Minnesota road deaths increased in 2012

Over the last several years, traffic safety officials in Minnesota have been working hard to reduce the number of fatal accidents on the state's roads. Generally speaking, these officials have done well — over the last 10 years, the number of traffic accident deaths in Minnesota has declined significantly.

Unfortunately, this years-long downward trend came to an end in 2012. For the first time in five years, the number of traffic deaths in Minnesota was higher in 2012 than it was the year before. All told, 378 people were killed in Minnesota car accidents and motorcycle crashes in 2012.

The number of motorist fatalities actually fell slightly in 2012, from 283 in 2011 to 281 in 2012. Pedestrian fatalities were also down — 38 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2012, compared with 40 in 2011. However, the number of fatal motorcycle accidents rose significantly. There were 53 motorcyclist deaths in Minnesota in 2012, up from a total of 42 in 2011. Bicyclist deaths were also up slightly; there were six cyclist deaths in 2012, compared with five in 2011.

Reasons behind the increase

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says that most of the accidents can be traced back to the usual suspects — drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding. These three negligent behaviors are responsible for a significant percentage of all fatal traffic accidents, both in Minnesota and throughout the United States. According to the DPS, drunk driving causes about one-third of all traffic deaths in Minnesota each year.

Interestingly, the DPS also thinks that the somewhat unusual weather in 2012 played a role in the uptick in fatal accidents. The winter was warmer than it had been in a few years, so people tended to drive faster than they otherwise would have. In addition, an early spring contributed to a longer motorcycle riding season.

Of course, despite this bad news, it is important to remember that the overall picture for motor vehicle safety in Minnesota is still pretty good. The 2012 death toll was still significantly lower than a decade prior — there were a total of 657 traffic deaths in Minnesota in 2002. What's more, in 2011, Minnesota had one of the lowest traffic death rates in the nation, with just 0.65 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Minnesota wrongful death lawsuits

Still, it is important to remember that every single traffic death is a tragedy. These numbers are more than just mere statistics — each death represents a devastating and irreplaceable loss for the victim's family.

When a fatal accident is caused by another person's negligence, Minnesota law allows the victim's survivors to seek financial compensation by pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. Though nothing can bring the victim back, wrongful death lawsuits can help grieving families seek justice. They can also fill many of the financial holes that are left by providing compensation for losses including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost earnings and loss of the victim's care and companionship.

Minnesota law limits the time that families have to pursue wrongful death lawsuits, so it is important to take action soon after an accident. If your loved one has been killed in a Minnesota car accident, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options.