Every day, thousands of people are injured in auto accidents, slip and falls, workplace injuries, and many other types of dangerous incidents. But few of us expect to go through one ourselves. The reality is that personal injuries are more common than we'd like to imagine. Many of us will, at some point or another, have a reason to file a personal injury claim.
This article takes a look at nationwide personal injury statistics to understand the who, what, where, and how of personal injury incidents in America. For specific advice about your situation, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.
How many people are injured each year?
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 31 million Americans require medical treatment due to general injuries each year. This includes 2 million people whose injuries require hospitalization. Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that an estimated 5.5 million car accidents happen on an annual basis within the United States. These auto accidents result in roughly 3 million injuries and 40,000 fatalities. The NHTSA also reports that accidents involving semi trucks cause 60,000 injuries annually with 5,000 resulting fatalities. Another common cause of accident injuries is the workplace. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 4.6 million people require medical treatment for job-related injuries each year. One of the most dangerous workplaces is construction sites. Every year, they lead to approximately 300,000 injuries and over 1,000 fatal injuries. When discussing how many people are injured each year, many people are surprised to hear that the third leading cause of death in America is medical malpractice. Each year, medical errors cause as many as 250,000 fatalities.
How many people are killed from an injury or accident each year?
Each year, over 173,000 deaths result from unintentional injury. These accidents happen practically everywhere: on the road, in the workplace, in retail stores, and in any other location where people are going about their normal routines. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for all people under the age of 55. Each year, more than 38,000 people are killed in car crashes on U.S. roadways. This makes the United States the deadliest place to drive a car out of any high-income country. In fact, it's about 50% higher than similar countries like Canada, Australia, and Japan.
Does a certain type of person get injured or killed more often than others?
Multiple studies have shown a link between socioeconomic status and the likelihood of becoming accidentally injured. For example, having a lower income can put you at greater risk for car accident injuries. Lower-income individuals are more likely to walk or bike to get around which is much more dangerous than driving. Additionally, the infrastructure of lower-income areas isn't maintained as well as higher income areas. Hazards like potholes across the city of Chicago are insufficiently patched or altogether overlooked in certain areas. Housing in lower-income neighborhoods also presents its own hazards. Many premise liability cases involve property owners who neglect to fix obvious hazards, electrical issues, damaged staircases, and other dangers in their rental units. Where you work impacts your risk of getting injured as well. Employees who work on or near heavy equipment are more likely to be involved in a workplace accident. Not surprisingly, construction, steelwork, and trucking are among the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States.
How many people file personal injury claims each year?
Now that we have addressed how common it is for someone to be injured or killed by unnatural causes in the United States, let's look at how they recover. All 50 states offer some form of legal protection against negligence that results in injury. This allows injured victims to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party or parties to get compensation for their damages. The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2005, 60% of property, contract, and tort cases involved a personal injury. The exact number of personal injury claims that are filed each year is difficult to determine since they rarely make it to a courtroom. But we do know that only 5% of personal injury claims make it to a courtroom. Based on this data, it's safe to estimate that there are somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 personal injury cases each year in the United States. Additionally, the Department of Justice provided a breakdown of the various types of personal injury cases. They discovered that:
- 52% result from Car Accidents
- 15% result from Medical Malpractice
- 5% result from Product Liability Issues
- 28% result from Other Causes
How often do injury victims win their personal injury cases?
Saying that someone “won” their case is a loaded phrase in America. It's usually used to mean that someone received financial compensation for their injuries. However, the most common way people get that compensation is through a settlement before a case ever goes to trial. This means it is impossible to tell how many settlements are agreed to out of all the claims filed. However, we can look at the cases that go to trial but you have to keep in mind that these cases have unique circumstances so they cannot be used as an indicator. A report on trial outcomes from the Department of Justice showed that roughly half of personal injury plaintiffs win their cases at trial. Success rates varied depending on the nature of the case. Success rates for:
- Car Accident Cases: ~61%
- Dog Bite Cases: ~67%
- Intentional Tort Trials: ~50%
- Premise Liability Trials: ~39%
- Product Liability Trials: ~38%
- Medical Malpractice Trials: ~19%
These success rates vary because the type of incident varies greatly. What happens during an auto accident is very different from a medical error. Personal injury claims, no matter what the cause, require experience and expertise to navigate. Although you can file a claim without an attorney, it is not recommended since the insurance companies, lawyers, and negotiators will have exponentially more experience than you. You can level this playing field by attending a free consultation with an attorney.
What types of compensation do people typically get for personal injuries?
In personal injury cases, individuals may be eligible for various types of compensation, also known as damages. The specific types of compensation awarded depend on the circumstances of the injury, the extent of the damages, and the applicable laws in the jurisdiction. Here are some common types of compensation that people may seek in personal injury cases:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for past, present, and future medical expenses related to the injury. This may include hospital bills, surgery costs, medication expenses, rehabilitation, and therapy.
- Lost Income: Reimbursement for income lost due to the injury, including wages, bonuses, and other forms of income. This may also include compensation for reduced earning capacity in the future.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by the injury. This type of compensation is often subjective and challenging to quantify.
- Property Damage: If personal property (e.g., a vehicle) is damaged in the incident that caused the injury, individuals may seek compensation for repair or replacement costs.
- Loss of Consortium: Compensation for the negative impact the injury has on the injured person's relationship with their spouse or family. This may include loss of companionship, support, and intimacy.
- Disfigurement: Compensation for any permanent disfigurement or scarring resulting from the injury.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the at-fault party for intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the injured person but to deter similar behavior in the future.
- Wrongful Death Damages: If the injury results in death, the surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, and loss of companionship.
- Rehabilitation Costs: Compensation for the costs of rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or vocational rehabilitation.
- Travel Expenses: Compensation for any reasonable travel expenses related to medical treatment or other injury-related matters.
- Legal Fees: In some cases, the prevailing party may be entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.
The availability and limits of these types of compensation can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can help individuals understand their rights, assess the value of their claim, and navigate the legal process to seek appropriate compensation.
How much do personal injury victims usually get in compensation?
When reviewing the amount of compensation that personal injury victims get as a whole, it's important to remember that dollar amounts are hard to gather and are estimates. This data was gathered by using the largest 75 counties in America as a sample. The numbers below are medians, which is found by dividing the total amount of money received by how many people filed a claim. It is important to remember that some people received less and some people received more. From the study, it was revealed that the median award amount was:
- $27,000 for all torts
- $16,000 for car accidents
- $59,000 for premise liability and slip and falls
- $18,000 for animal attacks and dog bites
- $422,000 for medical malpractice
- $450,000 for product liability cases
- $37,000 for intentional injuries
How long do personal injury cases take?
There is no definitive amount of time for a personal injury case, but you can look at the experience of injury attorneys. Based on anecdotal evidence, the average personal injury claim that settles without going to court is 9 to 18 months. When a personal injury claim goes to trial, it takes about 2 years.