Based on preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there was an increase in motor vehicle accident fatalities of about 7.2 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, even though the miles traveled decreased by 13.2 percent. The projected fatality rate for 2020 has been the most significant increase since 2007. The NHTSA also generated reports by region, with preliminary data showing that in Florida, fatal accidents also increased from 2019 to 2020. According to the NHTSA, statistics for fatal car crashes include the following facts:
- A total of 30,000-40,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes every year
- The breakdown of persons killed in traffic crashes includes the following: drivers: 50 percent; passengers: 17 percent; pedestrians: 16 percent; motorcyclists: 14 percent; Pedal Cyclists: 2 percent
- Per 100,000 population, persons 21 to 24 years old had the highest fatality rate. Children 5 to 9 years old had the lowest fatality rate per 100,000 population.
- For every age group, the fatality rate per 100,000 population was lower for females than for males.
- Of the persons who were killed in traffic crashes each year, close to 29 percent died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
Top Reasons For Fatal Car Accidents
Fatal car accidents may involve reckless driving and other driving behaviors. Some of the most common reasons for fatal car accidents include the following:
- Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted speed limit
- Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication
- Failure to keep in proper lane or running off-road
- Failure to yield right of way
- Distracted (phone, talking, eating, etc.)
- Operating the vehicle in a careless manner
- Failure to obey traffic signs signals or officer
- Operating vehicle in an erratic, reckless or negligent manner
- Vision obscured (rain, snow, glare, lights, buildings, trees, etc.)
- Drowsy, asleep, fatigued, ill, or blackout
- Driving wrong way on one-way traffic way or on the wrong side of the road
- Swerving or avoiding due to wind, slippery surface, vehicle, object or pedestrian in the roadway, etc.
- Making an improper turn
Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Auto Accident
A traffic accident that causes the wrongful death of a loved one may leave the surviving family members in a state of shock and sadness. A family may be unsure how to emotionally and financially deal with their loss. It is important for someone in this position to contact an experienced trial attorney to help them navigate the legal process following such a tragic death of a loved one.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act, as contained in Florida Statutes section 768.16, provides a legal basis for pursuing a lawsuit after a loved one has died in a traffic accident. After an accident involving negligence, such as a car accident, the party responsible for the accident may be sued for damages. To prove that the defendant is liable, the family must prove the death was caused by that person’s wrongful act or negligence. Florida law requires that the personal representative, also sometimes called an executor, file the wrongful death claim. This personal representative is acting on behalf of all those who may be beneficiaries of the claim, such as surviving family members. It is important to note that a wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit, distinct from a criminal lawsuit. The lawsuit is filed in order to recover damages solely in terms of financial compensation that the court will order the defendant to pay the deceased survivors. The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim includes two years from the date of the person’s death.
Damages in a wrongful death car accident lawsuit may include:
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
- Medical and funeral expenses paid by a surviving family member.
- Children of the victim can receive damages for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance
- Loss of consortium
The deceased person’s estate may also recover certain types of damages, including:
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings from the date of the person’s injury to the date of his or her death
- The value of earnings and benefits the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to retain as savings and leave as part of the estate if he or she had lived, and
- Medical and funeral expenses that were paid directly by the estate.