According to the National Safety Council, an American is killed every three minutes by a preventable accident—most often a vehicle accident, followed by drug overdoses, falls and drownings. In 2016, a person’s chances of dying in a motor vehicle accident were 1 in 102, which means that as deaths from auto accidents increase, so do wrongful death cases.
According to the National Safety Council, an American is killed every three minutes by a preventable accident—most often a vehicle accident, followed by drug overdoses, falls and drownings. In 2016, a person’s chances of dying in a motor vehicle accident were 1 in 102, which means that as deaths from auto accidents increase, so do wrongful death cases. You may wonder why there is an upswing in fatal auto accidents, when our newer vehicles come equipped with virtually every safety device, including airbags, safety belts, crash avoidance, and lane departure technology. Unfortunately, even though our vehicles have gotten safer, our citizens as a whole have become much worse drivers. We are distracted, fatigued, careless, and even reckless, and these bad habits have led to increasing numbers of fatal car accidents, thus more wrongful death claims.
Smart Phones—Number One Distraction
Our smart phones are certainly the number one distraction in our vehicles. We text, read texts, and talk on the phone, when we should be paying attention to the road and the other drivers around us. There are even apps which encourage drivers to do something other than drive. As an example, Snapchat allows drivers to take photos or videos which show the speed of your vehicle, and Waze encourages drivers to interact with one another by reporting such things as accidents and speed traps.
Lest you think your phone is the only thing getting smarter, your car is likely packed with all kinds of cool distractions. There is the radio, CD player, and the AUX cable which allows you to connect your own collection of music. Changing stations or tracks or searching for a specific song, removes your attention from driving for up to 10 seconds—the time it would take you to travel the length of a football field twice at 55 mph.
Then there is your GPS, whether a dedicated device or your phone, which allows you to program in an address—or, if you are more “old school,” you may even try to read a map while driving. If we are not interacting with technology, we may be eating an entire meal while driving, drinking hot coffee, putting on makeup, even reading. All these distractions naturally lead to more accidents, and, by extension, more wrongful death claims.
The Economy—and the Size of Your Car
While you might have overlooked this one, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that higher driver death rates are an unfortunate consequence of economic recovery. What? Yes, the report found that as unemployment rates fall (a good thing) more people are on the roadways, thus there are more auto accidents. The Institute further found that the increase in smaller cars on the roadways contributes to auto accident fatalities, as smaller cars simply do not afford the same level of protection to the occupants as larger cars. In fact, a CBS report found that the seven worst car models for driver fatalities were all classified as “mini” cars or small cars.
Driver Error and Wrongful Death
Finally, drivers themselves contribute to the auto accident fatality rate. We drive too fast, drive while fatigued or sleepy, tailgate other drivers, try to “beat” a stop light, as well as a whole host of other driver behaviors which are downright dangerous. Anytime one driver is negligent, and that negligence leads to an auto accident, and a resulting death, a wrongful death claim may be appropriate.
The wrongful conduct of a defendant in a wrongful death claim must have created a direct series of events which resulted in a death. If this is proven, the survivors of the victim are entitled to monetary damages as a result of these actions. Damages may be awarded for loss of love, companionship, comfort, affection, solace, moral support or consortium, as well as for the value of household services the decedent would have provided in the future, and the value of the financial support which the survivors would have received if there had been no wrongful death. If your loved one was killed due to the negligence of another driver, it could be beneficial for you to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney.