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Car accident fatalities on the rise; speeding, cellphones to blame

Unfortunate news broke late last month that may interest Michigan residents. According to the National Safety Council, the number of people killed in the country due to car accidents went up for the first time in seven years in 2012.

The National Safety Council released a report in February that stated that in 2012, motor vehicle collisions killed about 36,200 people in the U.S. This is 5 percent more car accident deaths than in 2011, and the first time that this statistic has increased since 2005.

The National Safety Council theorized that the increase in car accident deaths may be due to the increased number of people on the roads. Due to a milder winter in 2012, more people were out driving. Additionally, because the economy is now on the upswing, this has also led to more people driving to work and driving for travel.

In addition to the number of fatalities increasing, the council's report stated that the costs of car accident deaths and injuries have risen from 2011 to 2012. In 2012, almost $277 billion was incurred for car accident-related medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost income and wages and insurance costs.

In the aftermath of fatal car accidents, the loved ones of victims are often left with a number of financial burdens--including medical expenses incurred before the death of the victim, funeral costs and lost wages. When fatal car accidents are caused by another person or entity's negligence, however, it is often possible to recoup these costs as well as damages for pain and suffering with a wrongful death lawsuit.

The report does point to negligence as a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Cell phone use behind the wheel as well as speeding are major contributing factors when it comes to the increased number of traffic fatalities. Michigan residents would be wise to avoid having these reckless driving habits.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Crash-related deaths up for the first time since 2005, report says," David Undercoffler, Feb. 20, 2013

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