Recently released statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that more than 20,000 people have died in motor vehicle accidents in the first half of 2021 – about 3,000 more than the first half of last year.
Despite fewer cars on the road during the pandemic’s close-down in 2020 and more people working from home still today, the number of deaths has not taken a corresponding decline in the last two years. Some experts believe that less traffic and more wide-open roads encourage some drivers to speed and drive in other reckless manners.
Fatality Records Set in 2021
The number of fatalities makes this year’s first half the deadliest since 2006 and the highest half-year percentage increase ever recorded by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). There is yet another dubious record. Fatalities in the second quarter of 2021 represent the highest second quarter in more than 30 years and the highest quarterly percentage change in recorded FARS history.
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) offers the only glimmer of positive news. The fatality rate per 100 million VMT dropped when comparing Q2 of 2021 (1.38 deaths) to the same period last year (1.46 deaths). June 2021 showed the sharpest decline.
Georgia’s Fatality Rate in Vehicular Accidents
The Southeast in general (Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee) was higher than the national average. The raw numbers reflected an 18.3% increase nationally while the Southeast’s fatality rate soared 22% for the first half of 2021. More than 1,400 people have died this year on Georgia’s roads.
States with the most crashes with fatalities are as follows:
- Texas (3,305)
- California (3,259)
- Florida (2,915)
- Georgia (1,407)
- North Carolina (1,321)
The number of crashes is changing but the reasons behind the crashes aren’t. The most common causes of vehicle crashes include the following:
- Distracted Driving
- Auto Defects
- Bad Weather
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that the cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage in the first half of 2021 was more than $240 billion. The NSC’s numbers are higher than statistics from the NHTSA because the NSC includes death in driveways, parking lots, and other private spaces. The NSC also counts deaths that occur up to a year after a crash, where NHTSA only counts fatalities that occur within 30 days of the crash.
Car Accidents May Qualify for Personal Injury Claims
Some accidents are simply that, accidents. Yet some accidents are caused by the carelessness of others. Depending on the situation, an accident may qualify for compensation as a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
A fatality in a car accident caused by a drunk driver is a potential example. In Georgia, about 25% of car accident fatalities involve alcohol.
Wrongful Death Claims
In Georgia, a wrongful death occurs when one person dies as the result of the legal fault of another. In these cases, the court may award financial compensation – damages – to the deceased’s survivors. The person allegedly at fault may also face criminal charges and penalties as well. There are two types of damages that the defendant can be ordered to pay. The first type of damages is to compensate for lost wages and benefits the deceased would have probably earned if they had lived. Lost companionship and counsel can be factored into these awards. The second type is to pay for medical expenses the deceased occurred before they died as well as funeral and burial expenses.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Not all serious accidents result in death but could cause significant injuries and property damage. If you were injured or had property damaged in a car accident that was caused by another’s negligence or careless behavior, you might have the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Both personal injury and wrongful death cases require the petitioner to prove with a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent is responsible for causing the accidents. Personal injury cases in Georgia also follow comparative negligence rules. If a jury determines you are equally or more at fault for the accident, you will not be eligible for damages. If you are 49% or less responsible for what transpired, then you could be awarded compensation but at a rate reduced in alignment with your percentage of accountability.
Statute of Limitations
The state limits how long anyone has to file a lawsuit following a death. In most cases, survivors have two years following the date of the death. If the death also resulted in a crime, then the two-year statute does not begin counting until the criminal case is resolved. The statute also allows for a pause of up to five years if the estate has not been probated.
Personal injury cases also have a two-year window in which lawsuits can be filed, beginning with the date of the accident.
Legal Counsel Focused on Maximum Compensation
At Hasty Pope Davies, LLP, our attorneys know the stress an injury or death can cause a family and loved ones. Financial and emotional challenges weigh heavily on everyone. When someone’s haphazard behavior is the reason behind the loss, there are avenues of recourse.
If we take your case, you can be assured that we will aggressively fight for the compensation you rightly deserve. Money does not erase what happened, but it can reduce the anxiety and worries that accompany accidents.
Schedule your case evaluation today. Contact us online or call (770) 741-1951.