California has a sprawling population of 39.56 million residents, thus making it the most populous state in the country. The state has experienced tremendous growth in the past decade, and this growth is set to increase in the coming years. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, this population will reach 50million by 2050. Regrettably, this vast population also means the state registers the highest number of road accidents, injuries, and fatalities per year.
In 2018 alone, injury deaths claimed forty-eight lives for every 100,000 people, and injuries arising from automobile accidents are the leading cause of death in the state. Drunk drivers, speeding, distracted driving, etc. are some of the causes of gruesome road accidents. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm is experienced in litigating personal injury cases and helping clients as you win. We have prepared this guide to educate you on how car accidents occur, the sort of injuries inflicted upon victims, and how we can help your case.
Statistics on Car Accidents in California
Statistica reported there were 3,651 deaths related to car accidents in 2018 alone. Most of these fatalities involved passenger vehicles and trucks, and a small proportion involved motorcycles. Nationwide statistics indicate that 54% of car accidents happen on rural roads, but things are different in the Golden State as 61% of crashes happen within cities.
Going by 2013 data, Los Angeles led the way with 630 accidents followed by San Bernardino (264), Riverside (225), San Diego (201), and Orange (185). Unfortunately, access to life-saving medical response is not always forthcoming in the greater Los Angeles, which means victims die. These disturbing statistics are only getting worse with every new accident report gracing the local news and online sites like the LA Times.
On August 20, a big rig crashed on the 405 Freeway and caused traffic snarl-up that lasted hours. While no injuries were reported, the fuel leak meant closing some lanes for public safety. There are many reasons why these accidents and we discuss in the next section. National crash data shows that most car crashes happen during nighttime and weekends as compared to daytime accidents. Be that as it may, accidents can happen anywhere and at any time so drivers must remain vigilant for the safety of everyone.
What are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents in California?
Despite efforts by law enforcement to prevent road accidents involving vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, these events keep happening and hurting many people. Negligent drivers fail to observe their duty of care and change other people's lives in one split second. Here are the main reasons why traffic accidents occur in Los Angeles and the rest of the state.
- Drunk Driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances is the leading cause of traffic accidents in California. Research indicates that alcohol impairs the brain and triggers drowsiness, impedes vision, delays judgment, and slows reaction time. Law enforcement is keen to thwart drivers from operating vehicles while intoxicated including "zero tolerance" laws. This regulation prohibits people under 21 from driving when their blood alcohol content is 0.01% or more.
The legal BAC for adults is currently at 0.08%, but lawmakers are working on a bill to lower this limit to 0.05%. Many jurisdictions charge drivers with DUI even for physical control of their vehicle, but in California, the culprit must be found operating the car for a DUI charge to stick. If a driver is convicted of a DUI, this charge stays on their record and is factored in during subsequent drunk driving incidents inside ten years.
Despite the harsh sentencing guidelines, the state is still grappling with drunk drivers and the innocent lives they hurt. Adults aren't the only victims of these accidents; children get hurt just as much. This problem is so intense that in 2016, over one million drivers were apprehended for DUIs nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes the costs of dealing with traffic accidents go more than $44 billion per annum, funds which could be diverted elsewhere.
- Driving Above Speed Limits
Drivers should follow the desired speed limits at the city or residential streets and highways. Failure to do so exposes other motorists and road users to grave danger as they can be struck by a speeding vehicle. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety deduces that speed is a significant contributor to car accidents in the state, and such collisions usually have adverse outcomes. The force of two or more vehicles colliding at high speeds is enough to cause fatalities on the spot or at the very least severe injuries.
While most drivers openly disapprove of speeding, there is a notable disconnect between what they believe as right or wrong and what they practice. There are several factors linked to speedy driving on California roads, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Male drivers are more likely to speed than female drivers, and half of the motorists aged 16 to 20 are prone to speeding.
If a speeding driver hits your car, the Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can help you hold them accountable. We work with qualified investigators who will unearth the necessary evidence to prove your case. For instance, the driver could have many speeding tickets on their record, or they may have a long history of contravening traffic laws
- Distracted Driving
Studies have shown that 80% of car accidents occur due to one form of distracted driving or another. There were 3,030 incidences of distracted driving between 2013 and the end of 2017, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds. These cases comprised roughly 9% of all deadly car collisions which claimed 3,285 people in these five years.
