Where car accidents are concerned, we tend to think of the damages in terms of missed work, hospital bills, and the cost to repair or replace our vehicle. The truth is, these things are significant to the victims of accidents, but there is also a great cost to society. Even if you are never in a wreck, you are still paying for accidents out of your tax dollars.
When there is a car crash, most people automatically think that insurance will cover the costs of damage and injuries. But what happens when someone is involved in an accident who does not have insurance or whose insurance is not sufficient enough to cover damages or injuries? When that happens, it is often the responsibility of the government to step in, especially when it comes to someone who is severely injured.
Annual Cost of Car Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 100 people per day die in car crashes and more than 2.5 million visit emergency departments with vehicle crash injuries. In 2017, the costs associated with car accidents exceeded $75 billion. Unfortunately, it appears that fatal and disabling injuries are increasing around the world, and especially here in the United States. This is leading many experts to call motor vehicle crashes a public health issue.
Disability and Car Crashes
One of the reasons experts are looking at motor vehicle accidents as a public health issue is that a permanent disability can be financially devastating to car crash victims. If you are permanently disabled due to a car crash due to someone else’s negligence, you are able to file a claim against their insurance and to sue them civilly for your disability, pain and suffering, and other costs associated with your injury.
Establishing negligence in the case of a car accident is dependent on two important factors. Click here to find out more. You may assume that once negligence has been proven you will be offered a settlement or you will win in court and get an award. However, that doesn’t always happen.
If the person who hit you has no car insurance or has the minimum amount permitted under the law, the insurance company will be unable to provide you with adequate compensation. It stands to reason that someone who has no, or very little, insurance has very few assets as well. This means that even if you are successful in a personal injury claim, the chances of collecting on your award are difficult.
In order to continue receiving medical care and support your family financially, you may be forced to seek Social Security disability or even use public assistance to make ends meet. This type of financial assistance is funded by the taxpayer.
In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the lifetime economic cost to society for each traffic fatality was $1.4 million, and over 90 percent of that figure was due to lost workplace and household productivity. As for survivors, one critically injured crash victim cost an average of $1 million with medical costs and lost productivity, accounting for 82 percent of the total.
In 1994, the average cost to society for each fatality was $830,000 with 85 percent loss of workplace and home productivity. The cost for each critically injured survivor was $706,000, with medical costs accounting for 84 percent of that total.
NHTSA also provided information on what percentage of costs for accidents are paid from public funds in 2013. Public revenue, or taxes, pay for almost seven percent of motor vehicle crashes. The federal government pays for four percent with states and local governments accounting for around three percent.
With insurance coverage, healthcare providers and individuals are also covering the cost of accidents. Most of those who end up paying for injuries and deaths were not directly involved in any crash at all. Those costs total over $187 million.
Other Related Costs
There are other areas where taxpayers foot the bill for vehicle crashes. When a vehicle has a mechanical or safety issue, the federal government often steps in to determine what caused the issue. This means investigation and experimentation to determine if it is a product defect in a particular model or if it is simply a problem with one vehicle.
This manufacturer liability leads to costs for recalls, federal monitoring as well as the investigation. The government is also responsible for keeping roads safe. If there is an issue with road design that leads to injuries or fatalities, the correction of that road design also falls to the taxpayer.