What Are the Odds of Dying in A Car Crash?
Since 2014, over six million motor vehicle accidents have been reported in the United States each year. In 2019 alone, there were 6,756,000 traffic accidents nationwide. The result was 36,096 traffic fatalities and 2.74 million injured persons. With such a high rate of accidents occurring each year, you may wonder: “what are the odds of dying in a car crash?”
Odds of Dying in a Car Crash Compared to Other Causes of Death
The National Safety Council (NSC) calculated the lifetime odds of dying from selected causes. In 2019, your odds of dying in a car accident were one in 107. Dying in a motor vehicle crash was eight on the list of causes of death.
The other seven causes of death examined were:
- Heart disease (1 in 6)
- Cancer (1 in 7)
- All preventable causes of death (1 in 24)
- Chronic lower respiratory disease (1 in 27)
- Suicide (1 in 88)
- Opioid overdose (1 in 92)
- Fall (1 in 106)
Most traffic accidents are the result of negligence or carelessness. In other words, traffic accidents are preventable in most cases. Drivers make mistakes or engage in dangerous driving behaviors that increase their risk of being in a car accident.
Common Causes of Car Crashes in the United States
The most common causes of automobile accidents include:
Speeding was a factor in 26 percent of the fatal auto accidents in 2019. As the vehicle speed increases, the chance of being in a crash and sustaining severe injuries increases. In 2019, over 9,475 speeding-related deaths were reported.
Distracted driving continues to be a contributing factor in many motor vehicle accidents. In 2019, distracted driving was a factor in six percent of fatal traffic accidents.
The most common distraction was daydreaming or being lost in thought, followed by:
- Cell phone use
- People or objects outside of the vehicle
- Vehicle occupants
- Using or reaching for a device
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting vehicle controls
- Moving objects in the vehicle
Any activity other than focusing on the road has the potential to be a deadly distraction.
Drunk and drugged driving continue to be a problem throughout the country. Each day, approximately 28 people die because of a drunk driving accident. In 2019, approximately 10,142 people died in drunk driving accidents.
Impaired drivers typically face criminal charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The criminal penalty increases if someone is killed or severely injured because of a drunk driving accident. Likewise, drunk drivers may also be held financially liable for the damages caused by a DUI accident.
Drowsy driving caused 697 deaths in 2019. When a driver is fatigued or drowsy, their ability to operate a motor vehicle can be severely diminished. Moreover, the chance of falling asleep at the wheel increases, and reaction times and judgment can be severely inhibited.
Failing to Follow Traffic Laws
Many accidents are caused by failing to follow traffic laws. Failing to yield the right of way, improper lane changes, and following too closely are common causes of traffic accidents. Other factors might contribute to the causes of these types of accidents, such as drunk driving and distracted driving.
All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a manner that is safe and does not place others at risk for injury or death. If the driver fails in that duty of care, the accident victim may sue the driver for damages.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim or Personal Injury Claim
When a car accident injuries a person, that person may file a personal injury claim seeking compensation of damages.
If the other driver is entirely at fault for the cause of the crash, the accident victim may demand full compensation for damages, including:
- The cost of medical treatment and care
- The cost of personal care and in-home health care
- Permanent disabilities and impairments
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of income and benefits
- Decreases in future earning potential
- Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life
When a person dies in a car accident, the family may file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. The wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the family members for damages arising from their family member’s death.
Damages in a wrongful death case may include financial losses, such as loss of income and funeral expenses. The family may also receive compensation for the loss of companionship, support, guidance, and care from their loved one.
Lawsuits related to car accidents must be filed within a certain period after the car crash to satisfy the statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit seeking wrongful death or personal injury damages before the deadline, you give up your right to pursue an action in court. Seeking legal advice as soon as possible after a car accident is generally in a person’s best interest.