There is often a dizzying array of costs associated with car accidents. For the individuals involved, there are likely to be medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work from the auto accident. For surviving family members of victims in fatal accidents, both medical expenses and funeral expenses can add financial trauma on top of tragedy.

Still, what about the nationwide cost of car accidents? According to a recently-released study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle accidents cost over $870 billion a year in terms of economic harm and its societal equivalent.

The study accounted for car and truck crashes in 2010, when just under 33,000 people lost their lives due to such collisions. That same year another 3.9 million individuals suffered injuries as a result of truck and car accidents. Finally, a whopping 24 million vehicles sustained damage from the wrecks. While no price can be placed on the human toll of these accidents, the economic impact of the 2010 accidents was $277 billion. The remaining $594 billion was associated with damage stemming from loss of human life, decreased quality of life and pain.

While the dollar amounts likely seem staggering, they account for a truly comprehensive view of the financial fallout from car accidents. This includes productivity loss, transportation costs, rehabilitation costs, legal fees, emergency services expenses and insurance costs. The study also broke down the costs as they related to risky driving behavior. For example, drunk driving amounted to nearly $200 billion in costs, while distracted driving cost $129 billion. Speeding, something many Northern Virginians witness – or do – every day, cost $210 billion.

As the study shows, motor vehicle crashes are costly beyond belief. At the individual level, the costs can coalesce into a murky morass that is completely overwhelming. There are options, however,, if an accident is caused by another’s negligence. This relief can take the form of compensation obtained through a successful personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death action.

Source:, “Report: Car, truck crashes cost whopping $871 billion a year,” May 29, 2014