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Car wrecks and coronaries common during Thanksgiving

Residents of West Virginia should be aware that mortality rates spike dramatically during the Thanksgiving season. The reason is twofold: More accidents occur on the roads, and more people have coronary events.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a Fatality Analysis Reporting System that collects data on fatal and non-fatal car crashes. The numbers can be startling. In 2012, for example, there were 764 fatal crashes on Thanksgiving and more than 50,000 non-fatal, while Christmas saw 654 fatal incidents. 40 percent of the fatalities on Thanksgiving were caused by drunk driving, while 60 percent neglected to wear a safety belt.

Heart attack rates also increase, mainly because the holiday puts stress on people and causes them to rush around or become negligent. For instance, some may forget to take their medication while traveling. An increase in the consumption of alcohol and salty foods is another factor.

Many of these incidents are preventable. The NHTSA warns drivers every year to check for proper tire inflation and functional windshield wipers. Drivers should also give themselves plenty of time before heading out so that they don't have to rush. Weather, traffic, and road conditions are always important to consider. On the other hand, those who feel they've overeaten should refrain from sports and other activities.

If someone is injured in an automobile accident on Thanksgiving, then there's a good chance that negligence or downright recklessness has a part to play. A lawyer may be able to hire investigators to gather up paperwork like police reports and medical documents and reconstruct the accident scene; that way, the victim has proof to back up his or her personal injury claim. The lawyer may then decide to negotiate with the other driver's insurance company for an informal settlement. If the insurer refuses payment or proposes a low settlement, then it may be time for litigation.

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
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