In the last few years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has stated that the number of traffic deaths occurring on American roadways has decreased. However, the new data in 2015 has shown this decrease has not only stopped, but instead there has been a significant increase in the number of reported fatalities. In the first 9 months of 2015, the number of traffic fatalities increased 9.3 percent. That equates to more than 26,000 deaths. So, what causes these deaths and how can a car accident attorney help the families recover?
Negligence of Other Drivers
One of the primary causes of car accidents is the negligence of other drivers on the roadway. In fact, negligence accounts for the majority of deaths. There are so many different ways that negligence can contribute to an accident. Here are just a few examples:
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Driving while drowsy or fatigue
- Distracted driving, including texting and eating
Despite state imposed speed limits on every roadway, speeding is the most frequent moving citation given to drivers. On average, 41 million drivers get speeding tickets every year. More alarming is the number of fatalities that are reported to be related to speeding violations. In 2013, 29% of the more than 32,000 traffic fatalities were caused by speeding.
Driving under the influence
A blood alcohol level of .08 g/dL or higher is considered alcohol-impaired. In 2013, there were over 10,000 fatalities reported where at least one driver was alcohol-impaired, which equated to 31% of all traffic fatalities that year. That means there was one alcohol-impaired fatality every 52 minutes.
Distracted driving is also a form of negligence and has become a major threat to highway safety. With the increased use of cell phones the number of car accidents involving distracted drivers has increased as well. Although the campaign to put a stop to texting and driving is extensive, cell phone use is not the only form of distracted driving causing fatalities. In fact, in 2013 more than 3,000 people died as a result of distracted drivers.
Possible recovery following a car accident
The primary goal of any lawsuit is to be compensated monetarily for the injuries you sustain because of someone else’s actions. As any car accident attorney will tell you, the purpose of the lawsuit following a car accident is to make the at-fault driver to compensate you for your injuries and losses resulting from the accident. The amount and type of recover to which you may be entitled depends on many factors. In the legal arena, what you may recover is referred to as “damages.”
Economic versus non-economic damages
Economic damages are the actual financial losses that you suffer as a result of a car accident. This would include medical expenses for treatment of the injuries you suffered, lost income from missing work while recovering, the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, and other losses. This type of damages are the easiest to prove in court because you need only submit documentation to establish these expenses.
Non-economic damages are harder to prove
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are harder to prove because they are more subjective making them more difficult to quantify. Some common examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental distress, and anxiety, which can all be caused by a traumatic car accident. The best way to prove these types of injuries is through documentation from a psychologist or counselor who has provided a diagnosis and treatment for your mental anguish and emotional distress.
Damages for wrongful death
The legal concept of “wrongful death” refers to the death of a person caused by the negligence or misconduct of someone else. The dependents or heirs of the person who has died may be entitled to monetary compensation for that person’s death. Every state has its own laws that determine what is necessary to prove a wrongful death claim.
Recovery for wrongful death
In a wrongful death case, the heirs of the deceased may seek damages on behalf of the deceased and possibly compensation for their own personal losses. The purpose of the compensation is generally to help compensate for medical bills and related expenses, like funeral costs. In some states, the family may also recover for the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” the deceased person provided to surviving family members.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury issues call the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation at (888) 433-4861.
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