traffic fatalities

Road traffic increases on most major holidays as people travel to visit family and friends; New Year’s is no exception. According to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) traffic study of six major holidays, New Year’s Eve came in at the fifth deadliest. New Year’s Eve traffic accident statistics also reveal what is probably obvious; drinking and driving play a major role in the traffic accidents that do occur and that more accidents happen in years where New Year’s Eve falls on a weekend.

New Year’s traffic accident statistics

New Year’s pedestrian accidents

The NSC study, which covered the period between 1986 and 2002, found that January 1 (most likely starting after midnight) is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians. In large cities partiers are more likely to choose walking from a party to a hotel or back home and with drunk drivers out on the road, there is an increased risk of a deadly accident. In fact, NSC statistics found that 42 percent of traffic fatalities on New Year’s Eve are because of drinking and driving compared to 35 percent on Christmas, which is the least deadly of the six major holidays for driving. Winter driving conditions also play a role in the increase in car accidents on New Year’s in Northern states.

Who is liable for my injuries in a drunk driving accident?

Liability for a drunk driving accident depends on a number of factors. Some examples include:

  1. If you were hit by a drunk driver – a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher – the driver (and his insurance) will be liable for your injuries and property damage. In addition to increased insurance premiums, the driver will also likely face a felony Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge or even a vehicular manslaughter charge in a crash that causes a fatality. In some cases such as wrongful death, the driver may be sued in civil court for punitive damages.
  2. If you were hit by a drunk driver after they were served alcohol at a commercial entity then the commercial entity may bear some liability for your injuries. Businesses like bars, night clubs and pubs are ruled by a “duty of care” to the people consuming the establishment’s alcoholic beverages. If it can be established that the person who caused the injuries was served alcohol by an establishment after that person was observed to be intoxicated then the business may be liable under negligence law. A car accident lawyer will work to establish that the business or bartender acted outside of a “reasonable standard of conduct” when serving the individual. For example, it might be outside of a reasonable standard of conduct for a bartender to serve a person six alcoholic beverages in a one hour period and then allow them to drive home.
  3. If you were hit by a drunk driver after they were served alcohol at a private residence then the social host may bear some liability for your injuries. Social host liability law places responsibility on the “social host”- often the homeowner – who hosts a house party. Many states, including Washington, have social host liability laws for drinking that involves underage minors. If a guest of any age was served an unreasonable amount of alcohol and then allowed to leave and drive home, the social host may be liable.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!