While COVID-19 has caused hundreds of thousands to lose their lives, the virus has also had other deadly effects on everyday life. For example, although there have been few significant changes to driving laws since 2020, the frequency of vehicle accident deaths has been on the rise due to fewer cars being on the road.
Less Traffic, More Deaths
With fewer cars being on the road due to the pandemic, most people may assume that driving has become safer. That being said, recent statistics from 22 states plus Washington D.C. indicate otherwise. According to the data, there has been a 17 percent drop in driving and only a 6 percent decrease in deaths on the road. These state’s data showed there had been 791 more deaths at the 2020 rate than would have occurred in 2019.
With less traffic on the road, drivers feel they can travel faster and drive more recklessly. New York City and other large cities have caught more people speeding through their speed cameras now than before the pandemic.
Liability For Car Accidents
All drivers have a legal duty to operate their vehicles in a manner that avoids injuring others. When a driver fails to safely operate their vehicle and injures or kills another person, they have breached this duty. The plaintiff can hold the defendant liable for injuries or death caused by the defendant’s breach and damages arising from the injuries or death.
Duty And Breach Of Duty
When driving on the road, all drivers must reasonably handle their vehicles. To determine what is reasonable, the law looks at how the average person would have operated their vehicle in similar circumstances. When a reasonable person would have driven differently, it is likely the defendant breached their duty to drive in a manner that avoids injuring or killing others.
While there is no set list of unreasonable driving, drivers who drive their car recklessly and dangerously breach this duty. Below are common ways people drive unreasonably:
- Failing to stop at stop signs and lights
- Talking on the phone
- Swerving in and out of lanes
Causation Of Plaintiff’s Injury And Damages
Once the plaintiff proves the defendant breached their duty to operate their vehicle safely, they must then prove the defendant’s breach caused their injuries. As a result, the plaintiff must show nothing else other than that the defendant’s breach caused their injuries or their loved one’s death. The defendant is only liable for injuries or deaths that are foreseeable as a result of their breach.
The plaintiff is only eligible to recover when they show the injury or death resulted in damages. “Damages include but are not limited to the victim’s pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses,” says Tyson Mutrux, personal injury lawyer at Mutrux Firm Injury Lawyers.
Once the defendant’s fault is established, the plaintiff may recover damages for their injuries sustained in a car accident. Plaintiffs are able to recover economic and non-economic damages suffered in a car accident. Additionally, when car accidents result in the victim’s death, their family may recover damages under a wrongful death lawsuit.
The plaintiff is eligible to recover all financial losses suffered as a result of the car accident. When the plaintiff is forced to miss work, they can recover past and future lost wages and compensation for any lost earning capacity.
Injuries require medical treatment, and the plaintiff may recover any out-of-pocket costs spent on their treatment, including hospital visits, doctor office visits, and therapy. Additionally, future medical expenses, such as life plans, are included in economic damages.
The plaintiff can recover for their pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. Diminished quality of life is measured by evaluating the plaintiff’s life before the accident and their life after the accident. A plaintiff may recover damages when they are no longer able to interact with family and friends, perform the same hobbies, or enjoy their usual daily activities.
Wrongful Death Damages
When car accidents cause the victims death, the family can hold the defendant liable for additional damages. While the family may bring a lawsuit for the victim’s pain and suffering and economic damages, they must bring a separate lawsuit for the wrongful death damages. In a wrongful death lawsuit, damages are presumed as a result of the victim’s death.
Loss Of Income
Other damages recoverable in wrongful death lawsuits include the loss of income if the victim was working at the time of their death. The family may recover damages in the amount of the deceased’s expected income between their death and their expected age of retirement.
Loss Of Services
The family can recover for the loss of services the deceased provided the family. The family may recover damages when they have to hire services to replace the value the deceased provided. These services include guidance, training, or assistance the deceased may have given to the family.
Drive With Caution On The Open Road
Despite fewer cars on the road, drivers need to be attentive to other vehicles. As people drive recklessly with more open roads, other drivers must drive safely to avoid a deadly collision. When a family loses their loved one to reckless driving, they may hold the defendant responsible for their actions.