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The unaffordable costs of auto accidents in the United States

Motor vehicle accidents are so common that they are viewed as unavoidable and inevitable. But is this really true? Are car accidents just the “cost of doing business” in a country that relies heavily on motor vehicles for both shipping and travel?

Individual car accidents are expensive in their own right, particularly for victims. But on a national level, the costs of auto accidents are staggering. In today’s post, we’ll examine some sobering data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First, there are the medical costs to consider. According to the CDC, auto accidents in 2012 alone sent more than 2.5 million Americans to the emergency room and resulted in hospitalization for close to 200,000 victims. The lifetime medical costs for accidents in 2012 add up to an estimated $18 billion. And those costs are especially steep because they are not very spread out. Approximately 75 percent of those costs were incurred within 18 months of the accident.

Financial costs also include missed work due to injuries and hospital stays. The CDC says that Americans spend more than 1 million days each year in the hospital due to car accident injuries. Days spent recuperating at the hospital, resting at home or permanently disabled are all days that cannot be spent at work. The lifetime costs in lost work due to accidents in 2012 will add up to some $33 billion.

Most car accidents are preventable. And even if you have good auto and medical insurance, a car accident can result in significant debt in addition to temporary or permanent disability. If you were injured as the result of another driver’s negligence, it is important to seek compensation with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries - Costly but Preventable,” October 2014

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