Over the course of a long driving history, usually 50 to 60 years, an average driver is likely to be involved in at least three to four car accidents. Most accidents do not result in fatalities, but injuries and property damages are likely.
What are the Odds of a Car Accident?
According to the National Safety Council, the average driver will experience several car accidents over the course of a driving lifetime. If a driver becomes licensed at age 16, the odds are quite good that he/she will be involved in some type of car accident by age 34. The accident may be a minor fender bender that results only in damages to the car or a serious crash that results in injury or death. Although there is no exact science to predict a driver’s odds of becoming injured or killed in a car accident, studies can predict a driver’s odds of an accident.
For the average driver, the odds of a fatal car crash are minimal. There are approximately 10 million car accidents each year that include all types of injuries and property damages. Car accident statistics include various problems such as minor parking lot scrapes, small fender benders, rear-end and head-on collisions, and multi-vehicle pileups. According to the National Safety Council, only three out of every 1,000 accidents involve fatalities. Most crashes are minor, resulting in minimal injuries.
Young drivers under the age of 25 are far more likely to be involved in serious car accidents than older, more experienced drivers. Fatality rates among teens and young drivers are very high. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people between ages 15 and 21. A Chicago car accident lawyer often sees fatal crashes involving teen drivers.
In 2016, 2,433 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in car crashes, and 292,742 more were treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries. That means that six teens between the ages of 16 to 19 died every day. In 2016, teenage drivers accounted for about 8 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the country. Statistics show that 9 percent of teens were killed in passenger vehicles including cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks; 6 percent were pedestrian deaths, and 3 percent were motorcyclists deaths. Additional deaths involved bicycles and all-terrain vehicles.
The Rising Cost of Car Accidents
Car insurance industry estimates show that the average driver will file a claim for a car accident about once every 17.9 years. That’s if the person is an average driver who obeys traffic laws and exercises good driving habits. In the U.S., over 2 million people are injured in motor vehicle crashes every year. Although most insurance claims do not involve serious injuries or fatalities, they are costly.
In 2010, the average claim for injuries from a car accident was $23,450, which covered injuries to the driver and other injury victims. From 2010 to 2012, the average claim for car accidents rose by 8 percent. Claims included economic losses for medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenditures. Among bodily injury claimants, average claimed losses rose 4 percent. Today, the average claim for injuries from a car crash is significantly higher due to soaring medical costs over the last five years. In 2018, the average claim was around $31,000.
Every insurance claim is different because no two injury victims experience the same losses. The value of a claim depends on the severity of a person’s injury, the costs of their medical care, and the value of their vehicle. Insurance claims for motor vehicle accidents are usually grouped into three categories by insurers:
- General Damages – General damages are those that most car accident victims who sustain injuries experience. They include physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, diminished enjoyment of life, and lost companionship. General damages are difficult to put a value to because no two injuries cause the same pain and suffering for different people.
- Special Damages – Special damages refer to a person’s monetary losses caused by a car accident. These damages include past and future medical expenses, the costs of surgeries or other treatments, the value of lost wages and earning opportunities, and the costs of property damage repairs. Special damages are easier to put a value to because they are based on medical or property damage evidence.
- Punitive Damages – Punitive damages don’t apply to all car accident claims. They are an additional form of compensation a judge may award if he/she does not think compensatory damages are enough. Punitive damages are most common in cases where the defendant is guilty of gross negligence, such as drunk driving, or intent to commit harm.