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Financial costs of car accidents for victims and others

Car accidents can inflict incalculable physical and emotional damage upon the people involved in them, but the financial ramifications stemming from these accidents can be manifold and measured. Recent studies indicate that a car accident happens every 14 seconds in the United States, and the average liability claim for injuries suffered in an auto accident is more than $14,600. Furthermore, according to the Insurance Research Council, medical expense associated with accident victims are rising at a clip outpacing inflation.

Reportedly, accident victims pay around one-fourth of the expenses directly related to motor vehicle accidents, while private insurance companies pay about 50 percent. However, when taking into account indirect expenses as well, the bulk of the total cost of auto accidents is paid by society at large in the form of taxes, insurance premiums and man-hours lost to travel delays, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

As tallied in police reports, there were 5,419,000 traffic crashes in 2012. Yet, the NHTSA estimates that some 10 million accidents go unreported every year.

Authorities cite speeding and alcohol as contributing factors in many United States traffic accidents. The NHTSA estimates that drunk driving may have cost the economy up to $199 billion in 2010, and fatalities due to driving under the influence of alcohol comprised 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2012. Moreover, statistics indicate that 42 percent of drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents were speeding at the time of the incident.

As these statistics indicate, auto accidents are not rare occurrences, and they may prove to be exceedingly costly. People who suffer injuries in accidents caused by the actionable behavior of other parties should not have to bear the responsibility of many of these costs; and, by retaining a personal injury lawyer and filing suit, they may seek to hold the at-fault parties liable. If successful, claimants in personal injury lawsuits may be awarded restitution for the pecuniary damages they suffered in relation to the accident.

Source: Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, “Cost of Auto Crashes & Statistics”, September 29, 2014

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