Car accidents happen every day throughout California, and tragically some of them result in fatalities. California has a reputation for dangerous traffic and a high rate of uninsured drivers, but what are the odds of dying in a car crash in California? When you review available statistics, the chances of dying in a fatal vehicle accident are relatively low.
According to available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the California Department of Transportation, and other federal and state agencies, California reports an annual average fatal vehicle accident rate of about 9.1 per 100,000 people. However, while this may indicate that you have a very small risk of experiencing a fatal vehicle accident in California, you should still get to know and understand the most common causes of fatal accidents and how to minimize your risks while driving.
How Do Fatal Accidents Happen Most Often?
Car accidents occur for a variety of reasons, and these incidents often result in injuries and economic losses for those involved. Some accidents may result in fatal injuries, and available data shows that some of the leading causes of fatal vehicle accidents in California include:
- Distracted driving. It’s vital for drivers to pay attention while operating their vehicles. Even a momentary distraction can potentially cause a devastating accident. Across the US, distracted driving is the most commonly reported cause of all accidents.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. Impaired driving is dangerous for the intoxicated driver and everyone around them. Drug and alcohol consumption impairs judgment, slows reaction time, and diminishes spatial awareness. When an impaired driver causes a fatal accident, they will likely face criminal charges in addition to civil liability for the victim’s death.
- Speeding. While any accident is capable of causing injuries, accidents that occur at higher speeds are more likely to result in fatal injuries to those involved.
- Reckless driving. Unfortunately, not all drivers operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. When drivers are reckless, they can startle other drivers or engage in moving violations that suddenly disrupt the flow of traffic and cause serious accidents.
There are many ways fatal car accidents can happen in California. Every driver should limit their risk of experiencing such accidents by using their seatbelt every time they drive, avoiding distractions behind the wheel, and driving defensively. However, despite any driver’s best efforts they cannot do anything to influence the actions of other drivers, and fatal accidents can happen for many reasons without warning.
What Happens After a Fatal Car Accident?
If you recently lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, you likely have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident. You and your family would need to identify the party responsible for the fatal accident, provide proof of the economic losses resulting from the death, and meet various procedural requirements to hold the at-fault party accountable for the death in question. An experienced attorney is an invaluable asset in this situation, as they can walk with you through each step of the process.
Your wrongful death lawyer can help you gather any evidence you may need to prove fault for the recent death of your loved one. Depending on where and how the accident occurred, this may include traffic camera recordings, vehicle computer data, cell phone records, and eyewitness statements. A successful wrongful death claim can compensate the surviving family’s loss of affection, household services, and financial support provided by the deceased. A survival action can help the family secure compensation for damages incurred by the deceased’s estate.
How Can I Reduce the Risk of Dying in a Car Crash?
Operate your vehicle responsibly, stay alert for changing traffic conditions, and wear your seatbelt at all times. Avoid dangerous maneuvers, such as illegal turns, speeding, and running red lights. While you cannot always anticipate everything other drivers will do around you, you can limit your own risk of causing a fatal accident.
Where Are Fatal Accidents Most Likely to Happen?
The NHTSA reports that fatal accidents are most likely to occur on rural roads. While California has several densely populated metropolitan areas and a large amount of traffic congestion in these areas, fatal accidents are statistically most likely to happen outside of these densely populated areas. Nevertheless, any area with lots of traffic inherently has a greater risk of accidents in general.
What Are the Most Common Fatal Injuries From Car Accidents?
Car accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, and the injuries most likely to be fatal include traumatic brain injuries, internal injuries that cause severe bleeding, and spinal cord injuries. It’s common for serious accidents to result in multiple injuries to those involved. Some victims may languish in the hospital for a long time before finally succumbing to their injuries.
How Long Will a Wrongful Death Claim Take to Resolve After a Fatal Car Accident?
Wrongful death claims can often involve complex legal proceedings that take several months to resolve. If you are unsure what to expect in your impending wrongful death claim, ask your attorney for their interpretation of your case and how they expect your proceedings to unfold. Depending on the strength of your evidence and the defendant’s willingness to accept liability, it is possible to resolve a wrongful death claim much more quickly than you might expect.
Easton & Easton have extensive experience handling complex civil claims on behalf of clients throughout southern California, including claims pertaining to fatal car accidents. If you believe another party is directly responsible for a recent accident that took the life of your loved one, you have the right to file a civil claim against them to hold them accountable for the damages they caused to you and your family. If you are ready to discuss the legal options available to you after losing a loved one in a car accident, contact Easton & Easton today for more information about the legal services we offer.