In the United States and worldwide, car accidents are a serious problem. In 2010 alone, car crashes cost our nation an estimated 836 billion dollars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The economic costs of car accidents alone in the U.S. was estimated at $242 billion or about $784 per person.
In Florida specifically, car-accident-related deaths cost the state and its residents an estimated $3.02 billion or roughly $1.2 million per death in 2013, according to the Center for Disease Control. Moreover, out of the 3.02 billion dollar expense incurred by the state that year, $32 million was spent on medical costs, and $2.99 billion was expended due to work-loss costs.
What Type of Damages are Incurred in a Car Accident in Florida?
When an auto accident occurs, the parties involved and society as a whole usually suffer damages due to the accident. These damages can be separated into two broad distinct categories economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Damages in Florida
Economic damages are costs that can be tracked directly such as property damage and medical bills. If the total economic losses incurred by the U.S. are divided equally among each state, the 242 billion dollars in economic losses equals around $4.84 billion in economic losses per state. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), Florida alone had 235,461 car crashes in 2010, which would equal an average economic cost per accident of $20,555, when the average cost per state figure is used in the calculation.
Although these are just estimates, these figures can give us some insight into the average cost of each auto accident. The NHTSA further indicated that 10% of the economic costs incurred were due to medical bills and an astounding 31% was due to property damage. Moreover, critically injured car accident survivors incurred damages of $820,000 on average due to medical bills and losses in productivity.
Non-Economic Damages in Florida
In contrast, non-economic damages are not quantified based on hard data, but rather, they are damages assessed by observed losses the most common of which is quality of life valuations. The annual quality of life losses, due to car crashes, incurred by individuals and society in the U.S. were estimated at 594 billion dollars in 2010, which equates to roughly $1,924 per person or 11.88 billion dollars per state.
State Minimum Auto Insurance Policy in Florida
Unfortunately, comparing the Florida state minimum insurance rates with the costs of an auto accident can be troubling. The state requires drivers to carry $10,000 worth of personal injury protection coverage to pay for the policy holder’s medical bills and $10,000 worth of property damage liability coverage to pay for damage to another person’s vehicle.
If your vehicle is financed your lien holder might require you to carry “full coverage”, which typically includes $10,000 worth of collision coverage to pay for damages to your own vehicle in the event of an accident and $10,000 of comprehensive coverage to protect against vandalism and other non-accident related events.
When you consider that, on average, a accident might cost you over $20,000 and a catastrophic non-fatal accident could cost over $800,000, it is clear that the minimum amount of insurance required by law, or your lien holder, is not enough to protect you in the event of an accident. This information demonstrates why you should always carry more insurance than is required by law and why you should always contact a car accident lawyer in Tampa, FL after an accident in order to evaluate your legal options.
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