Auto Accidents: Everything You Need to Know

Next time you’re on the road, watch out – auto accidents are more common than you may think. Here are just a few of the alarming stats about auto accidents:

  • On average, about 6 million auto accidents tally up in the US each year.
  • 40% of accidents result because of alcohol, but texting is also a culprit. Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to crash than people who leave their phones in the glove compartment while they’re at the wheel.
  • 6% of auto accidents result in fatalities, and 90 people die in the US every day because of an accident.

At first glance, those stats don’t look all that bad. “6%” and “90 people” seem like relatively lowball figures when you keep in mind that 100% of the US population is 325 million people.

But those numbers stack up, quickly. In 2016, there were 37,461 deaths from auto accidents alone. That’s a sizable chunk of the 161,374 people who died from the third-leading cause of death in the US in 2016, “Accidents (unintentional injuries).” (Heart disease, the leading cause of death, clocked 635,260 deaths that year.)

Zooming in on Louisiana (pop. 4.6 million): There were 704 fatal crashes in 2016, resulting in 757 deaths. On average, that’s 16.2 deaths per 100,000 people, which means the Pelican State is 10th on a list of states with the highest auto accident fatality rate. Curiously enough, the others tend to be spread out across the South and Southwest:

  1. Mississippi (23.1/100,000)
  2. Alabama (21.3)
  3. South Carolina (20.5)
  4. New Mexico (19.3)
  5. Wyoming (19.1)
  6. Kentucky (18.8)
  7. Arkansas (18.2)
  8. Montana (18.2)
  9. Oklahoma (17.4)

1. Louisiana Auto Accidents

So who’s getting into accidents in Louisiana? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Car Drivers: 35%
  • Pickups and SUVs: 29%
  • Large trucks: 1%
  • Motorcyclists: 12%
  • Pedestrians: 17%
  • Bicyclists: 3%

Slightly more than half (54%) of those accidents were categorized as “single-vehicle.” (The other 46% were, well, double-vehicle.) The same roughly-equal split occurs between people living in urban versus rural areas. But a few other factors are at play. First, alcohol. In 2016, the year that Louisiana reported 757 crash fatalities, it also reported that BACs (blood alcohol concentrations) were found in81%of its passengers who were involved in fatal auto accidents.

2. Who to Call?

That’s the statistical rundown of auto accidents in Louisiana. Now for the $64,000 question: What do you do if you get in an auto accident in Louisiana? Our advice is to call Seth Smiley at the Smiley Law Firm. He’s a personal injury attorney who gets it. When you come to us, one of the first questions that Seth or any of our other car accident attorneys will ask is, “What are the damages?”

The answer to that question will help us determine the bedrock figures on which the case can rest. We’re not trying to quantify your suffering. We just need to figure out if it’s worth your while to pursue your case.

Was your fender bumped and your elbow bruised? Or was your car totaled and your hospital expenses run up past $1,000,000? Getting a sense of the compensation you can expect will clarify whether you should seek litigation in the first place.

“Who was at fault?” is another question that our attorneys will ask you. If you were in an accident because you had been drinking and you ran a stop sign – which is what happened to Seth Smiley when he was five years old and someone hit the car he was in – you do have a personal injury case on your hands, just not a good one.

You can only seek reparations for mental, physical, and emotional duress if you sustained damages through no fault of your own.

3. Then What?

So let’s say that you can claim you were in an accident through no fault of your own. At that point, we’ll review a number of factors upon which your case likely rests:

  • Who’s At Fault?

(See above. This is huge. Often times, it’s the crux of the case.)

  • What Income Was Lost?

Imagine that you’re making $50,000/year. Now, because of your auto accident injury, the doctors tell you can’t work for a year. The real-world negotiations on this point are complex, but the math generally breaks down like this: You’ve suffered a year of lost wages, which means you’re entitled to the $50,000 you would have earned had someone not crashed into you.

  • Medical Expenses

If you’re in an auto accident, we’re hoping that all that happens to you is that you get a bruise on your elbow. But the truth is that people get into horrific crashes. Cars roll off the highway. Motorcyclists slam into semis. And people suffer what is termed “hard injuries”: broken bones, spinal cord impact, or permanent nerve damage.

The medical treatment involved in stabilizing and rehabilitating people who undergo severe injuries can be extremely expensive. In some cases, even if you do have insurance, you may be billed tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you weren’t at fault for getting into that auto accident, we don’t think you should pay a dime of that bill. And we’ll fight for you.

  • Further Pain and Suffering

When you get into an auto accident, not only could you end up in the hospital, but the aftershock of the crash could reverberate through many other aspects of your life. Let’s say you’re rendered incapable of working for 3-6 months. Depending on where you live and work, you may lose your job or your mortgage or even get a divorce.

We don’t mean to sound like doomsday soothsayers, but we’ve seen it happen before. A divorce, foreclosing on your house, ending up on the losing side of a custody battle – in some ways, these can be more expensive bills than anything a hospital can hand you. And if you have to pay them, you may be entitled to further compensation.

4. Wrapping Up

If you get into an auto accident, two of the questions that you’ll have to face are A) “Was I at fault?” and B) “What are the damages?” But even if you have a good lawsuit and you’re entitled to payment, that payment may not be forthcoming anytime soon.

The type of injury, accident, and insurance company’s policies play huge roles in determining how and when the lawsuit gets settled. But, in general, the timeline of settling a lawsuit is generally 2-3 years.

For a lot of people, 2-3 years is a lot longer than they can afford to wait around for a verdict. We get it. The most important thing is that you get healthy first. That’s why our motto is “Doctor First, Lawyer Second.”

If you get in a crash, go straight to primary care, and only once you’re stabilized, reach out to us. We’ll be here waiting for you, making sure we can steer you back to your life before the crash.

Learn More From Smiley Law Firm’s Injury Blog

Here at Smiley Law Firm, we write about the topic of car accidents extensively. This may be the most popular topics for our clients and the public. As personal injury attorneys, we believe in educating our clients and the public with the most up to date information available. We have a number of blogs and articles covering the following topics. Please read them and leave comments if you find the information helpful.

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