Holiday travel generally means more vehicles on our roadways. When you combine poor weather with the usual culprits of intoxicated and distracted drivers that plague our roads at any time of the year, you usually find a higher rate of accidents and fatalities. The Bureau of Transportation statistics indicate that long distance travel for the Thanksgiving holiday increases by 54% with 90% of that by auto. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are 50,000 non-fatal but disabling car accidents nationwide over the Thanksgiving holiday. Over the Christmas holidays, the rate is around 37,000.
Thanksgiving car accidents have been among the highest of all our national holidays along with Labor Day and Independence Day. Other holidays where there are more car accidents than normal but less so than these 3 holidays include New Year’s, Christmas, Veteran’s Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, and MLK Day. As you might expect, Independence Day is usually the worst day for accidents since it is in the Summer and traditionally involves outdoor barbequing and drinking. But in some years, Thanksgiving has been the deadliest day of the year.
The National Safety Council (NSA) reports that about one-third of all accidents on Thanksgiving are alcohol-related. And if you are in a rural area, you are more likely to suffer a fatal accident as the American Automobile Association estimates that 67% of fatal car accidents occur there. Drivers in these locations are apparently less likely to wear a seat belt and have to wait longer for help to arrive.
Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Driving
There are steps you can take if you do plan on driving during Thanksgiving week or day:
- Prepare your car. Be sure your tires are relatively new and carry chains if snow is likely. Check oil and fluids including wipers, cooling and heating, and radiator.
- Bring an emergency kit that includes bottled water, snacks, flashlight, battery-operated radio, blankets, tire repair materials, and fire extinguisher.
- Check the weather. If heavy snow and sleet are expected, wait another day.
- Leave early and avoid congestion.
- Wear your seat belt. Massachusetts drivers are among the worst users of seat belts in the nation.
- Drive defensively and do not speed. Expect distracted drivers at any time of the day and intoxicated drivers as the evening wears on.
- Do not take any opioids before you drive
- Let someone else drive if you were drinking at all
- Avoid driving after 6:00 p.m.
- Consider increasing your auto insurance liability, uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) amounts to at least $100,000
Maintaining a safe speed, avoiding road rage, and being prepared will get you to your destination safely.
Damages in Car Accident Claims
Damages vary widely in car accident claims. Your damages can be catastrophic in some cases or a loved one may have suffered fatal injuries. Massachusetts is a no-fault state where you are entitled to PIP benefits of up to $8,000 for medical costs and lost earnings regardless of fault. But it is vital that you have sufficient UM and UIM since the minimum liability coverage is only $20,000/$40,000. This means that in an accident caused by a driver with minimum coverage, a single victim can only receive up to $20,000 and all victims up to $40,000. It is estimated that about 20% of all motorists on the road are uninsured.
If your medical expenses exceed $2,000 or you have suffered a serious or fatal injury, you can bring a third party claim for damages. These include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Decreased earning capacity
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
- Cost of vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
For a wrongful death claim, the administrator for the decedent’s estate can bring a claim on behalf of the immediate family members. Damages for these claims are:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses if incurred during final treatment
- Value of income the decedent could reasonably have been expected to earn in his or her lifetime
- Pain and suffering of the decedent but only if the decedent was observed to have consciously suffered before succumbing to injuries
- Loss of the decedent’s love, care, companionship, comfort, guidance and counsel as provided to family members
- Punitive damages for gross negligence or conduct that is grossly negligent or willful, malicious, wanton or reckless
Retain Car Accident Lawyer Paul Tetzel
If you or a loved one suffered injuries during the Thanksgiving holidays or at any other time, you will need an experienced and seasoned car accident lawyer to make sure your claim is handled competently and professionally. Many issues arise during injury claims that are unexpected and can derail an otherwise routine claim, especially if you try to handle your claim on your own or have an inexperienced attorney. Statistics consistently show that claimants receive far more in compensation if represented by competent counsel than if they handled the claims themselves, even accounting for legal fees.
Call Paul Tetzel at 617-933-3858 for a free consultation about your accident claim.