Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report detailing federal traffic accident death statistics compiled for the first six months of 2021. The report prompted a statement from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who declared the rising number of people killed in traffic accidents in the country a public crisis.

In his statement, Secretary Buttigieg stated,

This is a crisis. More than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America.

In Virginia, personal injuries and deaths have also increased significantly. There were more than 400 victims killed in traffic accidents in the first six months of this year.

NHTSA Report

According to the report, 20,160 victims were killed in traffic accidents during the first half of this year, compared to 17,020 in the first half of last year. This percentage rise of people killed in car crashes and other traffic accidents is the largest spike in deaths ever recorded in the 45 years that the government has been collecting traffic data. The report also projects there will be more than 11,000 more people killed in the second half of this year, which will be the second-highest number of victims since 1990. Thousands more victims will suffer personal injuries, both here in Virginia and across the nation.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic kept many people at home and off the roads, there were significant increases in the number of accident victims killed and the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2020. The data shows that this trend has continued into 2021. The NHTSA has released details of multiple federal studies done that have found contributing factors to these alarming statistics and the tragic number of victims being killed on our nation’s roads.

These factors include:

  • More drivers are exceeding speed limits in 2021 compared to other years. This is true in both urban and rural areas.
  • The number of both drivers and passengers wearing seat belts has decreased.
  • The use of cell phones – either hand-held or positioned in the vehicle – by drivers has increased.
  • Sales of both alcohol and marijuana have increased in 2021. Multiple studies have found a direct correlation between this data to driving death data.
  • There has been an increase in the number of accident victims who are sustaining severe injuries in car accidents.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Under Virginia law, when a victim is killed in an accident caused by the negligent actions of another party or parties, their survivors can file a wrongful death claim against that party. Our Virginia wrongful death attorneys understand that no amount of money will ever make up for the loss of a loved one, however, many families are left facing overwhelming financial burdens as a result of the unexpected and tragic death of the victim. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate the family for the losses they have suffered.

Contact Our Wrongful Death Law Firm Today

Families who have lost a loved one due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party should consider contacting a Virginia wrongful death attorney to discuss what legal recourse they may have for their pain and loss. Our legal team will work diligently to get your family the financial justice you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp also offers a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as a personal representative.