Apart from the unimaginable loss of life, distracted driving burdens the economy and harms society in many dimensions. In 2010 alone, the economic losses accumulated to $277 billion and society harm was quantified as $871 billion, research by the NHTSA found. There are many examples of distracted driving, as listed below:
- Using cellphones – roughly 450 people die each year due to phone-related crashes. Texting, speaking on a hands-free device or browsing the web take the mind off the road. Teens and young adults are highly susceptible to this form of distraction.
- Lost in thought – the Fatality Analysis Reporting System at the U.S. DOT deduced that being lost in view is the foremost cause of distraction in fatal crashes. You could be making a grocery list, planning an event, or trying to remember something at work.
- Other occupants – drivers are prone to distractions from fellow passengers such as a crying baby, kids fighting in the back seat, or merely chatting with friends.
- Radio controls – people get distracted when fiddling with radio stations, adjusting the volume, or tuning in to their favorite podcasts, etc.
Whatever the reason may be, taking your eyes off the road for a fleeting moment often leads to adverse outcomes. The driver can miss traffic signals, hurt a pedestrian using the crosswalk, or lose control over their car and run into an oncoming vehicle. Noticing a change in the flow of traffic or an unruly driver cutting you off without suddenly becomes impossible when the driver's attention is elsewhere. This driver can be found liable for causing your injuries, and therefore, they must cater to medical bills and pay restitution.
- Running a Red Light
Drivers are mandated to observe all traffic signals, including stopping at red lights to allow vehicles moving in another direction to enter the intersection. Pedestrians also wait for light signs before using the crosswalk. The left-on-red law will enable drivers to turn left after stopping at a red light if they are emerging from a one-way street entering another one-way street.
Motorists in California can enter an intersection when the light is flashing yellow, but not when it shows red. Running a red light is deemed unlawful and punishable as per the state's vehicle codes. If a reckless driver ran a red light and crashed into your car, you have the right to sue for personal injury, so they cover your bills. If your loved one succumbs to these injuries, we can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit and fight for a sizeable settlement in a court of law.
- Falling Asleep
Sleep deprivation is a huge problem for drivers t, especially those operating trucks and semis ferrying goods over long distances. Many people in this line of work fail to take great care of themselves, and their sleep deprivation becomes a common theme. Fatigue catches up with them over time, and they become drowsy, and boredom takes over as they navigate through deserted stretches of road.
If a driver is drifting from their lane, or hitting the rumble strip on the sides, or missing exits, they could be falling asleep on the wheel. Even if you don't fall asleep, drowsiness undermines your ability to focus and make informed decisions. More so, it delays your reaction time, such as when you need to slam the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle. Sleep-deprived motorists are usually unaware of their surroundings, and this heightens the chance for accidents.
Animals are yet another culprit that can trigger road accidents, especially outside the city. It could be a deer or other wild animal crossing the road suddenly leaving the driver with little reaction time. Insurance companies pay for damages only when the driver has comprehensive insurance, and most drivers don't bother to spend the extra money.
If you crash into a vehicle that was evading a wild or domesticated animal, authorities still need to establish fault and hold the responsible party accountable. As your injury attorney, it is our job to advocate for your interests, so you are not left paying substantial medical bills alone. We shall do everything we can to prove the other driver was negligent, perhaps not reading road signs.
What is the Driver's Duty of Care?
Looking at the examples presented above, the driver will have failed to comply with traffic safety laws, and this exposes them and other motorists to unthinkable catastrophes. The state of California mandates drivers to observe their duty of care and exercise "reasonable care" under specific circumstances that befall them. The latter could be poor weather conditions, a high flow of human traffic, unexpected events, etc.
Refusing to uphold the "duty of care" is deemed as negligence, and the driver can be found liable for the accident. Our team of personal injury attorneys will strive to establish driver negligence so they cannot pin the crash on you thereby escaping penalties. You can trust us to put up a relentless fight until we reach an agreeable settlement with the offending party.
What Injuries Can I Get from Car Accidents?
Car accidents can vary from simple to gruesome collisions that claim people's lives and leave survivors in lousy shape. It is scary to be involved in horrific accidents, and the resulting injuries only make things worse, and they may change your life permanently. In this section, we look at the types of damages people incur in traffic accidents and what they mean for your physical and mental health.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Head injuries are common following a high impact car accident, especially when the other vehicle was speeding, or it is a large vehicle like a big rig. You could suffer from a mild concussion that lasts a few hours to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that could alter your life forever. TBIs often lead to personality changes, memory lapses, diminished ability to control impulses, and physical belligerence.
