Calculating the costs of fatal motor vehicle accidents: Part II

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the costs of motor vehicle accidents on a state level as well as a national level. Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that fatal car accidents on U.S. roads in 2005 resulted in $41 billion in costs related to medical care and lost work.

New York’s costs were ranked 7th highest for that year at $1.33 billion. According to the CDC, more than 1,000 New Yorkers are killed each year in accidents deemed preventable. They include crashes between motor vehicles and accidents in which motor vehicles collide with bicyclists and pedestrians.

Information like this is important to government agencies for a number of reasons. But it might also be important for individuals and families as well.

Consider the following hypothetical scenario (unpleasant as it may be): Your spouse is paralyzed or killed in a car accident with a negligent driver. In addition to expensive medical bills and perhaps funeral costs, there are also significant costs associated with lost income. If your family was dependent upon your spouse’s income or a combined parental income, his or her earning potential has been lost and the family may be financially compromised as a result.

In a scenario like this, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit would likely be appropriate. But before you seek damages from the at-fault driver (and insurance), it is important to quantify how much money and future income has been lost as a result of the accident. In some cases, the losses can add up to millions of dollars.

Macro-level data will not provide all the information you need for an individual civil lawsuit, but it is nonetheless a good starting point to help you and your attorney calculate appropriate damages.

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