What Are the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash in California?
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What Are the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash in California?

What Are the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash in California?

What Are the Odds of Dying in a Car Crash in California?

California is an expansive state, notoriously famous for its busy roads and heavy traffic. Car accidents happen almost every day in California, which may put your and your loved ones’ life at risk. But what are the odds of dying in a car crash in California? Are all car accidents happening in California serious and fatal?

Whether you blame it on congested streets or distracted driving, four-wheeler accidents in California are extremely common and can lead to serious injuries. Yet, the fatality rate in car accidents is relatively low.

As per the statistics, the odds of dying in a car crash in California are 9.1 per 100,000 people per year. While this translates to a very small risk, caution must always be practiced when driving in California as car accidents can lead to serious injuries.

Causes of Car Accidents in California

Some of the most common reasons behind fatal car accidents in California include:

Drunk driving

One of the most common reasons behind motor vehicle deaths is driving under the influence of alcohol. The state records the highest number of fatalities due to impaired driving (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs). California has very strict rules for fatalities caused due to drinking and driving, and the driver is likely to face criminal charges along with a hefty death claim.

Speeding

This is another very common cause of car crashes in California and can lead to fatalities. Accidents due to speeding usually happen on highways, outside densely populated areas, when the driver gets less time and distance to apply breaks and slow down the vehicle. High-speed accidents are extremely dangerous and fatal.

Distracted driving

When driving a four-wheeler, even a small distraction can cost your life. In fact, driving inattentively even for a few seconds could lead to a devastating crash. Some common reasons behind distracted driving include:

  • Texting or talking on a phone when behind the wheel
  • Talking to co-passenger
  • Eating and drinking while driving
  • Pets, people, or objects moving in the vehicle
  • Listening to loud music
  • Getting lost in a thought
  • Navigating with a GPS, and more

Tailgating

Chances of fatal car accidents are also high if you are driving at high speeds in proximity to another car or vehicle.

Road rage 

When driving, it’s common for people to engage in heated arguments with drivers of other vehicles. But if it leads to aggressive driving, the chances of crash increase manifold. If you experience such incidents while driving, speak with our road rage accident attorneys for expert help.

Poor weather

Bad weather like slippery and icy roads causes poor driving conditions and can lead to fatal car accidents.

Not following the rules

When behind the wheels, it is important to follow the traffic rules and driving laws prevalent in the state of California. For example, adhering to speed limits, wearing a seat belt, and more. Any negligence in following driving rules could lead to serious accidents and fatalities.

Fatal Injuries Caused by Car Accidents in California

Car accidents are severe and can cause various catastrophic injuries to the driver as well as other people in the car. While cuts and bruises are common, many injuries sustained during a car accident can turn fatal. These include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal injuries that cause severe bleeding or organ damage

Steps You Must Take After a Fatal Car Accident in California

Accidents can happen to anyone. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for people to understand their rights and the steps they need to take when tragedy strikes.

  • Call 911: The first thing to do after a car crash is to call 911 and report the case. It is important for police to report the case and capture all possible evidence from the location of the accident.
  • Seek immediate medical attention: If there are injuries or casualties, get immediate medical assistance.
  • Exchange information with the driver: Make it a point to exchange information with the at-fault driver, this includes knowing their:
  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Contact numbers
  • License plate and VIN
  • Driver’s license number
  • Insurance information, like the insurance company’s name, policy number, etc.

If it’s a fatal car accident, the officer at the scene will do what is required. The representative of the deceased must make it a point to receive a copy of the report from the police.

  • Identify the witnesses to record their statements: If there are witnesses, make sure to get the details from them like how did the accident happen, who was at fault, and more. Also, note their names and contact information, in case you need them during the court proceedings.
  • Document the scene of the accident: The individuals involved in the accident or their representatives should also click pictures of the accident scene from different angles to document it. It includes taking pictures of:
  • The accident scene
  • The Damage happened to each vehicle
  • Visual obstacles, if any
  • Damage to the property
  • Any other signs that may be relevant to the case
  • Notify the insurance company: The representative should also notify the insurance company about the accident to begin the claim settlement process with the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
  • Seek help from an experienced attorney: With so much to deal with, handling the entire claim settlement process alone can get too overwhelming. That’s why having an experienced attorney by your side can be your best bet. With complete knowledge of the process, your lawyer can help you learn your legal rights and maximize the amount of your compensation.

car crash in CA

California Wrongful Death Laws

California follows a fault-based system to resolve all types of car accident disputes. This means that if the accident has been caused due to the mistake or negligence of another driver, the at-fault driver is bound to pay for the resulting damages. However, the complainant must make a written report of the crash to the California Highway Patrol or the police department within 24 hours. You would also have to report the crash to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days.

