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Understanding the full costs of a fatal motor vehicle accident

Life is expensive. But as it turns out, so is death. And the costs of preventable deaths in the United States are much steeper than you might think. As an example, consider automobile accidents.

According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 people are killed in auto accidents on U.S. roads and highways each year. In 2005, the costs associated with those fatal crashes was $41 billion. That year, Georgia was the state with the fourth-largest share of those costs. Fatal accidents in 2005 cost our state $1.55 billion.

These dollar figures are based on just two of the many costs associated with fatal car accidents: Medical bills and lost income. Medical costs that year totaled $17 million, while another $1.53 billion was related to work loss.

When calculating work-loss expenses, it is important to remember that a deceased auto accident victim has lost his or her earning potential for as many years as they would have continued to work. Therefore, researchers calculated costs as “the total estimated salary, fringe benefits, and value of household work that an average person – of the same age and sex as the person who died – would be expected to earn over the remainder of his or her lifetime.”

If you have lost a spouse or other family member in a motor vehicle accident, you understand just how devastating this loss can be – financially as well as emotionally. Many families in Georgia depend on the combined income of both parents in order to make ends meet. A fatal car accident can result in financial insecurity (or worse) if an income-earning parent or spouse has died.

No one wants to think of money while they are trying to grieve the loss of a loved one. And for the most part, it is fine to give yourself time. After life has returned to the new “normal,” however, you may wish to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver through a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced attorney can help you calculate financial damages that are both appropriate and necessary to the financial wellbeing of your family.

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