What Are the Odds Of Dying in a Car Crash?

Traffic fatalities are a reality. Most people survive car accidents. They may sustain catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities, but they survive.

However, thousands of people die each year in motor vehicle accidents. According to the Bureau of Transportation, there have been over 32,000 traffic fatalities each year in the United States for the past decade. 

In 2019, 36,096 people died in traffic accidents nationwide. In California, 3,606 people were killed in car accidents statewide. The 2019 Mileage Death Rate was 1.06 (deaths per 100 million miles traveled).

What Are My Odds of Dying in a Car Accident?

If you travel by car, bus, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or another vehicle, you have a risk of being involved in a collision. The more you travel, the higher your risk of being involved in a traffic crash. However, it is impossible to know for sure the odds you’ll die in a car accident.

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated the odds of dying in a car crash based on national car accident data. For 2019, the NSC states that the odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash is 1 in 107. The odds of dying in a car accident are lower than the odds of dying because of a fall (1 in 106) or from an opioid overdose (1 in 92).

The odds of dying in a pedestrian accident or motorcycle crash are lower. Your odds of dying in a pedestrian accident is 1 in 543. A motorcyclist has a 1 in 899 chance of dying in a motorcycle crash

Who is Liable for a Traffic Fatality? 

California is an at-fault state for traffic accidents. If you are responsible for causing a car crash, you can be held financially liable for the damages caused by the crash. However, the victim must prove that you caused the car wreck before you are required to compensate the victim for damages.

Therefore, other motorists are generally liable for traffic fatalities. They may cause accidents because they are speeding, driving recklessly, or distracted. Likewise, a driver might cause an accident because they fail to yield the right of way, follow another vehicle too closely, or disobey other traffic laws.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or being drowsy are also factors in deadly car accidents. In some cases, weather conditions or road conditions can contribute to the cause of a traffic accident.

An accident investigation involves gathering evidence used to prove fault. 

Evidence might include:

  • Police reports and accident reports
  • Videos of the car accident
  • Statements made by drivers and passengers
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Physical evidence from the accident scene or the vehicles
  • Cell phone records
  • Information collected from vehicle data recorders

In some cases, more than one party could be liable for damages caused by a car accident. For example, two or more drivers could share liability for a multi-vehicle accident. A truck driver, trucking company, and maintenance company could be liable for a commercial truck accident.

Determining who is liable for the crash is the first step in filing a wrongful death claim. 

What is A Wrongful Death Claim?

If your family member dies in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for damages caused by your loved one’s death. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the surviving family members.

Under California’s wrongful death laws, families might receive compensation for:

  • Funeral and burial expense
  • Medical expenses incurred between the car accident and the date of death
  • Loss of financial support 
  • Loss of affection, love, and consortium
  • Loss of contributions to household services

California statutes list the categories of individuals who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In most cases, the surviving spouse or domestic partner, children, and grandchildren have the right to file a wrongful death claim. 

However, there are certain cases in which other family members, such as parents or stepchildren, who relied on the person for financial support could be entitled to compensation for a wrongful death. If there are no surviving family members in the categories, anyone entitled to inherit under intestate laws might have the standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim for a Car Accident?

Yes, your time to file a wrongful death lawsuit is limited by California’s statute of limitations. In most cases, the deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years after the person’s death in a car accident. However, there could be exceptions to the rule. 

It is best to speak with a California wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident. Protect your right to hold the negligent party who caused your loved one’s death responsible for their actions by seeking legal advice as soon as possible.