the family members of a deceased car accident victim could recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages, depending on their case.
Economic damages are designed to compensate the surviving family members for their financial losses due to the death of their loved one and can include:
- All healthcare costs prior to death
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of income from the deceased
- Loss of benefits such as health insurance and pension
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of goods and services from the decedent
Non-economic damages do not come with receipts or dollar amounts as they relate to intangible losses such as emotional distress felt by the surviving family members. Non-economic damages you could receive with a wrongful death lawsuit could include:
- Emotional pain and suffering felt by the survivors
- Loss of care and guidance from the deceased
- Loss of companionship
Punitive damages are relatively rare and usually awarded as punishment by a court if the defendant acted particularly egregiously or recklessly.