A preliminary analysis by the National Safety Council found some good news and bad news about 2020: while the pandemic led to fewer cars on the road and fewer total crashes, the number of and percentage of motor vehicle crash deaths increased dramatically. The percentage of car accident deaths to miles driven rose by 24%; which is believed to be the largest jump since 1924.

Here are the national numbers:

  • Total Motor-Vehicle Deaths: 42,060 (up by 8%)
  • Annual Population Death Rate: 12.8 per 100,000 (up from 11.9)
  • Estimated Mileage Death Rate: 1.49 deaths per 100 million miles (up from 1.2)
  • Estimated Vehicle Miles: 2,830,000,000 (down from 3,260,000,000)

Locally, we’re not yet sure if motor vehicle deaths increased or decreased from 2019 to 2020. We will keep an eye out for those statistics. However, vehicle traffic in the Hudson Valley, Kingston and Poughkeepsie dipped dramatically below normal levels during the months of March, April and May before recovering. If the national trends hold true, it’s possible that local auto accident deaths increased even though there were fewer cars on the road. With less traffic, drivers may have maintained a higher average speed, possibly paid less attention, and took more risks while driving. 

As one Minnesota traffic safety official said in the Wall Street Journal last April, “There’s a lot more available lane space for people to use – and abuse.”

What to do if you lost a loved one in a car accident

If you lost a loved one in a car accident, and it was due to another party’s negligence, you may be eligible to file what’s called a “wrongful death” claim. There is no possible way to make up for the death of a loved one, but there are recoverable damages that a survivor could seek from the responsible party’s insurance coverage. They include any medical bills that were incurred, funeral/burial expenses, lost wages, and compensation for the support or care that the loved one was providing. It’s also possible to recover compensation for a surviving loved one’s pain, suffering and loss of companionship.

There are five elements to a wrongful death claim:

  1. A death occurred
  2. The death was a result of someone else’s negligence
  3. If the victim had survived, they would’ve been eligible to sue for damages
  4. The victim has a surviving party that suffered a loss
  5. There are damages that are recoverable

The National Security Council made the following policy demands in light of this increase in traffic deaths:

  • Equitable implementation of roadway safety laws
  • Mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers and better education about impairment
  • Lowering speed limits
  • More automated enforcement of speeds and traffic lights
  • Banning all cell phone use
  • More enforcement of seat belt laws
  • More automated drive assistance systems
  • Stricter motorcycle helmet laws
  • Comprehensive programs for pedestrian and bicycle safety

If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you may have legal grounds to seek compensation from the responsible party. Give us a call at 845-600-0000 to get a free consultation from our experienced personal injury law firm based in Kingston, NY and Poughkeepsie.