California Car Accident Fatalities Are on the Rise
In recent years, California has witnessed a troubling trend – car accident fatalities are rising. According to the National Transportation Research Nonprofit (TRIP), traffic fatalities increased by 22% from 2019 to 2022. There were about 3,606 traffic deaths in 2019, compared to 4,407 in 2022.
Despite numerous safety measures and campaigns aimed at reducing traffic-related deaths, the number of lives lost on California’s roads continues to exceed the national average. This concerning trend raises questions about the underlying causes and what steps can be taken to reduce traffic fatalities.
Traffic Deaths in California Exceeds National Average
One of the most alarming aspects of the rising car accident fatalities in California is that it consistently surpasses the national average. In 2021, California auto accident fatalities accounted for 4,285 of 42,939 total traffic deaths in the United States. Thus, California accounted for about 10% of the traffic accident fatalities nationwide.
While traffic fatalities are a national concern, California’s numbers have been consistently higher. In 2022, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities in California accounted for 20% of all US traffic fatalities. This is a 19% increase from 2019 to 2022.
In a period where vehicle safety technology is advancing rapidly, and awareness campaigns about the dangers of reckless driving are prevalent, understanding why California’s roadways are becoming increasingly deadly is crucial.
California Car Accident Statistics
To understand the gravity of the situation, let’s break down some California car accident statistics. The fatality rate per 100,000 people ranged from 10.9 in California. There were a total of 4,285 fatal accidents in 2021.
- 1,502 passenger vehicle occupants died in car accidents.
- 1,108 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes.
- 586 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents.
- 124 bicyclists were killed in auto accidents.
The state’s urban areas, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, see a significant proportion of these fatalities. According to the Los Angeles Police Department data, there were 312 traffic fatalities in 2022, a 5% increase from 2021 and an alarming 29% increase from 2020.
Los Angeles streets are particularly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. About 159 people were killed in crashes involving pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers in 2022, which is a 19% increase from 2021.
Statistics show that a substantial number of these accidents involve multiple vehicles and often result in severe injuries or fatalities. While LA County has made efforts to reduce accidents through campaigns like Vision Zero, the numbers continue to rise. Vision Zero is an initiative with the goal to eliminate traffic fatalities on unincorporated County roads by 2035.
Why Have Traffic Fatalities Increased in California?
The increase in traffic fatalities in California is a multifaceted issue, and several factors contribute to this alarming trend.
Excessive speeding remains a significant contributor to fatal accidents. Many drivers exceed posted speed limits, putting themselves and others at risk. Speeding is a factor in 29% of all auto accident fatalities and kills an average of 33 people per day.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents and claimed the lives of 3,522 people in 2021. Texting, calling, or even changing music while driving diverts attention from the road. In a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42% of 6,000 US residents surveyed admitted to taking on the phone while driving. The NHTSA estimates that 9.7% of drivers use some type of cell phone whether hand-held or hands-free during any moment of the day.
Failure to Yield
Disregarding the right of way and failing to yield at intersections or during lane changes leads to collisions that can be fatal.
Disregard for Traffic Laws
When drivers disregard traffic laws and drive recklessly, they put others on the road at great risk. Reckless driving can involve dangerous behaviors like running red lights, making illegal turns, or ignoring stop signs.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a well-known cause of accidents, and despite strict laws and penalties, it remains a problem in California. In 2021, 52% of the drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents, who were tested, tested positive for both legal and illegal drugs. Auto accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers or motorcyclists increased 16% from 2020 to 2021.
Fatigue impairs a driver’s reaction time and decision-making abilities, making them more prone to accidents, especially during long commutes or road trips. The NHTSA estimates that crashes involving drowsy drivers result in nearly 50,000 people injured and 800 deaths each year.
Do I Have a Wrongful Death Claim in California?
The unexpected death of a loved one is devastating, especially when it was preventable. California law allows surviving family members to bring wrongful death claims against the negligent parties liable for the wrongful death. Proving wrongful death in California is necessary to seek justice and compensation for wrongful death damages. To establish a wrongful death claim in California, the following elements must be proven:
- Duty of Care – In a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person. For example, all motorists in California have a duty to follow traffic rules and exercise caution when driving.
- Breach – It must be demonstrated that the defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff. For example, if the defendant ran a red light or was driving impaired, they breached the duty of care.
- Causation – The plaintiff must prove the death was caused, in whole or in part, by the negligence or wrongful act of another party.
- Damages – The plaintiff must show that they have suffered financial losses as a result of the death.
How Can a California Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?
Navigating a wrongful death claim in California can be complex and emotionally taxing, particularly when dealing with the aftermath of a fatal car accident. Hiring an experienced California wrongful death lawyer can provide invaluable assistance. Here’s how they can help:
Strategic Legal Advocacy – Wrongful death attorneys are well-versed in California’s laws pertaining to wrongful death cases. They understand the intricacies of the legal process and can guide you through it.
Thorough Investigation – An effective wrongful death lawsuit requires enough time to conduct a thorough investigation. Wrongful death lawyers will conduct a meticulous investigation of the accident and gather compelling evidence to prove liability. This can include police reports, medical records, witness statements, and expert testimonies.
Deal with the Insurance Companies – Attorneys will negotiate with insurance companies or at-fault parties on your behalf to secure fair compensation. They have experience dealing with insurance adjusters and will protect your rights. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will help you file a wrongful death claim and hold the liable party accountable.
Litigation – If the insurance company is unwilling to offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can represent you in court to recover the compensation you deserve. An experienced wrongful death attorney will prepare a strong case, present compelling evidence, and advocate for your family’s rights before a judge and jury.
Guidance and Support – Dealing with the loss of a loved one is emotionally challenging. A compassionate attorney can provide emotional support and guidance throughout the legal process.
Types of Compensation Available in a California Wrongful Death Case
In California, surviving family members can pursue compensation for a loved one’s death in wrongful death claims. A successful wrongful death claim can result in various types of compensation. These may include:
Economic Damages – These are quantifiable financial losses, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of financial support. Economic damages aim to compensate for the financial impact of the loss.
Non-Economic Damages – Non-economic damages are more subjective and encompass the mental distress and emotional suffering resulting from the death of a loved one. This can include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress.
Survival Action Damages – Apart from wrongful death lawsuits, California also allows for survival action claims. These seek compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased endured before passing away.
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth in California?
The value of a wrongful death lawsuit in California can vary widely depending on several factors. The severity of the accident, the degree of negligence involved, and the strength of the evidence can all impact the potential value of the wrongful death lawsuit. The financial losses incurred by the surviving family, including medical bills, burial expenses, funeral expenses, and lost income, are also key factors in determining the value of the wrongful death lawsuit. It’s essential to consult with a California wrongful death attorney to assess the specific circumstances of your case and determine an estimate of its worth.
Contact an Experienced California Wrongful Death Attorney
If you’ve lost a loved one in a car accident in California, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance from an experienced wrongful death attorney. At Alpha Accident Lawyers, we are dedicated to helping personal injury victims and their families obtain justice. We can help you navigate the complex legal process, establish liability, and pursue the compensation your family deserves.
Our wrongful death attorneys maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted personal injury attorney to ensure that your rights and best interests are protected. Call our award-winning law firm today to schedule a free consultation.
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