If the accident is fatal and has led to the loss of life, the at-fault driver is held responsible for the death and is liable to pay for all associated damages. The plaintiff needs to file a wrongful death claim to hold the other party accountable.

In the case of wrongful death claims, the plaintiff is usually a family member of the deceased. He/ she can seek compensation for the loss of life and expenses immediately preceding their death, such as the cost of medical tests, treatment, funeral, and more. 

Who Can be Held Responsible for a Car Accident Fatality in California?

There could be several reasons behind a car crash. Basis what led to the accident, several defendants can be held responsible. These include:

  • The other car’s driver: In most cases, car accidents occur due to the fault of a driver, and they are financially liable for all the injuries and expenses.
  • The car manufacturer: If the accident occurred due to a manufacturing defect in the car, the car’s manufacturer could be held liable for the fatality. Your attorney needs to prove that a defect in the car led to the accident.
  • You: The car accident could have also happened due to your negligence or the person driving your car. If you share a part of the fault, in California, the Comparative Negligence Rule applies.

California’s Comparative Negligence Rule

California is a “Pure Comparative Negligence” state. This means that if the car accident has happened partly due to your fault, you can claim compensation from the other party. However, the compensation will get reduced by the percentage of your fault.

Wrongful Death Compensation That Can Be Claimed

If a car accident has led to the death of a person, the representative of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim and is entitled to receive several types of damages, including:

  • Economic damages: This includes medical expenses incurred during the treatment of injuries before death, lost income, burial expenses, transportation charges, and more.
  • Non-economic damages: These include compensation for pain, suffering, permanent disabilities, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
  • Punitive damages: The jury might award punitive damages if the accident was caused by the gross negligence of the at-fault driver.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Car Crash in California

If a car accident has lead to the death of a person, the family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver.

However, in California, only certain family members can file a claim for compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. These include:

  • The surviving spouse or partner of the victim
  • The surviving children of the victim
  • The grandchildren, if the victim’s child is deceased

If none of the immediate family members are available, the deceased person’s parents or siblings are entitled to file the lawsuit. In addition, a putative spouse or victim’s stepchildren can also file the claim if they were financially dependent on the victim during the crash.

The Distribution of the Compensation in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

As per California law, all claimants must proceed with the wrongful death claim together, or they can appoint a representative for the suit. Once the claim is awarded, the amount is distributed as mutually agreed by the claimants. However, if a common consensus is not reached, the court can decide the amount to be allocated to each beneficiary. The priority for disbursing funds is:

  • A larger portion is given to the surviving spouse and/ or the children
  • The remaining funds are equally divided among other claimants

Statute of Limitations in California for Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The California law follows a statute of limitation. This means that all wrongful death lawsuits in California must be filed within a certain time. For the car accident death lawsuit, the time is two years. The time starts from the date of the death of the victim and not from the date of the car accident.

In California, the statute of limitation is followed very strictly. This means that if the lawsuit is not filed within the established time frame, the plaintiff loses his/ her right to file the lawsuit and claim any time of damage from the defendant.

How Much Damage Can Be Claimed?

The actual value of the claim depends upon the claim being sought and the injuries sustained by the deceased before passing away. However, the state’s insurance code has made it mandatory for all car owners to cover their vehicles under a minimum of 15/30/5 insurance cover. It helps provide coverage of:

  • $15,000 for the death of one person
  • $30,000 for the death of more than one person
  • $5,000 for property damage

A reputed attorney can help you handle your complex claims and recover the damage caused to you and your family.

Wrongful Death Claim Settlement Timelines

Wrongful death claims involve complex legal proceedings and the exact timeline of the claim settlement process cannot be predicted. It entirely depends on the strength of your evidence and the defendant’s liability. If there is little room to contest, you may be able to settle the case as quickly as possible.

But many times, death lawsuits involve nasty battles, which may take several months to more than a year to resolve. An experienced attorney can help you expedite the process. By strengthening your evidence and fool-proofing your case, your car accident lawyer can help you resolve the wrongful death claim more quickly than you might expect.

Connect With Our Yuba City Car Accident Lawyers for Expert Help

At the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin, we have a team of skilled personal injury lawyers who have extensive experience in handling even the most complex civil claims. With complete knowledge of the process and accidental death suit laws prevailing in California, we can help you recover most compensation for your losses. Connect with us to discuss your legal options today! We offer free consultation and a comprehensive evaluation of your case.

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