Motor vehicles make our modern lives possible.
We drive them to work. School buses get our children to school. Trucks deliver food to grocery stores. But they can be as dangerous as they are important to modern society. Negligence in driving, maintaining or manufacture of vehicles causes many deaths and injuries each year. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, we can help you seek compensation for your loss.
More than 30,000 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They estimate that in 2013, deaths caused in motor vehicle accidents resulted in $44 billion in medical and work loss costs, in addition to the emotional burden on the victims’ families and friends. The CDC estimates that in New Jersey from 2003 to 2012, 4,185 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents.
Figures published by the New Jersey Department of Transportation for 2014 show the following:
- There were 265,540 motor vehicle accidents statewide; Morris County had 13,278.
- 54,102 of the N.J. accidents involved injuries and 2,244 of them were in Morris County.
- Fatalities occurred in 518 crashes, 17 in Morris County.
Motorcyclists are especially at risk of death in a motor vehicle accident. In 2012 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Those deaths were about 15% of all traffic fatalities, even though motorcycles accounted for only about 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. that year.
- In 2012 about 93,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents.
- Motorcyclists were more than 26 times more likely than those in passenger cars to die in motor vehicle traffic crashes and five times more likely to be injured.
The State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General reports there were nearly 13,000 crashes in the state involving motorcycles from 2009 to 2013. If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in New Jersey, you have about an 83% chance of being injured. There were 3,921 people killed and 104,000 people injured in about 330,000 accidents involving large, commercial trucks in 2012 according to NHTSA. Most of those killed, 73%, were occupants in other vehicles. Though CMVs accounted for only 4% of registered vehicles, they were involved in 8% of all vehicle accidents causing fatalities. In New Jersey in 2012, 61 large commercial vehicles were involved in fatal accidents.
Causes of accidents
Accidents occur for many reasons. Most of them are preventable. Mistakes are made at the wrong time and the wrong place and someone is injured or killed.
Speeding is one of the most common factors in motor vehicle accidents. NHTSA estimates that in 2012 speeding (including both travelling faster than the speed limit and going too fast for conditions) was a factor in 30% of all crashes, taking 10,219 lives. The agency estimates the yearly economic loss due to speeding-related crashes is $40.4 billion. Young drivers are most likely to be involved in speed-related fatal accidents. As age increases, drivers are less likely to be involved in such accidents. Alcohol is often in the mix as well. For 2012, 42% of speeding drivers involved in fatal accidents had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter (the legal limit) or higher, compared to 16% of non-speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes
Each day in the country, on average, nine or ten people are killed and more than 1,153 people suffer injuries in accidents that involved a distracted driver, reports the CDC. They estimate that 17% of all vehicle accidents in 2011 involved distracted driving. Distracted driving includes taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off driving. Distractions can be caused by talking or texting on a smart phone, eating, drinking, conversations or keeping a child passenger under control. One survey of drivers aged 18 to 64 asked about distractions while driving in the previous thirty days.
- 69% reported they had talked on their cell phone.
- 31% reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving.
On average, almost thirty people in the U.S. are killed each day by alcohol-impaired drivers, or about one death every 51 minutes according to the CDC. The total, estimated, annual cost of alcohol-related crashes is more than $59 billion. From 2003 to 2012, 1,816 people were killed by drunk drivers in New Jersey, reports the CDC.
The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 9.9 million people 12 years old or older (3.8% of teens and adults) reported driving under the influence of illegal drugs during the prior year, reports the National Institute of Drug Abuse. That compares to a 2013 study that estimated 28.7 million people (10.9%) reported drinking and driving. NHTSA’s National Roadside Survey for 2013-2014 found more than 22% percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
About 60% of adult drivers have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and 37% have actually fallen asleep at the wheel, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll. About 13% of responders who admitted to driving while asleep stated they have done so at least once a month, and 4% admitted to an accident or a near-accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive safely. NHTSA estimates at least 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, causing about 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
Depending on the vehicle, speed, angle of the collision and whether restraints are used and air bags deployed, there could be any number of injuries of varying severity.
- A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur due to a blow to the head or because the head forcefully shakes back and forth and the brain strikes the inside of the skull. These injuries could be mild and symptoms could resolve within days, or the injury could be severe and life-changing. A TBI could cause loss of physical control, emotional, intellectual or personality changes. The ability to speak, see, concentrate and remember could also be impaired.
- Other head injuries can happen, including eye injuries that could reduce or eliminate vision; injuries to the ear could result in partial or complete deafness; facial or jaw fractures and dental injuries could result in loss of teeth.
- Of possible neck and back injuries, whiplash is the most common. This covers neck and/or back injuries caused when the neck stretches and quickly snaps back due to the force of the impact on the vehicle. Whiplash can injure the vertebrae, ligaments or disks in the spine and the spinal cord in the neck and back. This can result in paralysis or loss of function in the limbs or portions of the body. Severe chronic pain in the neck and back could also result.
- The impact of the crash could fracture ribs and/or the sternum (breast bone), especially if a driver or passenger was not using seat belts and hit the dashboard or steering wheel. Airbags should cushion the blow, but injuries could still happen.
- Hip fractures and injuries to abdominal organs are common in motor vehicle accidents, especially those involving motorcycles. The liver, spleen and kidneys can be injured in accidents where the vehicle is struck from the front or the side.
- Leg and knee injuries can be impact or crush injuries caused by a vehicle or object like a telephone pole or tree smashing into the vehicle. This can cause injuries ranging from bruises to fractured bones and meniscus tears (tearing of cartilage in the knee).
- Ankles, feet and toes can be strained, sprained, broken or even amputated, depending on the type of accident and vehicle (especially a motorcycle).
No matter what vehicle was involved, what caused the accident, or what the resulting injuries were, you should protect your rights to possible compensation by not trying to resolve your legal claims with insurance companies on your own. You could do serious harm to your claim without even knowing it. Without knowledge of negligence and insurance law, as well as the most recent legal developments and jury verdicts, you’re not likely to understand the value of your case or whether or not a proposed settlement is fair. If you have been injured or have lost a family member in a motor vehicle accident in New Jersey, we can’t go back in time and prevent the accident. But through a successful personal injury lawsuit, we may be able to recover the cost of treatment for injuries, property damage and economic losses from the responsible parties. Time limits apply, so contact our office today, 1-855-432-2489.