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The Leading Causes of Accidental Death in the U.S.

Posted in Blog, Health News on September 26, 2023


“Accidents happen.” That’s a phrase most people hear throughout their lives — although typically it applies to the unavoidable mistakes and mishaps that may affect a small part of your life. However, sometimes the term “accidents” can mean something much more serious, like an unintentional injury or death. According to the CDC, unintentional deaths are the third most common cause of death. While still accidents, unintentional deaths bring a new meaning to the word “accident.” 

With this in mind and our mission to serve those who suffer from mistakes, we decided to take a deeper look into the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. and how often they occur.

How We Collected Accidental Fatalities Data

To collect our data, we analyzed CDC Wonder data for unintentional deaths by state over the last five years. We analyzed two age groups: ages 1 through 14 and ages 15 and older. For ages 1 through 14, we were able to collect data on unintentional drowning rates by state. For ages 15 and older, we collected data on the leading cause of unintentional death per state as well as unintentional death rates by poisoning and motor vehicle accidents in each state, two of the leading causes.

Using this data, we created a series of graphics that represents the death rates for each set of data we collected. To see what we found, take a look at the graphics below.

Most Common Accidental Deaths in the U.S.

To begin, we created a map that shows the leading causes of accidental deaths in America by each state. Between motor vehicle traffic, poisoning, and falling, unintentional poisoning was the leading cause in 29 out of 50 states. Motor vehicle traffic was the leading cause of unintentional deaths in 11 out of 50 states, and falling was the leading cause of unintentional death in 10 states.

U.S. map of leading causes of accidental death in ages 15 and up

We also decided to look at the rates of unintentional poisoning deaths in each state for people aged 15 and older. West Virginia had the highest rate of unintentional poisoning deaths with 47.4 deaths per 100,000 people. States that surround West Virginia, such as Ohio (36.3), Kentucky (33.6), and Pennsylvania (33) also had high death rates. The opioid crisis that is ravaging that region likely contributes to this, as many people unintentionally overdose on drugs, causing death.

U.S. map of accidental poisoning deaths per state in ages 15 and up

The next cause of unintentional death we looked as was motor vehicle deaths for people over the age of 15. The state with the highest rate is Mississippi, with an unintentional motor vehicle death rate of 28.5 deaths per 100,000 people. Mississippi drivers are more likely to take risks associated with driving under the influence, which potentially contributes to the problem. Alabama and South Carolina follow Mississippi with rates of 23.6 and 22.5 deaths per 100,000 people respectively. Other states that had high rates of unintentional motor vehicle death were Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Montana.

U.S. map of accidental motor vehicle deaths per state in ages 15 and up

The last piece of data that we collected is the unintentional drowning death rate by state for people aged 1 through 14. Louisiana has the highest rate of unintentional drowning deaths in children with 2.59 deaths (per 100,000 people). This rate is even worse for young children aged 1 through 4, where the rate of accidental drowning is over double the national rate. Florida, which is almost completely surrounded by water, has the second highest rate of accidental drowning in children — 2.44 deaths per 100,000 people. After Louisiana and Florida, the states with the next highest unintentional drowning death rates in children are Alaska (2.20) and Oklahoma (2.14).

A U.S map of unintentional drowning deaths by the state for individuals ages 1 - 14.

If you or someone you love has suffered from the consequences of an accidental death, don’t hesitate to offer or accept help. There are plenty of resources that can assist in situations like this, such as how to deal with grief in the case of accidental deaths. 

At Weiss & Paarz, we are dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice earn justice from mistakes and accidents. To learn more about what we do, please visit our page on medical malpractice.

Accidental Death Data Disclaimer

The information and specific statistics displayed above are solely designed to provide general knowledge to the public and are being used as a part of attorney marketing. Cited statistics and statements were taken from research of various independent websites (referenced above). Weiss & Paarz did not take any steps to replicate the findings of any sources used in this infographic, nor were the numbers or results displayed above independently verified by Weiss & Paarz.



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