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CDC data may shortchange human cost of drunk driving accidents

The economy in Texas and the rest of the U.S. is founded on the theory of the free market. Demand and supply is supposed to dictate the prices we pay for goods and services. But over the course of time, economy experts have come to appreciate that things aren't so simple.

There can be hidden costs connected with nearly any human activity. And so it is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pulled together a perspective on the hidden cost of excessive alcohol use. The cost in terms of early mortality gets particular CDC attention.

With all due respect to the CDC, attorneys experienced in personal injury law might argue that the figures may give short shrift to the actual costs that drunk driving accident victims and their families incur in terms of financial, physical, emotional and psychological damages.

The government agency used information from several studies on the negative social and health outcomes that could be attributed to alcohol to come up with its report. Because of the apparently high level of extrapolation involved, some suggest it includes a lot of guesswork.

With that as a preface the CDC says that the estimated cost of heavy drinking to the nation in 2010 came in at $249 billion. Broken out by specific categories, the agency says lost productivity took the biggest hit at $82 billion. Next came early mortality at $75 billion. The costs in terms of health care and crime were marked at $28- and $25 billion respectively. Car crashes received an assessment of just $13 billion.

Putting a price on the loss suffered when someone is left disabled or dead due to the negligence of a drunk driver may make some uncomfortable. But seeking compensation through civil action often provides a sense of closure and justice that may be unobtainable otherwise. Consulting an attorney is always advisable.

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