Wrongful Death Statistics

Death is very confusing and can be upsetting to the survivors. There is some comfort to be had in realizing that one’s adversity is not original, and that you are not alone. In the grander scheme of things, the trials of an individual are small—not in terms of their importance, but in terms of their insurmountability. That others preceding and contemporary with you have dealt successfully with the problems you face means that you have hope as well. For the survival of a wrongful death, the light at the end of the tunnel may be too remote to detect except by the assurance by others that it is there. While no one can take comfort in the prevalence of wrongful death, the knowledge that one is part of a larger community of people who can recover even from a devastating loss can be comforting. It is with this hope in mind that the following statistics have been provided. While the incidence of wrongful death does not diminish the pain of the individual, it can show that whatever they face is not beyond their power to overcome.

Most Common Types of Wrongful Death

Traffic Accidents

2011 Traffic Safety Facts Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration accounts for 32,367 deaths in traffic accidents in 2011—that’s 89 fatalities per day or 1 every 16 minutes. Thirty-seven percent of victims were in small passenger vehicles; 29% were in small trucks, 14% were on motorcycles, and 14% were pedestrians. Thirty-one percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents were over the legal limit at the time of the accident, meaning that an alcohol-impaired accident happens once every 53 minutes: 29% of motorcyclists, 24% of passenger car drivers, and 21% of light truck drivers were legally inebriated during fatal accidents. In Utah, there were 240 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2011; 22% of them involved intoxicated drivers. Twenty-seven were killed in Utah motorcycle accidents, in which 21 of the motorcyclists were inebriated and only 37% wore helmets.

Workplace Accidents

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 4,693 fatal work accidents in 2011; 24% of these were transportation-related, and 10% were workplace homicides. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 17% (over 700) of work fatalities were construction-related. Centers Disease Control and Prevention report 70 mining fatalities in 2010. Sixty-four of the almost 5,000 total occupational fatalities were in Utah.

Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents

Serious slip, trip, and fall injuries are startlingly common occurrences, in spite of the common assumption that they are rarely serious. The National Safety Council estimates that there were over 25,000 deaths by fall in 2009. Many of the worst fall injuries are suffered by construction workers and others whose occupations involve working with dangerous equipment in precarious conditions.

Medical Malpractice

It has been estimated that as many as 200,000 are killed by medical malpractice each year, whether from misdiagnosis, incorrect prescriptions, surgical errors, or failure to provide adequate care under the circumstances. Yet, malpractice suits account for only 15% of personal injury lawsuits, and of those that are filed, fewer than 20% are compensated at all. However, ample settlements may be reached out of court when the victims are aided by a proficient lawyer.

Violence

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, there were 13,913 murders in the U.S. in 2011.  Utah itself sees about 50 murders each year. While murder is a criminal charge, civil charges may also be brought against the perpetrator so that the families of the victims may be compensated for their losses. (For a famous example of how this works, see the O.J. Simpson case.) Without making any attempt to minimize or exploit the grief wrongful death survivors suffer, we hope the knowledge that they are not alone will allow the bereaved to continue in the hope that they will not suffer indefinitely. Intense distress and even hopelessness are understandable after the death of a loved one, but they should never cause survivors to underestimate their own fortitude.  Please contact us today at Christensen & Hymas if you are worried about your own fortitude. To learn about wrongful death claims and to see how we have helped others who have lost loved one, visit our Wrongful Death article or see examples of cases we have won.

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