Be Safe-Holiday Auto Accident Statistics
Auto accidents happen in Ohio everyday, but during the holiday season the likelihood of being in an accident significantly increases. Holidays are occasions to be enjoyed since it gives us an opportunity and time to visit our families and friends. Office parties other gatherings are expected and eagerly anticipated. Families take to the roadways, often traveling long distances to visit parents or grandparents. But for some, holidays turn tragic when traffic accidents result in serious injuries or fatalities.
Traffic studies conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC) looked at six major holidays to determine the worst for traffic accidents. Not surprisingly, the major factor causing accidents and fatalities in all was drinking and driving. Independence Day was the deadliest in 2013, with 540 deaths nationwide and some 58,000 serious accidents. Barbeques, fireworks, sporting events, the hot summer weather and the 4-day weekend likely account for increased traffic.
New Year’s Eve was curiously only number five of six, although researchers pointed out that the number of accidents and fatalities depended on whether New Year’s fell on a weekday or weekend. Motorists tended to drive more miles on weekends, which increases the risk of being in an injury accident.
Pedestrian vs. Motor Vehicle Accidents on New Years
Also, January 1 was far down the list for individual days when the most traffic fatalities were tallied for 2016. However, this day is not one to be a pedestrian. For the period 2002 to 2014, New Year’s Day was number one in pedestrian deaths.
While many people understand that the roadways can be filled with drunk revelers leading up to and after midnight and choose to either stay home or allow a sober driver to take them home, numerous people do make the conscious choice to drink and drive regardless. This is true even with DUI checkpoints commonly set up in areas where law enforcement expects a high percentage of impaired drivers.
Statistics from the NSC indicate that about 42% of traffic fatalities on New Year’s Eve are attributable to drinking as compared to 35% on Christmas, which is apparently the least deadly holiday for driving. Of course, New Year’s brings out the revelers, the parties and binge drinking. In cities like Dayton, the wintry weather is another major factor for hazardous driving though fewer fatalities occur on these days since many people choose not to drive.
Liability of Responsible Parties
Every motorist has a duty to exercise reasonable care when driving, which means following the traffic laws and traveling at speeds conducive to the current conditions. For example, if the speed limit is 65 mph but there is a heavy snowstorm with blowing winds, driving at this speed is extremely hazardous and shows lack of reasonable care.
If you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08%, you are driving illegally and will be charged with DUI. Even if you refuse testing, you may still be charged with DUI based on the arresting officer’s observations of your driving conduct, demeanor, responses to questions and performance on field sobriety tests. Should an impaired driver cause an accident with injuries or a fatality, the motorist faces felony DUI charges or vehicular manslaughter. Civilly, the driver could be hit with punitive damages, which are not covered by any auto liability carrier.
Ohio Dram Shop laws may also hold a bar, restaurant or club that serves alcohol liable for any resulting injuries caused by a patron to whom it served alcohol if that person was observed to be intoxicated when served. Common principles of negligence law also apply where a bar or restaurant is held to the standard of reasonable conduct or what a reasonable bartender or proprietor would do when serving a person. For instance, in a recent example, is a bar exercising reasonable care if it serves eight drinks to a patron over a 2-hour period and then allows him or her to drive home?
Private homeowners or event companies can also be held accountable pursuant to Social Host laws. Civil liability extends to these persons or entities if a minor is served or anyone else who is served improperly causes an injury accident.
Traffic Accident Injuries
Injuries from car accidents vary from minimal injuries like scrapes and bruises to the catastrophic. These include:
- Whiplash injuries or neck and back sprains and strains
- Knee joint injuries
- Neck and chest injuries from air bag deployment
- Broken limbs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Facial fractures
- Spinal injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Chest injuries including fractured ribs
Damages in Car Accident Cases
You are entitled to compensation if you were injured in a car accident from the insurer of the responsible driver, or your own liability carrier if the driver was uninsured and you have uninsured coverage. Your damages include:
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium claim by a spouse
Future lost income may be awarded if you were no longer able to work or were forced to take a lower paying job because of your disabilities.
If a loved one was killed by the negligent conduct of a motorist or that of a private homeowner, event operator, bar or other establishment serving alcohol to the motorist who caused the death of another while impaired, a wrongful death claim or survival action may be brought by the administrator or executor for the decedent’s estate. Damages may include:
- Loss of income over the decedent’s working life
- Loss of the benefits the decedent would have enjoyed such as a pension or retirement account
- Loss of the love, comfort, guidance, counsel, advice and companionship of the decedent
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering if the decedent consciously experienced it for a time before succumbing
- Punitive damages if the party’s conduct was grossly negligent
Wrongful death claims are complicated matters and proving the damages to which you are entitled can often require the services of economic and financial experts.
Retain the Services of Wright & Schulte
Wright & Schulte is an Ohio personal injury law firm who has represented the interests of persons injured by drunk drivers or those whose negligent or reckless conduct caused catastrophic injuries or death. Wright & Schulte has obtained almost half a billion dollars in compensation for injured clients in various types of personal injury accidents including those injured by drunk or impaired drivers. Contact our office today or chat with a live representative NOW, if you or a loved one was injured or killed in a traffic accident.