When looking at the top 10 causes of death in Oklahoma based on CDC data, it’s easy to see that most deaths are health-related. Eight out of 10 involve chronic or acute health conditions, and the top three are all health-related, and include heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease. But ranking 4th for all age groups is accidents.
The category of accidents covers a wide swath of situations and scenarios that can lead to serious injuries and deaths; it’s what we focus on every day as personal injury lawyers. Many people think of fatal accidents as being mostly car crashes, and while they are a major factor, they are not the only source of fatal accidents in Oklahoma.
8 Common Causes of Accidental Deaths in OK
- Poisonings—The CDC considers both accidental ingestion of poisonous or toxic substances as well as drug overdoses poisoning deaths. In Oklahoma, as in many other states, a significant number of poisoning deaths are due to opioid overdoses. This includes prescription pain medications and illegal drugs, such as heroin. Nationwide, drug poisoning deaths more than tripled from 1999 to 2016, and Oklahoma’s rate is higher than the national rate.
- Motor vehicle accidents—According to the CDC, more than 32,000 people are killed annually in car accidents in the U.S. In many states, traffic accidents are the number one cause of accidental deaths. Fatal car crashes have many causes—speeding, driving under the influence, driving while distracted, failure to yield, following too closely, inexperience, failure to slow down in inclement weather, and more. In addition, drivers and passengers who fail to wear their seat belts significantly increase their risk of dying in crashes.
- Falls—Anyone can die when they slip, trip, or fall. Younger people are most at risk of death due to falling when they hit their heads on the way down to the ground or upon impacting the ground. However, older people are at much higher risk of death due to falls overall, as they’re more likely to suffer serious, compound fractures in their legs and hips that can lead to shock and other fatal complications. Falls are among the top causes of death for senior citizens, and they’re the 8th most common cause of death among all people age 75+ in Oklahoma.
- Pedestrian Accidents—In 2017, 79 people lost their lives in Oklahoma when they were struck by vehicles while walking or standing near vehicles. Risk factors for pedestrian accidents include walking while distracted, walking too close to the road, walking during times of poor visibility (such as at night or in bad weather), or standing near a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. Jaywalking and walking outside of crosswalks can also contribute to the risk of death for pedestrians.
- Workplace accidents—The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there were 91 occupational-related deaths in Oklahoma in 2018. Although many of those deaths involved accidents in other categories, including transportation accidents and fires, many others were not. Four people were killed by animals, 11 were killed by exposure to harmful substances or environments, and nine were killed due to contact with dangerous objects and equipment.
- Drownings—By midsummer 2020, Oklahoma had already reported 44 drownings statewide. That’s three times as many drowning deaths as 2019. Drowning deaths have many causes, including swimming while intoxicated, lack of swimming ability, failure to wear life jackets, certain medical conditions (including seizure disorders), and injuries in the water. Children are especially at risk for drowning, and a lack of safety barriers to keep children out of pools combined with lack of supervision can contribute to their risk of death.
- Fires—3,655 people died in fires nationwide in 2018, and 22 people died in fires in Oklahoma City that year alone. Fire deaths are typically caused by people becoming trapped inside homes or apartment buildings when they catch fire. Residents may be unable to escape, or they may not wake up in time if the fires occur in the middle of the night. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that smoke detectors are working and to replace their batteries frequently, and to have an escape plan for yourself and your loved ones in case of fire.
- Choking or suffocation—A blocked or obstructed airway can put anyone at risk of death. Something as simple as taking a bite of food can be potentially dangerous or deadly if it becomes lodged in your throat. Infants and young children are particularly at risk, as they may be unable to signal that they are choking, making it the most common cause of accidental death among that age group. Babies and toddlers are at risk of choking both on food and small household objects that they come into contact with.
We’re Here to Help After a Serious Accident or Injury
Accidents are just that—they’re often unforeseen and can occur without warning. However, some accidents are preventable, and when other people’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness causes innocent victims to suffer or even die, it’s our goal to help them or their loved ones get maximum compensation.
If you or someone you love was harmed in an accident that was caused by another person or party, our Oklahoma personal injury attorneys want to help. The legal team at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers knows what you’re going through, and it’s our goal to get you the money you need to move forward with your life. Contact us today for a free consultation.