Attorneys use a lot of terminology that you might not hear in day to day life. One of those phrases is “unintentional injury.” It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’s important to talk about.

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for people under age 45 in the United States. A closer look at the statistics confirms that over 60,000 Americans died from such causes in 2016 (the most recent data available), which is nearly double the total deaths from medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer among that age group.

Can unintentional injury be avoided?

So what does it mean? In short, an unintentional injury is an accident—usually a preventable accident. This could mean a car crash, injury sustained in a house fire, an electrical accident or tripping on a sidewalk. In many cases, another person might be liable for the injury because proper maintenance or precautions could have avoided it.

Life is unpredictable but there are safety measures people can take to limit or avoid injuries. Wearing a seatbelt, for example, will not prevent a car accident but it will reduce the risk of life-threatening injury. Likewise, applying a harness before working at heights is likely to save a life and even prevent injury. It’s impossible to list every scenario but, in most situations, safety protocols reduce the likelihood of getting hurt.

Preventable accidents mean liability

The data above references fatalities, which does not account for the millions of injuries caused by preventable situations every year in the country. A split-second incident can change somebody’s life physically, emotionally and financially. Many injuries don’t simply heal and go away, they leave lasting effects that may limit one’s ability to work, damage their personal relationships and cause financial hardship. While recovery is often emotionally and physically painful, fortunately victims of preventable accidents can seek compensation for their loss. If you or a loved one need help recovering from an unintentional injury, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to defend your rights.