Last year in the United States, more than 36,500 people were killed in car accidents. In Alaska, 69 fatal crashes claimed the lives of 80 people, making our state among the most deadly when considering the number of deaths per miles traveled. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that fatal accidents have been consistently dropping over the years thanks to new vehicle safety features and public safety campaigns, fatal accidents still occur at high rates. And when they do, grieving family members are left to figure out a new way forward. What happened to their loved one? And what can they do now?
Common Causes of Fatal Car Crashes in Alaska
A fatal car accident can, unfortunately, result from a wide range of road conditions and situations. Some of the most common causes, however, include:
- Impaired driving. Drunk driving is a pervasive problem across the U.S, resulting in a death about every 48 minutes, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol are less able to perform a number of key driving functions, including tracking moving traffic, focusing on the task of driving, controlling muscles to steer, maintaining speed, and responding quickly enough to the road and traffic conditions.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving was responsible for more than 3,000 deaths in 2017, according to NHTSA. Diverting driver attention from the road to change the radio, read a text, tend to children, eat, or engage in any number of other distractions can cause drivers to drift from their marked lane, lose track of speed, miss road signs or signals, and fail to recognize stopped or slowed traffic.
- Failing to address road conditions. One study by the Auto Insurance Center reported that, in Alaska, most fatal crashes happened when drivers failed to adjust to road surfaces. Changing weather conditions require drivers to change their behavior, taking steps such as reducing speed, leaving more room between themselves and other vehicles, and more. Additionally, drivers should be on the lookout for changing traffic patterns or congestion when road conditions are not optimal.
- Speeding. Speeding is an extremely common behavior, but the frequency with which it occurs does not make it any less dangerous. Speeding was related to more than 9,300 deaths in 2018, as speeding drivers are at greater risk of losing control of their vehicles. Additionally, speeding can reduce the effectiveness of car safety features and increase the severity of a crash when one does occur.
Types of Injuries That Often Prove Fatal
Crashes caused by these factors can lead to fatal injuries to drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and anyone else on the road. Some catastrophic injuries are more likely to prove fatal than others, including:
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Heart or aortic injuries
- Internal injuries, including internal bleeding
- Lung injuries
When Your Loved One Is Killed in an Alaska Car Accident
Having a loved one die in a car accident is a traumatic experience. The shock and grief of the accident can feel overwhelming. For many surviving family members, it is difficult to consider how even to begin to move forward in the days and weeks after the crash. However, there are practical matters families must address, especially when the deceased provided essential family functions, such as providing the main source of income or performing important childcare duties. Many families understandably also want to hold the person responsible for their loved one’s death accountable for their behavior. At these times, a wrongful death claim can help families find the closure they need to begin to move forward.
A wrongful death claim is a legal claim filed by surviving family members against the person responsible for the death. These claims can provide a sense of justice, as well as compensation for:
- Medical bills incurred before the death
- Lost income the deceased likely would have earned
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
Whatever circumstances lead to a loved one’s death in a car crash, surviving family members often need help understanding their rights and finding the best way to move forward. While a wrongful death claim cannot bring back a loved one, it can provide justice and compensation to help families get started with their lives after death. Attorney Ben Crittenden understands just how difficult these situations can be, and he is here to provide information and guidance for grieving Alaska families. Call Ben in his Anchorage office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page. You’ll get in touch directly with Ben, who will answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.