In January, the National Safety Council announced that in 2016, 161,374 people died from accidental injuries. That was the first year in recorded history that accidental injury was the third leading cause of death.
The NSC analysis of fatality data found accident-related fatalities increased 10 percent in 2016, compared to the previous year. In the same time period, vehicle crash deaths increased 6.8 percent. Crashes killed 40,327 people, and unintentional opioid overdoses claimed 37,814 lives.
Fatal accidents are usually preventable. But inattention, judgment errors, and outright negligence continue to cause fatal accidents year after year. In the press release about its analysis, NSC president and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said, “Our complacency results in 442 deaths each day.”
Traffic Crash Fatality Trends
Overall, U.S. motorists are safer now than they were years ago. In 1996, the crash fatality rate was 15.4 deaths per 100,000 people. In 2016, the fatality rate was 11.6 deaths per 100,000 people. But the number of crash fatalities increased in 2015, and again in 2016, which had the highest crash fatality rate since 2007.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speeding was a factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes and in 48 percent of crashes on roads with a speed limit of 55 mph or higher. Alcohol-related fatal crashes (involving drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher) have decreased in the past 20 years. In 1996, alcohol impairment was a factor in 33 percent of fatal crashes in 1996 and 27 percent of fatal crashes in 2016.
Leading Causes of Injury by Age Group
Fatal unintentional injuries vary by age group. Opioid overdose is now the leading cause of death for people younger than age 50. For children ages 1 to 4, unintentional drowning is the leading cause of accident-related death. For people older than 65, falling is the top cause of accident-related death.
Preventing Accidental Death
Understanding the causes of accidental death is the key to saving lives. Opioid overdoses have been rapidly increasing in the past few years, due to the over-prescription of narcotics, the illegal sale of narcotics, and illegally-manufactured drugs. And while most doctors enter into their profession to help people, some are more interested in making money by appealing to patients who are addicted to narcotics.
In July 2017, police arrested a Dallas doctor for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, health care fraud, and money laundering. He allegedly conspired with other doctors to prescribe dangerous and addictive drugs unnecessarily, and seven of his patients died of overdoses.
People whose action or inaction contributes to a fatal accident should be held accountable. Negligence may not necessarily rise to the level of being a criminal act, but the courts provide a way for families to pursue justice when their loved one dies in an accident. With the help of an attorney, families may pursue a claim of wrongful death against the party or parties who caused the fatal accident.
If you believe you might have a case, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. Call today at (855) 414-1012 or fill out our online contact form to find out how we can help you.