The Staggering Economic Costs of Auto Accidents

In its October 2014 edition of Vital Signs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented in-depth information regarding the financial costs of auto accidents on the U.S. economy. According to the CDC, car crashes accounted for over 2.5 million visits to the emergency room and 200,000 hospitalizations in 2012 alone. These injuries are expected to add up to $18 billion in medical costs over the lifetime of the victims and to result in $33 billion in lost work and productivity. For accident victims in Houston, Texas who are affected by these catastrophic car crashes, enlisting the help of a Houston auto accident lawyer can provide added help in obtaining compensation for their injuries and losses. Texas Residents at Higher Risk Statistics released by the CDC in 2010 indicated that the state of Texas ranked second in financial losses incurred due to auto accidents with $3.5 billion in costs directly attributable to these incidents. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recorded more than 3,300 traffic-related fatalities in 2013. When the cost of these deaths is factored in to the other economic losses suffered by victims, employers and families in Texas, TxDOT estimates the total financial damages caused by vehicle accidents at $25.7 billion for the 2013 calendar year. These losses represent a serious blow to the economic health of the state of Texas and to the U.S. as a whole. Outlining the Economic Damages The costs of a single auto accident can comprise a wide range of expenditures, losses and damages. Some of the most common expenses involved in an accident include the following: • Repair or replacement of vehicles damaged in a crash • Damage to contents, including cargo for semi-truck trailers and other large trucks • Rental car expenditures during the repair process • Medical expenses for emergency room visits, hospitalizations, physical therapy and other rehabilitation regimens • Long-term nursing care in the patient’s home or in a skilled-care facility • Lost wages due to missed work time • Reduced earning potential for seriously injured or disabled accident victims • Funeral expenses and lifetime loss of earnings for those killed in auto accidents When all of these costs are figured into the economic losses sustained during a single calendar year, the resulting sum is astronomical. To put these costs into perspective, the total value of Texas oil production each year is estimated to be $100 billion. The financial losses sustained annually due to automobile accidents in the state equal approximately one-fourth of that figure. Saving Lives and Reducing Economic Costs A few simple steps could significantly reduce the number of fatalities and the economic losses sustained due to auto accidents. • Seat belts save lives and reduce the severity of injuries for those involved in car crashes. Increased enforcement of seat belt laws already on the books could potentially save millions over the course of a single year. • Mandatory implementation of systems designed to provide alerts to drowsy drivers could prevent accidents caused by fatigue. This is especially critical for drivers of 18-wheeler trucks who spend many hours on the road during a typical week. • Improved education for teen drivers that highlights the dangers of distracted driving and speeding. • Tougher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could reduce the number of accidents caused by these activities. Learning to drive defensively can also help Texas drivers to avoid accidents and to reduce the overall personal and economic costs associated with these traumatic events. If you have been financially impacted by an auto accident, consulting a qualified Houston personal injury attorney can help you obtain compensation for your losses and injuries. An experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer can provide guidance and support in navigating the insurance claim process and in achieving a fair settlement that takes into account all the economic costs of these serious accidents for you and your family.