Fatal accidents take many forms. Thousands of people die every year in motor vehicle crashes, work accidents, slip and fall accidents, drownings, and many other incidents. Sometimes an accident isn’t anyone’s fault, but in many cases fatal accidents are preventable, which makes them even more tragic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that 200,955 people died because of unintentional injuries in 2020. Many accidents are caused by human error, reckless behavior, faulty products, lack of safety precautions, and inattentiveness to details.
Can these fatal accidents be prevented? Not every accident is preventable, but many unintentional or accidental injuries are avoidable. Labels, warnings, safety protocols, and attention to detail could help stop unintentional injuries and deaths from happening. Today, our Hanover personal injury attorneys discuss some steps we can take to prevent these types of unintentional fatal injuries.
What were the top causes of accidental death in 2020?
Unintentional or accidental injuries are currently listed as the 4th highest cause of death in the United States. The top three include:
- Unintentional poisoning caused 87,404 deaths, averaging 26.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
- Falls caused 42,114 deaths, averaging 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people.
- Motor vehicle accidents caused 40,698 deaths, averaging 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
Other causes of accidental death included heat, cold, drowning, fire, and smoke, as well as workplace accidents.
Accidental poisoning was the top cause of accidental death in 2020. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the most common types of unintentional environmental poisonings in the country. Other common exposures to poisoning include cosmetics, analgesic drugs, pesticides, and drug misuse.
Fifty-five poison control centers are in the US, with each providing 24-hour free guidance. Poison control can be contacted from anywhere by calling 1-800-222-1222 or visiting poisonhelp.org. A pharmacist, doctor, nurse, or poison information provider specializing in toxicology will answer questions or concerns regarding accidental poisoning.
Pennsylvania’s Poison Control (PPC) office is located in Pittsburgh and responds to over 100,000 requests for poison information each year and services 44 Pennsylvania counties. Per the PPC, “To ensure treatment excellence, the PPC developed a network of hospital treatment centers throughout Pennsylvania, which provide medical consultation and follow-up for all cases of poison exposure that have been referred to those hospitals.”
The CDC asserts that poisoning is preventable. We can avoid unintended poisoning by safely storing our household cleaning products, chemicals, and prescription medication, as well as non-prescription drugs away from children at all times. We can install carbon monoxide detectors in our homes; have appliances like heaters and air conditioners regularly checked by qualified technicians; use gas ovens, camp stoves, fireplaces, and other burning devices with care; never leave a car running inside a garage; and always seek the help of poison control if accidentally exposed.
Unintentional falls follow closely behind poisoning in fatal accidents in the US. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), falls are the 2nd leading cause of death worldwide, and adults over 60 suffer the most. Age is one of the biggest risk factors for falls. The WHO states, “Older people have the highest risk of death or serious injury arising from a fall and the risk increases with age. For example, in the United States of America, 20–30% of older people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head trauma.”
In addition to older folks, children are prone to falling as well. Curiosity and risk-taking often lead to children falling. Others at risk for falling include those who work at elevated heights, those with substance abuse problems, those suffering poverty; those with medical conditions; and those who live in unsafe environments. Medication side effects can also lead to serious falls.
The WHO asserts that fall prevention is possible and there are many ways to help prevent fatal falls. For example, education regarding falls is essential for parents of young children, for workers, and for senior citizens, or those who are caretakers of senior citizens. Workplace safety regulations and programs are needed for high-risk work sites like construction and building sites. Exercise and mobility training is important for older people or those with medical conditions. Reduction of medications that cause dizziness, and immobility can also help prevent fatal falls in the most vulnerable.
Motor vehicle accidents
Motor vehicle crashes were the third cause of unintentional fatal accidents in the United States The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports 35,766 fatal car accidents in 2020, with 38,824 resulting deaths. They also report 1,060 fatal crashes in Pennsylvania with 1,129 deaths. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports that in 2020:
- 286 reportable traffic crashes occurred each day (12 an hour)
- 3 people died in car crashes each day (one death every 8 hours)
Poor driver performance and/or human error were present in the majority of these car accidents, with PennDOT confirming that “alcohol use and speeding continue to be big contributors to fatal crashes.”
Car crashes are often preventable if laws are followed, and drivers stay alert. PennDOT reminds us that “85-90% of all traffic crashes involve some sort of driver error that contributes to the crash. Therefore, as drivers, we can greatly impact traffic safety by driving smart and driving defensively.”
Accidents and fatalities can be prevented by driving safely; staying alert; avoiding distracted driving; not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; following speed limits and traffic laws; wearing seatbelts; using car seats and boosters for children; using driver-assisted technology to stay in lanes, when parking, or backing out of parking spots; and using common courtesy and sense on the roads shared with other motorists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and truckers.
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to an unintentional injury, we will listen to your story. The compassionate Hanover personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are ready to help. Call our office at 717-848-3838, or submit our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation today. We maintain additional offices in York, Lancaster, Gettysburg, and Harrisburg, PA.
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client.