The pandemic has affected every part of society, from how we work to how we spend our free time. It’s also affected how Americans drive, not in a good way. According to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2020 saw an estimated 38,680 fatal accidents on the roads, the most since 2007. While the numbers aren’t final for 2021, they look as bad or worse.
But why has the number of deadly car crashes spiked so significantly? That’s an excellent question. Here’s what you need to know about why the pandemic caused a rise in deadly crashes and what to do if you’ve suffered from one of these accidents.
The Pandemic-Linked Increase in Fatal Accidents
The assumption regarding the pandemic is that it would reduce the number of car accidents. After all, the massive increase in people working from home led to a significant drop in traffic seen in most locations. However, that’s not what happened. Instead, the number of accidents rose, with the percentage of fatal accidents compared to miles driven skyrocketing.
That raises an obvious question: why have deaths risen so dramatically? Researchers have a few theories. The first is that the pandemic caused the people who remain on the road to be more stressed out and less cautious. These drivers may release their stress by driving recklessly on wide-open roads. According to this theory, fatal accidents should have decreased as people return to work.
This didn’t happen, though. Researchers revised their assumptions in light of the continued rise in accidents. The second theory is that pandemic stress is causing people to act on their road rage or become too tired and distracted to notice other vehicles and hazards. Furthermore, the alienation of quarantine is causing a spike in feelings like anger and depression, causing people to ignore typical safety considerations like wearing seatbelts or not driving while drunk. As a result, accidents are more common, and the injuries in these crashes are more severe.
The final reason for the increase in fatal accidents is even more directly connected to the pandemic. For two years, hospitals have been overwhelmed. Many have reached capacity in their ICUs, leaving no room for emergency patients. It’s likely that at least some of the fatal accidents of the past two years could have been prevented if the local hospitals weren’t completely full.
The combination of these factors is a potent recipe for deadly conditions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they will be changing any time soon. Between drivers being more negligent on the road, passengers failing to take safety precautions, and hospitals not having the space or staff to treat victims, it appears like the increased death rate is here for the foreseeable future.
Recovering from a Car Accident
It’s more likely than ever that you or a loved one was in a car crash in the past year. Even non-fatal car accidents can easily lead to long-lasting injuries or permanent disabilities. That can significantly affect your ability to do everything from working to getting around your home. To recover from these kinds of injuries, you need help. Here’s what you can do to get it.
Take Time to Recover
You need to take care of yourself before you can do anything else. Get medical care immediately after any car accident to ensure you haven’t suffered any injuries you aren’t aware of. If you are diagnosed with injuries from the accident, you should also follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatments.
Collect Your Medical Records
Once you’ve received the medical care you need, get your own copies of your medical records. One of the most common times to run into legal problems after a car accident is when you file insurance claims for the cost of your treatment. Insurance companies don’t want to pay any more than they have to, so they may dispute your claims unless you have thorough documentation of the injuries you faced.
Your medical records will act as proof that you genuinely needed care. Saving medical bills alongside your records will support the damages you claim.
Save All Insurance Communication
The other form of documentation you need to keep is the communication you receive from the insurance company. If possible, save all letters and emails with dates attached. Make copies of the letters and emails you send them, too. You can even record phone calls as long as the insurance company gives you permission or tells you they already record the calls.
Why go through so much effort to save communication? Because it prevents the insurance company from claiming that you haven’t made a claim. It also supports your request timeline, so they can’t argue you missed deadlines. Meanwhile, you can use that timeline to argue if the insurance company is delaying your payments for no reason.
Get Legal Help
Insurance companies have legal teams specifically dedicated to minimizing the amount they have to pay accident survivors. If you’re struggling to have your claims paid after an accident, you’ll need to face these teams in court. Getting legal help can make all the difference.
Excellent car accident attorneys know how these insurance teams work. They also understand the law surrounding insurance claims and car accidents. They can help you collect the documentation you need and make your case. Working with the right attorney can help you stand up to the insurance company and make sure you receive the damages you need to recover.
Take Care of Yourself On and Off the Road
Travel has gotten more dangerous because of the pandemic, in more ways than one. Take care when you leave your home to stay safe and avoid falling victim to someone else’s reckless behavior.
Fatal accidents are on the rise, and if you’ve lost a loved one in a car crash, you’re not alone. You deserve to hold the risky driver accountable for their actions. Get in touch with an expert car accident lawyer to discuss your case and learn what you should do next. You can get the help to fight for the damages you need to get back to your normal life.