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Annual Traffic Deaths in Mass. Hit Highest Number Since 2009

Annual Traffic Deaths in Mass. Hit Highest Number Since 2009

Preliminary statistics show that 2021 marked a deadly year on Massachusetts’ roads. According to the state’s Highway Safety Department, nearly 400 people died an increase from 327 fatalities in 2020.

“That’s more crash fatalities than any year since 2009. Speed, a decrease in seatbelt use, and more motorcycle fatalities are the main differences,” the department said in a tweet. “Please slow down, buckle up, and look twice to save a life.”

Loss of life is the most severe outcome of a car accident, but it’s not the only one. Severe, catastrophic injuries can forever change the lives of drivers, passengers, and bystanders.

Car Crash Fatalities Increase Nationwide

Massachusetts isn’t isolated in seeing a rise in deaths resulting from vehicle collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its data showing that deaths ticked back up in 2020 after three straight years of decline.

The NHTSA estimates that 38,680 people died in traffic accidents in 2020, compared to 36,096 in 2019. In the last 25 years, 2005 was the deadliest with more than 39,000 fatalities. About 4 million people suffer injuries that require medical attention.

Despite Americans driving less because of the pandemic, some experts think the following contributed to the increase:

  • More drivers were operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Fewer cars on the road encouraged drivers to speed
  • Seatbelt use is declining or remaining steady at best

Contributing Factors in Deadly Crashes

Massachusetts trails only New Hampshire with the second-lowest rate of seatbelt use in the country at 73.70%. at 97.10%, Georgia boasts the highest rate. New Hampshire is the only state without a seatbelt law. Massachusetts is one of six states with secondary enforcement of seatbelt laws. Law enforcement must have some other reason for stopping a vehicle before citing them for not wearing a seatbelt.

About 41% of fatal car crashes involved alcohol in 2018 in Massachusetts. Fortunately, there is some good news. America’s Health Rankings show that Bay Staters are binge-drinking less. Over the last decade, excessive drinking has cropped from 22.60% to 18.50%. The U.S. average is 17.60%.

Fault & Liability in Massachusetts Vehicle Collisions

Compensation could be possible whenever someone is injured or killed in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. States follow either comparative fault or contributory negligence legal doctrine. Contributory negligence prohibits someone from recovering damages if they are found to be partially at fault. In comparative fault, damages are reduced if the plaintiff is found to have some responsibility.

The comparative fault laws in Massachusetts prohibit anyone from receiving damages if they are 50% or more at fault. If the plaintiff is determined to be 10% at fault, for example, any award will be reduced by 10%.

One tactic insurance companies use is exaggerating the fault of the other driver. Insurance companies also try to settle quickly. They hope to take advantage of an emotional situation that the injured party wants to put behind them as soon as possible.

There are several reasons to not take the first settlement offer from an insurance company:

  • The insurance company is looking out for the best interests of their client and themselves, not you
  • Injuries are not always immediately evident after an accident
  • You lose the right to sue for more compensation later
  • The settlement doesn’t consider your pain and suffering

Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state when it comes to car accidents. Anyone injured in an accident is expected to seek compensation for their own insurance coverage. Exceptions to that rule include cases where medical expenses exceed $2,000 or there is permanent or serious disfigurement, injuries, or loss of hearing or sight.

For eligible cases, you may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages:

Economic Damages: Lost wages, medical bills, physical therapy, prescriptions, out-of-pocket expenses, and more

Non-Economic Damages: Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disfigurement, and more

Punitive damages are generally not awarded except in wrongful death claims.

After seeking medical treatment, you should next call should be to Morgan & Murphy, LLP to discuss your personal injury case.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits

You don’t want to rush into a settlement, but there are time constraints for filing a claim. All states set their own ground rules on when someone loses the right to seek compensation after an accident. This statute of limitations in Massachusetts is three years for most cases. After three years have passed, you’ll lose the right to sue.

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident, or if a loved one was killed, safeguard your rights by calling on our skilled attorneys at Morgan & Murphy, LLP. Our lawyers have more than eight decades of combined experience in fighting for injured clients.

We will evaluate your accident at no cost and accept cases on a contingency fee basis. Schedule your first consultation today by calling (508) 966-7254.


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