Latest News 2017 May Wrongful Death Car Accident Cases Are Increasing

Wrongful Death Car Accident Cases Are Increasing

Five seconds can change your life.

Five seconds is how long the average person looks away from the road whenever they glance at their phone while driving. Reading texts, checking navigation, or even switching the song takes about 5 seconds of attention away from driving.

At 50 miles per hour, you cover about 122 yards in 5 seconds—over the length of a football field. Can you imagine driving blind for 100 yards at random increments? Would you consider yourself a safe driver if you closed your eyes for 5 seconds every once in a while? Of course not—but this is exactly what people do on a daily basis.

And it's killing us.

Rising Fatal Car Accidents

The Federal Highway Administration reports that total mileage driven by Americans topped 3.148 trillion miles. That beats the last record high in 2007 (3.03 trillion). Experts believe that the lower cost of gas and rising prices of airline tickets has made people more likely to drive than fly—creating a larger population of drivers than the country has seen before.

With the rise of drivers, experts expected the death toll to rise. After all, 94% of auto accidents are caused by human error. Things like forgetting to use turn signals, not obeying stop signs or yield signs, or poor steering habits increase the risk of an accident 18x or more. The car accident fatality rate has risen by 7.2%.

What experts didn't foresee was the role that distraction would play in the rising fatality risk. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that distraction causes 10 car crash fatalities a day—and that number may be too low. The National Safety Council reports that our figures for distraction-related accidents is lower than the reality because people are not likely to report that they were distracted prior to a collision (much less a deadly one).

The Many Forms of Distraction

Distraction is not a problem that's likely to go away, either. On-board electronic dashboards, "infotainment" systems, and mental stress are powerful distractors that experts say are only going to become more common in coming years. Safety technology (also known as "semiautonomous driving technology") can be a liability for drivers, making them complacent—and thus more likely to engage themselves in other ways.

Perhaps the worst offender, however, is the smartphone. During the period where distracted driving saw its highest spike were the same years that smartphone sales increased. Since 2011, smartphone ownership climbed from 35% to 77%, with 95% of Americans owning a cell phone of any type.

Distraction Is Negligence

What does all this mean? It means that more people are dying while behind the wheel, and the cause of death is more and more likely to be distraction. An increase in preventable deaths or deaths that occur due to reckless behavior means people will turn to the law for justice. Wrongful death claims were created for just such a moment—and the courts will need to prepare to hear more of these cases in coming years, if current trends persist.

Wrongful death claims are a specific type of lawsuit unique to personal injury law—rather than being on behalf of the person who was harmed, it's filed for the family members of the deceased. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to pursue damages incurred by the death of a loved one. Its secondary, unofficial purpose is to give loved ones a sense of closure and justice for their grief.

These losses include (but aren't limited to):

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Medical costs prior to death
  • Funeral costs
  • Lost income and wages

The only people who can file a wrongful death claim are immediate family members—usually spouses, children, or parents. In rare cases a sibling or grandparent can file one as well, but usually it's a dependent of the deceased.

Regardless of what happens in coming years, people will need lawyers to guide them through their loss, meet their needs, and give them a voice. While we hope that drivers learn safer habits, frankly, people are lazy. They'll always do what's easiest, not what's best. It'll be an attorney's job to hold them accountable for that behavior when the time comes.

Categories: Deadly Car Accident