Car accidents are one of the main causes of injuries and deaths throughout the United States each year. These incidents occur for many reasons, and all California drivers need to know the most significant risks they face on the road to hopefully avoid experiencing damaging accidents. Every year, various agencies at the state and federal levels collate accident data and publish reports on their findings. Over the past several years, there has been an upward trend in many areas of the country in terms of car accidents.
California has a notorious reputation for being one of the most dangerous states for drivers in the country. Additionally, California has the highest rate of uninsured and underinsured drivers in the US, and accident rates have climbed steadily. Therefore, all drivers need to know the most common causes of vehicle accidents and what they can do if they experience one.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
It is illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, DUI remains a top cause of vehicle accidents throughout the country. When these accidents happen, the drivers responsible face criminal charges in addition to civil liability for victims’ damages. Depending on the severity of a DUI accident, the intoxicated driver can face felony prosecution and several years behind bars.
Throughout the US, the most commonly reported cause of motor vehicle accidents of all kinds is distracted driving. When drivers do not pay attention to the road, even for a few seconds, they put themselves and others at serious risk. Distracted driving can include using a cell phone behind the wheel, eating while driving, or even something as simple as daydreaming. Therefore, all drivers need to pay close attention to the road, their vehicle, and surrounding traffic as closely as possible while operating their vehicles.
It is illegal and dangerous to exceed posted speed limits in California. When drivers speed, they have far less time and space to react to sudden changes in traffic. They also have less time to react to sudden hazards on the road. As a result, accidents that happen at high speed are more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities.
Every driver has a legal duty of care to follow the rules of the road and obey posted traffic signals. Some of the most commonly reported moving violations that lead to accidents include:
- Running red lights and stop signs.
- Failure to signal before changing lanes or turning.
- Tailgating or following another driver too closely.
- Swerving between lanes of traffic and lane-splitting.
- Failure to yield right-of-way where appropriate.
- Illegal turns and U-turns.
These actions can surprise nearby drivers and make it harder for them to anticipate the actions of other drivers.
What to Do After a Car Accident in California
California law requires drivers to call 911 to report any accident that results in significant property damage, injury, or death. If you are unsure whether you need to report an accident, it is always best to do so just to be safe. This will prevent you from incurring legal penalties for failure to report the accident if you are legally required to do so.
Your first concern after a car accident should be your health and safety. If you are injured, wait for first responders to arrive and administer emergency treatment. If you feel well enough to move around, only do so carefully to not exacerbate your injuries. The police will allow you to leave once they ask a few questions and examine the crash scene. It’s a good idea to take photos of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, and the area around your vehicle if you can. These photos can help with a future insurance claim or personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Q: How Many Car Accidents Happen a Year in California?
A: Every year, tens of thousands of car accidents happen throughout California. However, not all of these accidents result in injuries or fatalities. Most agencies responsible for tracking vehicle accident statistics only record accidents that cause injuries or deaths. California consistently ranks among the top states for yearly accidents resulting in injuries and deaths.
Q: Which State Has the Highest Accident Rate?
A: The state with the highest accident rate as of 2020 was Massachusetts, followed by Maine and Maryland. However, California consistently ranks among the top states for the number of fatal accidents. In 2021, there were 3,246 deaths from car accidents, up from 2,770 in 2020.
Q: How Many Car Accidents Are Fatal in California?
A: There are roughly nine fatalities for every 100,000 vehicle miles driven in California. While this seems relatively low, California has a much higher number of drivers than many other states. Additionally, while the risk of dying in a car accident in California may be statistically low, the state consistently reports more than a million accidents resulting in injuries each year.
Q: How Many People Sue for Car Accidents?
A: Most minor car accidents can be resolved with insurance claims, and there is no need to take the case to court. However, if a car accident results in death or catastrophic injury, the victim’s damages could exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. If you are unsure whether you have grounds to sue after a car accident, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Car accidents can happen virtually anywhere, often without much of a warning. However, if you or a loved one recently experienced a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, Chris and Frank can help you recover. We have successfully represented many Southern California clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims, and we can apply our experience to your situation. If you’re ready to determine your best options for legal recourse after a car accident in California, contact Chris and Frank to schedule a free consultation with our team.