Legal Guide

The Real Cost of Vehicle Accidents in the U.S.

With millions of reported car accidents across the United States each year, it is likely that an accident will happen to you or someone you love. Crashes happen when you least expect it, and they can lead to months or years of medical treatment and other losses. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of injuries and death, and they can change your life - both physically and financially. Because the cost of vehicle accidents can be so extensive, you always want to have an experienced auto accident attorney on your side.

Injuries and Loss of Life

Every year in the U.S., about 2.35 million people sustain injuries and over 37,000 die in car accidents. These crashes result in more fatalities than respiratory disease, strokes, or other serious medical conditions. The good news is that the number of traffic fatalities is steadily decreasing - from 26.4 fatalities per 100,000 residents in 1969 to 11.4 fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2017. However, accidents still result in tens of thousands of deaths per year, with many additional non-fatal injuries. These losses of life are the costliest effect of car accidents, followed closely by serious injuries that can alter your life.  

Economic Losses

Healthcare is expensive, and accident-related injuries can cause serious financial hardship. In addition, property damage and other related expenses and losses can add up, including:

  • Insurance deductibles
  • Co-pays
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Lost income from missing work
  • Increased premiums
  • Transportation costs to medical treatment

Vehicle crashes lead to about $871 billion in financial losses every year, even with the reduction in traffic-related fatalities. 

Many injuries from car accidents can make it difficult for victims to return to work. Their recovery may require them to stay home and rest, or their condition might prevent them from engaging in their usual job activities. Victims might lose their wages while they are on medical leave, and they might not even be able to return to their previous profession. This can lead to years of earnings that are less than a victim’s previous income. Financial losses due to lost employment or ongoing medical expenses can persist for years or decades after the crash. 

Non Economic losses

Not all car accident costs are tangible or measured by monetary losses. Many losses are “noneconomic,” which means the value for these losses must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Non Economic losses include:

  • Physical pain and suffering - Injuries, surgical recovery, and other medical issues can cause serious pain, discomfort, and restrictions for victims. 
  • Mental trauma - An accident and injuries can cause mental harm, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety. Dealing with a serious injury or disability can also cause mental and emotional trauma. 

Recovering Compensation after a Car Accident

Fortunately for victims, state law allows people who are hurt in accidents caused by the negligence of others to recover compensation for their accident-related losses. Typically, car accident cases are settled out of court by victims reaching a settlement agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. That said, some accident cases do go to trial.

In order to recover compensation, victims need to be able to establish that their wreck was caused by the negligence of another driver. In addition, they need to be able to prove their losses. Some of the ways that you can protect your rights and lower your costs after a car accident include:

  • Making sure that the police respond to the scene of your accident
  • Seeking medical attention and attending all follow-up appointments
  • Staying off social media after your accident
  • Not accepting a settlement offer before talking to a lawyer
  • Calling an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible

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