Category: Wrongful Death

Motor vehicle accidents in Michigan and around the country claimed more than 40,000 lives in 2021, and excessive speed was a factor in many of them. Speeding and driving too fast for prevailing road conditions is now the leading cause of fatal car accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the problem is getting worse. Between 2018 and 2021, the number of road users killed in speed-related accidents rose by 28.1% from 8,632 to 11,057.

Risky behavior

The most worrying surge in speed-related deaths occurred in 2020 when travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders emptied the roads. Experts believe that these conditions explain a sudden rise in risky behavior like speeding and driving drunk. In Michigan, 2,344 of the 9,293 fatal motor vehicle accidents that took place in 2020 involved at least one driver who was exceeding the posted speed limit or driving at a dangerous speed.

Young drivers and motorcyclists

Young drivers and motorcyclists are the groups most likely to be killed in speed related crashes according to the NHTSA data. In 2020, speed was a factor in more than 35% of the fatal accidents involving motorcycles and drivers under the age of 25. The data also reveals that men are more likely to drive at reckless speeds than women. Between 2012 and 2021, speed was a factor in 29% of fatal accidents involving male drivers and 23.5% of the deadly crashes involving female drivers.

Harsher speeding penalties

Motorists who drive at excessive speeds are a danger to all road users. Excessive speed is a factor in more than a quarter of all fatal traffic accidents, and the problem has become much worse in recent years. If the penalties for speeding and reckless driving were made more severe, the nation’s roads could become safer.

When you lose a loved one in the state of Michigan due to somebody else’s actions, you may have the right to sue them for damages. These types of lawsuits are referred to as wrongful death lawsuits and allow you to collect monetary damages from the culpable party. However, not just anybody can file a wrongful death lawsuit when a death occurs.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is fairly similar to a personal injury lawsuit. If you experienced a serious injury due to somebody else’s negligence, recklessness or deliberate behavior, you could sue them for monetary damages. A wrongful death lawsuit is very similar to this except for the fact that the victim is unable to sue their assailant because they are dead.

To stand in their place, each state outlines specific people who are allowed to sue the culpable party. Generally, the deceased person’s spouse and children may sue the party responsible for the wrongful death. Some states extend this to include extended family members like siblings, grandparents, aunts and even uncles. It’s best to check with a lawyer in your state to determine whether or not you have grounds for filing a wrongful death lawsuit because of the death of your loved one.

What type of damages can you collect?

Wrongful death lawsuits are all about receiving monetary damages. These damages can be for a variety of different things, including medical bills, burial expenses, lost contributions, and the loss of consortium. It’s important to note that not all states allow you to collect punitive damages, so it’s best to check with a lawyer in your state.

While the purpose of traffic laws is to keep people on the roads safe, many of these laws receive a significant amount of opposition. For example, many motorcyclists in Michigan argue against a mandatory helmet law. In response to this opposition, Michigan repealed its universal helmet law several years ago. 

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that this move had dire consequences. 

Spike in motorcycle fatalities and head injuries

For the past few years, the state of Michigan permitted motorcyclists who are 21 or older to ride a motorcycle without a helmet after repealing the universal helmet law. However, all motorcyclists who choose to ride without a helmet need to have $20,000 of accident insurance, according to the revised helmet law. According to a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan, the fatality rate among riders without a helmet was double the fatality rate of riders with helmets. Jessica Cicchino, who is the IIHS vice president for research, noted that they saw a major increase in head injuries, which can have a significant impact on the victims and their families.

The data

The researched conducted by U-M and IIHS covered the 12 months immediately before and following April 2012, which is when the state of Michigan chose to repeal its mandatory helmet law.

The study focused on head-injury data as well as all police-reported deaths involving motorcycle crashes. During the two-year period for the study, there were more than 7,000 motorcycle riders who crashed. About 1,000 of these motorcyclists had to be hospitalized at a trauma center for their injuries.

According to the study, the number of motorcycle-related fatalities did not increase substantially in the two-year period for the study. However, over this period of time, the fatality rate among motorcyclists without helmets was 5.4 percent. On the other hand, the fatality rate of motorcyclists with helmets was just 2.8 percent. Essentially, the fatality rate for un-helmeted motorcyclists was double the fatality rate for helmeted motorcyclists in the state of Michigan.

After the repeal of the universal helmet law, the percentage of patients of trauma centers with head injuries increased 14 percent. While these patients were 17 percent less likely to have concussion-related injuries, 38 percent more of these patients had skull fractures.

Some advocates for the revision of the universal law argued that such a move would increase tourism. If the repeal of the universal helmet law truly did boost tourism, the visiting motorcyclists aren’t getting into many accidents. According to the study conducted by the U-M and the IIHS, 95 percent of the bikes involved in motorcycle crashes were registered in Michigan.

Strong opinions on both sides

Many bikers have strong feelings about needing a helmet (or not). Yet undoubtedly, the repeal of the universal helmet law led to a major rise in fatalities and injuries related to motorcycle crashes. If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney to plan your next steps.