2020 is a year that will leave its mark on the US and humanity in general as it was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and all its effects. One of these effects was seeing fewer, to no, people on the streets and a minimum amount of car traffic. That had consequences for Personal Injury law firms. However, are PI cases, especially those involving severe injury, actually decreasing?
In a previous article, back in October 2020, we looked into the Google search volumes for car accidents and their correlation with car traffic and car accidents. The big picture signaled significant intent and interest despite the overall drop in car traffic. That was something likely unforeseen by the majority due to the restrictions that were in place (and in some cases still are), the lockdowns, and social distancing that led to emptier streets. Today, we won’t concentrate on search volumes, but instead on the situation with car accidents. We’ll give an overview of stats and data for 2020 and explore the pandemic’s impact on serious accidents/injuries. We’ll explore what this might mean for PI law firm Google Ads and how attorneys can use them to sign more meaningful cases amid COVID-19.
Let’s start looking at some of the most crucial data and facts: Car traffic is down, and that’s a fact that nobody can dispute. Does this mean fewer accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the streets? According to studies and projections, that hasn’t been the case.
This first chart gives us an overview of the first three quarters of 2020. Last quarter statistics are not available yet, but we’ll keep the article updated as soon as they are out. We can see a slight decrease during 2nd quarter, but the highest raise in the 3rd quarter makes up for this. The 11,260 fatalities are the highest authorities have noted in the last decade, in any quarter. The total number for the first nine months is the highest of the decade (or 13 years, to be precise).
This second chart does not refer to hard-numbers but gives us an overview of the rates, and this is even more important, as the drop in car traffic reflects the significant increase of the rate. During the first quarter, the rate was up compared to 2019 and identical to what we saw in 2016. The first couple of months were still COVID-free, and we were allowed to live under the normality we used to know until that time. Then things changed, and the next two quarters found us in significant changes. The rates we notice there (1.45 & 1.48) are the highest for all the years we have data for, and you might wonder how this is even possible with such limited traffic?
If we try looking at some location-specific data, we’ll get an improved understanding of the big picture. In New York, drivers, passengers, and motorcyclists’ deaths rose by 76%, to a staggering 120 people, a record for NYC, while speeding tickets have also doubled despite the empty streets. Reports from Los Angeles show that speeding tickets for driving over 100mph rose by 87% amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Another report, coming from Georgia, signaled a similar increase in speeding, with 140 tickets for driving over 100mph just during the month of April.
Let’s now look at the reasons why this is even possible. One would expect things to be on the quiet side; less traffic would result in fewer accidents, less damage, and a lower fatality rate. There are, however, some reasons why we’ve been monitoring this unfortunate increase.
- Reduced economic activity has resulted in fewer (to absent) traffic jams. Several researches have shown that congestion means fewer accidents. The new reality leaves the roads open for driving at higher speeds, resulting in increased chances of more severe incidents and more solemn injuries.
- The reduced entertainment options have pushed people to turn to their motor vehicles for an escape. That can mean multiple things, and we’ll list a few. People who are bored at home sometimes hop in their cars or motorcycles for a ride. That could mean people who haven’t been driving for a while or people who see it as an opportunity to speed and test their limits. Another downside is that drag-racing took over the empty streets in many cities during the evenings, with multiple examples of crashes and accidents. Finally, both drivers and pedestrians are gradually less focused on the road, resulting in the increase we’ve seen above.
- Finally, there are reports of an increase in the percentage of people driving under the influence of alcohol or substances used to cope with the pandemic, which is another factor for more frequent and severe accidents.
On a positive note, despite the rise in bicycle usage, cyclist deaths remained at the same levels as last year.
What does all this mean for your Law Firm?
In a brief overview, it means that opportunity is still there despite reduced overall car traffic. As we’ve seen throughout the article, accidents are on the rise, with an increased number of fatalities and severe injuries (yes, these are potentially the million-dollar cases your law firm has been after for years). The real question is how you’ll manage to attract those prospective clients and help them with their claims. From our perspective, the answer is bilingual Pay Per Click for the following reasons:
- Older people are mostly staying at home, while younger generations are more likely to be out on the streets because they are more fed up with the restrictions and sometimes less cautious due to lower fear levels. This generation also lives more in the online world, and they are often disconnected from traditional advertising such as radio or television. When they want something, they’ll look it up online, and this is no different when they need your attorney services.
- Google Ads can yield measurable and fast results. In comparison to SEO, which needs long-term commitment and several months before you start seeing results, PPC can generate ROI within the first week. Isn’t this what your law firm is looking for in marketing? As soon as your campaigns are optimized and live, prospective clients can find you and get in touch with you.
- PPC is not only Google Ads, but also Facebook Ads for Attorneys (and even Instagram). There’s increased value for social media ads right now as people spend more time online. These platforms make up one of their main socializing outlets, and you can get in front of them at competitive price points. Imagine how powerful it would be if a Facebook user involved in an accident gets online to share his news with a friend or relative and sees one of your ads. Even if he didn’t consider talking to an attorney before, he might think again, click on your ad, and call you, becoming your next client.
- We insist on bilingual (Spanish) ads, and there is a reason behind this. The first (and we’ve talked about it multiple times in the past) is that US Hispanics represent the most significant untapped potential for law firms. Depending on your practice area and location, competition might be lower while the demographic is highly important. But it’s not only that. Amid COVID-19, a meaningful percentage of Latinx are working as first responders. These people are still on the streets, driving to their jobs, and their chances of involvement in accidents are higher compared to people who strictly stay at home.
What are our key takeaways?
- Overall traffic volumes have decreased compared to previous years, but accidents, severe injuries, and fatality rates are rising.
- The most critical factors for this strange (at first sight) rise is reckless driving and reduced traffic congestion that results in speeding.
- These facts create an opportunity for Personal Injury law firms to attract new cases and stay profitable despite the economic downturns.
- Your best chances at getting in front of your prospective clients are through PPC in English and Spanish, capturing their interest when they need you the most.