March 23, 2021 | Car Accidents
The Bureau of Transportation reports that over 6.75 million traffic accidents occurred in the United States in 2019. The number of people injured in traffic crashes total 2,740,000. Traffic fatalities totaled 36,096.
When you look at the numbers, your chance of being injured in a car accident is much greater than your chance of being killed. However, being injured in a car accident could result in catastrophic injuries that lead to lifelong impairments. Therefore, driving safely to avoid a car accident is always in your best interest.
What Are Your Chances of Dying in a Car Accident?
Your chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 107. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are seven causes of death with higher odds than being killed in a car crash. In fact, your odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are lower than your odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose.
The seven causes of death with greater odds were:
- Heart disease: 1 in 6
- Cancer: 1 in 7
- All preventable causes of death: 1 in 24
- Chronic lower respiratory disease: 1 in 27
- Suicide: 1 in 88
- Opioid overdose: 1 in 92
- Falls: 1 in 106
It is not too surprising that health-related causes of death topped the list of odds. However, the odds of dying in all preventable causes of death were 1 in 24.
Preventable Causes of Car Accidents
Most car crashes are preventable. Traffic accidents are most commonly caused by driver error or negligence.
Leading factors that contribute to the cause of a car wreck include:
- Speeding (factor in 26 percent of motor vehicle deaths in 2019)
- Distracted driving (factor in 8 percent of fatal crashes, but distracted driving may be vastly underreported)
- Impaired driving (28 percent of traffic deaths in 2019)
- Drowsy driving (2 percent of motor vehicle deaths in 2019)
Other preventable factors that lead to car accidents include tailgating, aggressive driving, and violating traffic laws.
Wrongful Death Claims and Car Accidents
Families who lose loved ones because of a car accident may receive compensation for their damages by filing a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death is when a party’s negligence or wrongdoing caused the death of another.
Under Oklahoma law, the personal representative of the estate files a wrongful death claim on behalf of the beneficiaries. However, a surviving spouse can file the claim if a personal representative has not or cannot be named. The next of kin has the right to file a wrongful death claim when there is no surviving spouse.
In addition to the emotional distress and grief experienced by family members, the loss of a family member can cause financial hardships for the family. A wrongful death lawsuit provides a monetary award. While no amount of money can bring back a loved one, a financial award can help ease the financial strain caused by a family member’s death.
Damages that are compensable in a wrongful death action include:
- Medical expenses incurred between the date of injury and the date of death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Mental anguish
- Pecuniary loss
In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are rare, but they can be received in cases that involve gross negligence.
Comparative Fault and Fatal Car Accidents
Comparative negligence laws reduce the compensation a car accident victim might receive for damages. If the victim is partially at fault for the car wreck, the victim’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of responsibility for the accident. Importantly, if the victim’s percent of fault is 51 percent or more, they cannot recover any money for their injury claim.
The same standard applies in wrongful death cases. If the deceased was partially to blame for the cause of the car accident, the compensation the family receives is reduced by the decedent’s percentage of blame.
Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Oklahoma
Family members generally have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. There are a few exceptions to the general rule. Therefore, it is usually best to consult with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
Filing a lawsuit may be the last thing on the family’s mind after losing a loved one. However, prompt action can mean the difference between winning or losing a wrongful death lawsuit.