According to a recently-released National Safety Council (NSC) report, the number of accidental deaths and injuries is at an “all-time high.” In fact, the rate of accidental deaths spiked more than 7 percent in 2015, accounting for an additional 146,571 lives lost that year. As a result, accidental deaths have become the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease take more lives.
According to the NSC’s Ken Kolosh, we shouldn’t refer to these deaths as accidental because “they’ve been proven over and over again to be 100 percent preventable.” By using terms like accidental or unintentional, we create the assumption that nothing can be done to prevent these injuries and fatalities. The reality is, when people follow certain safety precautions, the risk of accidental injury or death drops dramatically.
Over the past thirty years, U.S. deaths have actually dropped by nearly 20 percent, while “accidental” deaths have risen about 27 percent. To further emphasize the severity of this problem, consider the following calculation: if accidental deaths had followed the trend of overall deaths, nearly 60,000 lives would have been saved in 2015. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
Why the Increase in Accidental Deaths?
According to the NSC, factors contributing to the increase in accidental deaths may include:
- An increase in unintentional poisonings, fueled mostly by the nation’s opioid crisis (opioid overdoses are involved in 46 deaths every day in this country);
- An unexplained rise in fall-related deaths;
- Rise in deaths related to car crashes (nearly 38,000 deaths in 2015)—many experts believe distracted driving is to blame, but there are also simply more motor vehicles on the road than at any time in history.
The NSC predicts that the 2016 figures will be even higher—it estimates a six percent or greater increase (these figures won’t be released for at least several months).
How to Prevent Accidental Deaths
Accidental poisonings by way of opioid and other prescription drug overdoses can be avoided by discussing possible drug interactions with your doctor and ensuring that all medications are properly labeled and stored in your medicine chest. You should also:
- Take medications exactly as prescribed;
- When first taking a medication, report any problems to your physician immediately;
- Never take another person’s painkillers’
- Use a pill box to organize multiple medications;
- Keep a diary of how much medication you are taking and when you take it.
Motor vehicle accident fatalities can be reduced by following the safety precautions below:
- Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Do not speed;
- Always wear a seatbelt;
- Avoid driving in inclement weather whenever possible;
- Avoid driving late at night whenever possible;
- Never text or talk on the phone while driving;
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order at all times;
- Obey traffic rules.
Accidental deaths related to falls can be reduced by following the tips below:
- Avoid getting excessively drunk;
- If you need glasses, wear them;
- Area rugs should have non-slip backing, and corners that stick up should be nailed down;
- Place a rubber mat in your tub or shower;
- Keep walkways well lit and clear of clutter and debris;
- If using a ladder, make sure that it is in good repair and you know how to use it properly;
- Avoid walking on icy sidewalks or wet floors;
- If you have balance problems, use a walker or cane;
- Maintain your health and physical fitness through regular exercise.
A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in any type of accident.