While driving a car is not generally considered inherently risky, there are still far too many car accidents in Massachusetts including those that result in fatal injuries. In 2021, the most recently published year for car accident fatalities, our state experienced 413 fatal car crashes, an increase of more than 20% than in the prior year.
It is curious that car accidents in total dropped dramatically in 2020 due to the pandemic with less than 3,000 car accidents in Boston but drivers took the opportunity to speed and drive more recklessly on less congested roads with less traffic enforcement that resulted in more traffic deaths than those in past non-pandemic years. Experts expect that number to not decrease to any significant extent with more people returning to the roadways. Although there are periodic safety campaigns to address safe driving in schools and for the public, we are far from achieving Vision Zero, a global campaign targeted at achieving zero motor vehicle accidents including cyclists and pedestrians.
Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents
Any conduct by a motorist that increases the risk of an accident such as unsafely changing lanes or making a left turn without looking can cause a fatal accident. However, there are some situations where car accidents are more apt to occur:
- Speeding—this may be the number one cause of fatal car accidents as it comprises about 29% of all collisions. In 2021, speed accounted for 12,330 fatalities in the U.S. with 114 in Massachusetts. When speeding, you significantly reduce your perception/reaction time when encountering a road hazard. Any escalation in speed drastically increases the amount of force in an accident and leads to more catastrophic injuries and death.
- Distracted driving—cell phone use continues to plague our roadways despite Massachusetts implementing harsher penalties for texting or using a hand-held device. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is responsible for around 3000 deaths per year. Distracted driving also includes any activity that takes your focus and attention from driving, such as grooming, eating, talking to passengers, or turning to children in the back seat.
- Impaired driving—alcohol, hard drugs, and even prescription medication can cause drowsiness as well as impairing your judgment while driving. Impaired drivers take more risks, are prone to weaving in their lanes, unsafely changing lanes, going through red lights and stop signs, speeding, or traveling too slowly, not braking in time if at all, and passing out. Impaired driving accounts for a fatal car accident every 48-minutes in the U.S.
- Fatigue—never drive or at least pull over to the side if you feel yourself falling asleep while driving. You are also more susceptible to not seeing a hazard on the road like a cyclist or pedestrian if you are fighting to stay awake. Fatigued driving resulted in over 633 people dying in car accidents in 2020.
- Tailgating—who has not followed a car too closely or had someone drive right up to your rear bumper? Nearly 3.5% of all Massachusetts car accidents in 2017 were the result of rear-end accidents. Although the majority are fender benders, many result in serious injuries and death when a motorist has to stop suddenly, and the following vehicle has no time or space to stop in time before forcefully colliding with the vehicle.
- Merging traffic—many accidents occur when a vehicle tries to merge onto a roadway from a ramp and the driver does not yield or account for cars driving at high speeds that are approaching him, or a driver suddenly sees his exit and recklessly attempts to cross several lanes to get to it.
- Running traffic lights—when the traffic light turns amber or yellow, you are supposed to slow for an eventual stop, but far too many motorists speed up to beat the light. When a car enters an intersection a few seconds after the light has turned to red, the driver risks a T-Bone collision. Around 12.6% of all Massachusetts car collisions occur at intersections when a motorist either ignored the light or attempted to beat it.
Damages in Car Accident Injury Claims
Damages in any car accident vary from case to case, though the categories for possible damages do not. If injured in a car accident, you might claim the following damages:
- Loss of past and future medical expenses
- Loss of past and future income
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
If a fatal accident, the administrator for the decedent’s estate may claim:
- Loss of earnings over the working lifetime of the decedent
- Medical expenses incurred before death
- Emotional distress of the decedent if the decedent was observed to have suffered before succumbing
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the love, guidance, counsel, companionship, protection and assistance the decedent would have provided
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or exhibited a willful indifference to the safety and lives of others
Proving damages in any car accident or wrongful death claim can be complex and often involve experts in catastrophic and death cases. You will need the counsel of an experienced car accident attorney if you want to obtain the most compensation for your claim.
Retain a Car Accident Attorney from Burns and Jain
Any car accident injury claim should be handled by a car accident attorney who has successfully handled thousands of similar claims. At Burns and Jain, you can retain a car accident attorney with years of negotiation and trial experience who will handle your case with the competence and professionalism you deserve. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.