As virtually every industry across the country struggles with inflation and rising costs, auto insurance industry experts anticipate that premiums will increase nationwide in 2023. This announcement, while somewhat predictable, still creates concerns for drivers throughout Southern California. As individuals and families face increasing grocery costs, rent hikes, and other financial concerns, paying more for car insurance is not welcome news. However, more costly premiums stem from a corresponding uptick in car crashes, both within California and across the country. Drivers are engaging in riskier behaviors, such as texting behind the wheel, speeding, and driving while intoxicated, leading to an increased number of accident-related injuries and fatalities. Let’s take a look at some factors driving up the number of car accident injuries in Riverside County and what drivers can do to pursue compensation in the event they suffer such an injury at the hands of a negligent driver.
Auto Accident Collisions Continue to Rise
During the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, most people stayed at home. The spring of 2020 saw emptier freeways and roads, with many predicting that fewer cars on the road would mean fewer accidents. However, risky driving behaviors spiked in several cities during this time, with many seeing the empty road as an invitation to exceed posted speed limits, check their phones, and engage in other distracting activities. Even as traffic levels have returned to where they were before the pandemic began, car accidents are still occurring regularly. In fact, the number of traffic fatalities has increased dramatically, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimating that 9,560 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2022—an increase of 7 percent from the same quarter in 2021. These numbers mark the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002.
Alarming Spike in Car Accidents Prompts Concern
The significant rise in fatal car accidents has prompted responses from industry leaders and watch groups. According to Dr. Steven Cliff, Administrator of the NHTSA, “The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction. Now is the time for all states to double down on traffic safety. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, there are more resources than ever for research, interventions, and effective messaging and programs that can reverse the deadly trend and save lives.” Traffic safety campaigns and educational outreach programs are working hard to remind drivers of the dangers of distracted driving or excessive speeding.
How Auto Insurance Companies Are Responding
In the midst of this upward trend in car collisions, auto insurance companies are expected to raise their rates by at least 7 percent in 2023, according to the latest predictions. Some of the factors prompting this rate hike include the increase in accidents, the rising costs of auto repairs, inflation on goods and services nationwide, and climate change-related disasters that may cause more frequent hazardous driving conditions. With labor shortages and the rising cost of many auto parts, insurance companies are finding that they must pay out more for the policyholder’s repair costs after an accident.
California is Still Trying to Prevent Insurance Rate Hikes
Many states experienced dramatic increases in their insurance rates in 2022, with Maryland, Virginia, and Oregon seeing premiums rise by more than 25 percent. Fortunately, California is still working hard to protect consumers from these dramatic increases. At the beginning of the pandemic, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara put protections in place, compelling insurance companies to compensate consumers for the excess premiums they paid during the stay-at-home months. Now, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC), and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) have filed a joint letter with Lara stating that he is “risking a crisis by refusing to approve any rate increases since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than two years ago.” For now, California insurance companies and customers alike are awaiting Lara’s response.
When an Auto Accident Injury Happens in Riverside County
Even careful and attentive drivers find themselves injured at the hands of a reckless driver. The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming and chaotic, so make sure you assess yourself and others at the scene for injuries requiring immediate medical attention. You should also contact local law enforcement to notify them of the accident. The responding officer will compile a police report, which will serve as an objective account of the incident. When you start preparing your claim, you can request a copy of the police report to support your position and show that the other driver was at fault for the incident. Even if you do not need immediate medical attention, visit your doctor within a few days of the accident to screen for any harder-to-detect conditions, like concussions or internal bleeding. These medical records will also help you document your injuries and calculate how much compensation you need to support your recovery. Be sure to enlist the help of a trusted and experienced Temecula auto accident lawyer to maximize your settlement offer.
Call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to speak to a trusted and experienced Temecula auto accident lawyer.