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


Traffic accidents happen when you least expect them, and you can suddenly face many financial losses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that vehicle accidents costs top more than $870 billion in the U.S. each year.

While the financial expenses after a crash are considerable, the real cost of vehicle accidents involves serious injuries and the loss of life. If you have been injured in a car accident, you likely are facing significant costs and losses of your own. You should always consult with a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles as soon as you can about your legal rights to compensation. Our team at Blair & Ramirez LLP is ready to help. Contact us today.

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Injuries and Fatalities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 169,900 people die from accidental injuries each year in the United States, making it a leading cause of death. Accidental injuries kill more Americans than serious medical conditions like stroke, respiratory disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 44, and car accidents are the leading cause of accidental injuries. About 37,000 people die in crashes on an annual basis. For people who do survive, 2.35 million sustain injuries in car crashes—in many cases, disabling injuries.

Like any other trend, you can see how the rate of car accident fatalities has changed over the past 50 years:

  • In 1969, 26.4 per 100,000 people died in vehicle accidents.
  • In 1999, the rate fell to 15.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • In 2017, the rate decreased even further to 11.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

This decrease in the traffic-related fatality rate may be attributable to stricter seat belt laws, greater vehicle safety awareness, safer roads, increased safety features, safer vehicle designs, and more.

Despite all of the above improvements that work to curb the loss of life from car crashes, our modern society faces a new risk: distracted driving. Technology and the rise of smartphones have created an epidemic of distracted drivers, which has led to an increase in car accidents.

The NHTSA reports that 3,166 people died in accidents involving at least one distracted driver in a single year. Drivers are more likely to become distracted due to smartphones, in-car touchscreens, longer commutes, and other factors. More and more drivers are checking email, texting, or even browsing social media while they are behind the wheel, which takes their eyes and focus from the road and leads to a number of crashes.

While distracted driving is a common focus for traffic safety campaigns in 2019, it is far from the only cause of car crashes. Many other accidents still result from factors that have been around as long as there have been cars:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Drowsy driving and falling asleep at the wheel
  • Aggressive or reckless driving

Commercial Vehicle Accidents

Because of their large size compared to smaller passenger vehicles, commercial trucks and buses have a considerably higher risk of causing fatalities and severe injuries in crashes. Furthermore, the NHTSA reports that the percentage of fatal vehicle accidents involving commercial vehicles has gone up 42 percent since 2009. Truck accidents also resulted in approximately 116,000 injuries in 2017 alone. These deaths and injuries may be increasing for several reasons, including:

  • More trucks sharing the roads with smaller cars
  • Increased driver fatigue due to long hours on the road
  • Less regular truck or bus maintenance

After a crash involving a commercial vehicle or truck, victims should immediately call an experienced truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles to talk through their next steps. We offer a free consultation here at Blair & Ramirez LLP—call us.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclists do not have seat belts, airbags, or other safety features that may save lives in the event of a normal vehicle crash. For this reason, motorcyclists make up 14 percent of fatalities from vehicle accidents, with 5,286 motorcyclists dying on the road in 2016. Even without considering mileage, fatal motorcycle accidents happen 28 times more than any other type of vehicle accident death, and motorcycle crashes often result in devastating losses.

Economic Costs of Crashes

While the loss of human life is certainly the greatest and most tragic outcome of traffic crashes, the economic costs can also be devastating for accident victims and their families. Consider the following:

  • In the United States, accidents cost a total of $871 billion each year.
  • Upwards of 68 percent of that cost stems from injuries or deaths, not property damage.

To give you a sense of the scope of these costs, consider how they stack up to other large figures:

  • In 2017, the total cost of 16 hurricanes was a record-breaking $306.2 billion. That’s still about $600 billion short of what vehicle accidents cost every single year.
  • The cost of accidents also eclipses the combined military spending budget of the United States, which was $598.4 billion in 2015.
  • The annual cost of accidents nearly meets the March 2019 market value of Amazon, estimated at $874.7 billion.

Individuals pay about one-quarter of these costs out-of-pocket, while insurance companies cover the rest, often resulting in increased premiums for consumers who already pay an average of $1,621 per year for coverage.

Contact Blair & Ramirez LLP—top Los Angeles Auto Accident Lawyers—for more information today

It is important to know when to when to hire a lawyer for an auto accident and how to find a good auto accident lawyer to ensure you get the financial recovery you need to cover your costs. The right lawyer can assist with your insurance claim and an injury lawsuit, allowing you to focus on your physical recovery without as much financial stress.

If you are looking for an auto accident lawyer in Los Angeles, look no further than Blair & Ramirez LLP. Call for a free consultation with our experienced legal team at (213) 568-4000, or contact us online.

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