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Here’s Why 2020 Car Accident Deaths Have Been the Highest in 13 Years

January 26, 2022 by The Parrish Law Firm

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms that car accident deaths in 2020 were at a 13-year high. Nearly 40,000 people passed away that year in fatal accidents – even though Americans drove less in 2020 than in previous years.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a major cause of these fatalities, as both the NHTSA and the National Safety Council (NSC) confirm. If you were recently in a car accident, you could be feeling the impacts of this problem when you file your insurance claim.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Fatal Accidents – the NHTSA’s Special Reports

The accident fatalities in 2020 were so significant that the NHTSA released two special reports investigating the root causes for the increase. 

That year, researchers noted a clear change in driving patterns. This included riskier driving behaviors such as:

  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Driving under the influence of illegal drugs
  • Failure to wear seat belts

A Significant Change in Drug Use By Mid-March 2020

Other factors contributed to car accident fatalities at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Heightened drug use was a telling factor in fatal accidents. 

Consider the following: 

  • After mid-March of 2021, drivers tested positive for opioids and marijuana at staggering rates, increasing by 50% and 60%, respectively.
  • About 66% of those killed by car crash injuries were under the influence of at least one or more types of drugs, including marijuana, opioids, or alcohol, according to data from five selected trauma centers. 

Not Over Yet – Car Accident Fatalities Are Still High in 2021

The most recent reports from the NHTSA indicate that roadway fatalities are still a serious concern in 2021, and officials continue to call the issue “a crisis.” 

Data from the first six months of 2021 shows that:

  • Traffic fatalities are roughly keeping pace with 2020 rates. Over 20,000 people were killed on the roads in the first six months of 2021.
  • Similar risky choices were contributing factors in accidents. Speeding and failing to wear seat belts continued to increase collisions.  

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Impacting Car Accident Claims

If you were in a car accident in 2020 or 2021, you may be feeling the effects of these traffic trends on the insurance claims process. Due to the uptick in serious crashes, insurance companies could be facing increased demands to pay out accident claims – and they may pass on those challenges to policyholders. 

As a consequence, you could face these problems as you seek compensation after a crash:

  • Delayed fulfillment. The insurance company may not act promptly and efficiently when you file your claim. You may be waiting too long to get the compensation you need. 
  • Lowball settlement offers. You may receive a settlement offer, but it may not be valued accurately. Your offer may not account for extensive medical bills or your income losses, either. 
  • Unfair denials or challenges to your claim. The insurance adjuster may argue that your injuries from the crash aren’t serious or that your injuries predated the accident and are unrelated. 

Dealing with these challenges can be more than frustrating – it can prevent you from covering essential living expenses as well as your medical care needs. However, you can get legal help if you’re facing trouble with your claim.

What a Lawyer Can Do to Help You After a Car Accident

A car accident lawyer can do several things to help you after a crash. They can:

  • Promote an efficient process. Our law firm has years of experience dealing with insurance companies. We have strategies to combat bad faith insurance practices and reach fair outcomes. 
  • Gather the evidence you need. Your claim may be challenged or denied due to a lack of evidence. A lawyer will know how to build your case to demonstrate what happened, who was liable, and how the accident affected you.
  • Handle the negotiations. As noted, the first settlement you receive from an insurer may be a low one. Getting the settlement you need is often about effective negotiation. A lawyer can fight for the amount of compensation you truly need and deserve. 

Ultimately, a lawyer’s job is to advocate for you during the claims process and seek the best possible settlement or award. They can even take your case to trial if that’s what it takes to get fair results.

Get a Free Case Review from the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC

Unsure about what to do after a car accident in Virginia? At the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, we’re prepared to answer any and all of your questions after your collision. We will fight for the recovery you need in an auto accident case.

You can get a free case review where you can learn more about your options. Give us a call today at (571) 229-1800. You can also download our free Virginia Car Accident Guide eBook to learn more.

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