WHY ARE MORE PEOPLE DYING ON U.S. ROADS?

Every year, car accidents serve as a leading cause of death in Tennessee, Mississippi and throughout the country. Unfortunately, recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data suggests that the problem is getting worse.

According to the NHTSA’s final 2015 statistics, 35,092 people died in traffic crashes in the U.S. over the course of the year, marking a seven percent increase from 2014.

Those numbers continue to rise. In the first half of 2016, the nation’s traffic fatalities went up more than 10 percent when compared to the first half of 2015, according to Reuters.

DOES MORE TRAFFIC LEAD TO MORE ACCIDENTS?

Several factors contribute to this alarming rise in traffic crash fatalities.

For example, in recent years, the U.S. economy improved. At the same time, gas prices went down. Those two factors likely caused more people to be on the road, driving more often and driving longer distances. Typically, when traffic increases, the number of traffic accidents goes up as well.

However, the problem goes beyond the fact that more people drive today. Instead, the problem is how they drive.

According to the NHTSA, the rate of highway deaths per vehicle mile traveled rose by 3.5 percent in 2015, marking the biggest increase in the last 25 years.

Those statistics indicate that people may simply drive more carelessly and recklessly than before.

COULD DISTRACTED DRIVING BE THE PROBLEM?

Distracted driving may heavily contribute to the nation’s recent spike in traffic fatalities.

As Knoxville’s WVLT-TV reported in April 2016, citing figures from AAA, “[m]ore than 102,000 traffic crashes have been caused by distracted drivers in Tennessee in just the past five years.”

Distracted driving can take many forms. However, the use of cell phones and other hand-held electronic devices presents, by far, the biggest accident risk.

You should never use a cell phone or other device while behind the wheel of a car. Still, far too many drivers convince themselves that they can sneak a quick glance at their phone for a second or two while on the road.

The reality is that, no matter your experience or skill level, this type of behavior is incredibly dangerous.

All drivers in Tennessee and Mississippi have a duty to keep their full attention on the road at all times. When a person drives while texting or talking on a cell phone, that person clearly fails to live up to that duty. That person can and should be held accountable if his or her negligent driving causes another person to suffer serious injury or death.

WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?

As the above NHTSA data reveals, our roads may be more dangerous than ever before. For this reason, you need to know what to do if you are involved in a crash. Follow these four important steps:

  1. SEEK PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ATTENTION.

    All victims of serious auto accidents should seek medical attention without delay.

    You need to protect your health. Many common car accident injuries come with a delayed onset, including whiplash, back strains and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). You may also be in shock after a crash and unable to recognize that you are injured. For this reason, a medical professional should examine you as soon as possible after you are in a crash.

    Seeing a doctor is also important for your car accident claim. You can only recover compensation for your injuries to the extent that you can prove your damages. A comprehensive medical examination can help to establish the nature and extent of your injuries and the fact that your injuries arose from the car accident.

  2. GATHER AND PRESERVE EVIDENCE.

    You should collect all evidence related to your car accident and the injuries which you have sustained. For example, you should hold on to any photos of the crash scene and any photos of your injuries. You should also keep contact information of anyone who witnessed the crash. Finally, store copies of all medical bills, receipts from other accident-related expenses and letters you have received from insurance companies.

  3. BE CAUTIOUS WHEN SPEAKING WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY.

    Injured car accident victims often must deal with insurance companies. Whether you are working with your own insurance company or the insurance company of another driver, you must be ready for the challenges you are likely to face.

    Unfortunately, the insurance company is not on your side. The insurer will look for ways to keep your settlement offer down or to deny your claim outright.

    When dealing with the insurance company, please keep these tips in mind:

    • Choose your words carefully. The insurance company will try to use your words against you. For this reason, you should decline to give a recorded statement without talking with your lawyer first. If you have any conversation with an insurance company, stick to the facts. Do not give any opinions on the cause of the accident or your injuries.
    • Take your time. Insurance companies try to jump on victims soon after a crash when victims are in a vulnerable state. If you are not ready to talk, you do not have to do so. You can simply decline to speak and refer the insurer to your lawyer.
    • Do not sign anything. Whether it is a settlement agreement or a release for your past medical records, please do not sign any documents from the insurance company without first speaking with your attorney.
  4. CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER.

    Your insurance company will be focused on protecting its profits. Your lawyer will be focused on protecting you and your best interests. This is why you should seek assistance from an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after you are involved in a crash.

Contact the Law Office of David E. Gordon. We have a compassionate legal team with an extensive background in helping car accident victims in Memphis and surrounding areas in Tennessee and northern Mississippi. We can provide a free consultation today.