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Traffic accidents injure millions in U.S.

As many Massachusetts drivers know, traffic accidents are the primary cause of injuries in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 33,000 deaths in 2012. In addition, 2.5 million people went to the emergency room that year, and 200,000 had to stay at the hospitals.

Traffic accident injuries are estimated to result in $18 million in lifetime medical expenses, mostly due to ER visits and hospitalization, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most accidents involve either teens, young adults or drivers over 80. Drugs, alcohol and fatigue are leading causes of accidents. Other reasons are distracted driving, disobeying roadway regulations such as stop signs and traffic lights, and speeding.

Alcohol and drugs are factors in many accidents involving young people. According to a 2009 report by the National Organization for Youth Safety, almost a third of drivers aged 15 and 20 killed in accidents were legally drunk. The cost of highway fatalities linked to drunk driving exceeds $50 billion per year. One remedy, officials say, is to lower the legal limit for blood alcohol content.

Fatigue is a major concern for all drivers. Commercial drivers may be pushing themselves beyond the physical point of exhaustion. The recent high-profile accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan highlighted the plight of truckers who often drive for many consecutive hours without sleep. Amendments to laws outlining trucker rest requirements are pending.

When an impaired, fatigued, reckless or distracted driver causes a car accident, victims suffer physically, emotionally and financially. The cost of medical care and lost income may be staggering.

An attorney representing a person who has been injured in an accident may be able to assist the individual by reviewing medical records and the details of the accident to determine fault and the extent of injury. The attorney may offer guidance in filing a personal injury suit to recover damages.

Source: Think Progress, "Car Accidents Send 2.5 Million Americans To The Emergency Room Every Year", Sam P.K. Collins, October 10, 2014

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