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Road deaths up nationally, but down in region including Louisiana

Recent statistics on traffic fatalities paint a grim picture of what is going on nationally. But, for a five-state area that includes Louisiana, there is actually some encouraging news.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 18,000 people lost their lives on U.S. roads and highways from January through June of this year. This represents an increase of over 10 percent compared to the same six-month period last year.

An improving economy may be partly to blame for the increased fatalities. The recovery from the Great Recession has meant more people are back at work, which means more people on the road. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the number of miles driven from Jan. through June was up by more than 50 billion over the same period in 2015.

The biggest increase in traffic deaths occurred in four states -- Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Deaths in these states were up by 20 percent. Traffic fatalities were also up in New England and the Mid-Atlantic region. There was only one region that experienced a decrease -- fatalities were down by one percent in a five-state region including Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The NHTSA did not have an explanation for the differences between regions.

A small regional decrease in fatal accidents is little comfort to Louisiana families who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Taking legal action is often the furthest thing from the minds of grieving family members. Yet losing a family member in a fatal car accident can result in serious financial loss. It can be financially devastating if the victim was a breadwinner.

If the fatal crash was caused by the negligence of another driver, Louisiana law allows the next of kin to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages can be recovered for loss of support, medical expenses, funeral expenses and pain and suffering.

Source: Washington Post, "Nearly 18,000 killed on U.S. roadways between January and June," Ashley Halsey III & Michael Laris, Oct. 5, 2016

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