Emotional problems may ensue, and they will make it hard to forge and nurture relationships at work and in your personal life. You may also find it difficult to trust people again. TBIs manifest in many ways such as feeling dazed and confused, losing consciousness for a few seconds, nausea, loss of balance, etc. Blurred vision and a bad taste in the mouth are sensory manifestations of this injury, and in extreme scenarios, traumatic brain injuries cause death.
You must seek medical attention immediately after an accident even when you presume that everything is fine. Treating this injury will require therapy sessions with a qualified counselor and overcoming these troubles may take a while. Therefore, you must get the necessary financial support throughout treatment, so you don't drain your savings.
- Face and Neck Injuries
Facial injuries and lacerations are yet another negative outcome of car accidents, and they come in varying degrees. You could get minor cuts and bruises that will heal in a matter of days and not leave a noticeable scar. Conversely, the damage can be so intense that you need facial reconstructive surgery. You may be ejected from the vehicle and scrape your face against the pavement, twist your neck, or even break it in the wreckage.
A nasal fracture (broken nose) may ensue due to sudden impact, and the pain is intense not to mention the heavy bleeding. Your nose will appear swollen or crooked, and your nasal passage may be blocked, thus preventing normal breathing. Sometimes, clear fluid may be draining from the nostrils.
You cannot afford to ignore these injuries as they are painful and affect your overall appearance. What's more, you may find it hard to find work in some industries such as beauty, entertainment, or front-office jobs. Cosmetic procedures are expensive, and if your insurance plan doesn't cover them, the co-pays may be too steep for your budget.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that occurs after witnessing or going through a rough ordeal like a car crash. Common signs of PTSD include recurring nightmares, mounting anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, insomnia, and emotional numbness.
Anyone presenting these symptoms needs clinical intervention, so they don't slip into a depressive state. Failure to manage PTSD properly will have ripple effects in many aspects of your life, such as work and family relationships. Do not ignore the signs when they start manifesting; see a qualified psychotherapist for treatment.
Regrettably, these signs may not manifest in the days or weeks following the crash; research shows some patients experience signs even six months after a horrific event. Delayed symptoms often include exhibiting avoidance behaviors and disassociating with reality. Depending on how severe the signs are, and how well – or not – you are responding to treatment, PTSD can stall your life.
- Internal Injuries
Blunt force trauma on specific body parts may lead to internal injuries after the crash, and you may not notice this immediately. Vital organs like the liver, pancreas, kidneys could be damaged, and this usually leads to complicated health issues that are even harder to treat. You will need specialized care over several weeks or months, and the bills will keep piling up if you don't have an excellent insurance plan.
The spinal cord is another sensitive organ that could suffer substantial damage in a car collision, and this could lead to temporary or lifelong paralysis. The latter will necessitate using a wheelchair, and this may prevent you from returning to your usual job. If the internal injuries are severe, you will be out of work for a while, which means your family will not have a steady income until you recover.
- Dental Injuries
The forces of impact like slamming your head on the steering wheel or being struck by a blunt object could lead to broken, chipped, or dislodged teeth. These injuries will affect your smile, interfere with your bite, and missing teeth may cause the adjacent ones to start shifting.
Many insurance covers don't cover restorative procedures such as composite fillings, crowns, and veneers. Paying out of pocket is not feasible for people without savings or at least some disposable income. Our legal practice will help you get a settlement to pay for these costs, so you are not left in financial ruin.
- Torso and Rib Injuries
The torso area will feel the forces of impact and metal parts or other objects could poke your chest cavity. You may end up with a flail chest or collapsed lung, technically known as pneumothorax. The latter condition occurs when the air leaves the lungs and occupies the area between the lungs and chest wall. When air builds up on the outside, the affected lung is unable to expand as required when you breathe.
Mild cases of the collapsed lung can health themselves, but if too much air is exerting pressure, you need emergency treatment to negate further complications. More so, large volumes of trapped air can lead to fatalities if a qualified physician does not treat the collapsed lung. The faulty driver needs to pay your medical bills, so you get the much-required treatment to save your life.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
If you are in a position to seek help, call 911 so emergency responders can be deployed to the accident scene. We strongly urge you to call for help even when you appear in great shape. Contact the police so they can investigate the accident and then request a lawyer.
Document the scene by taking pictures of the accident, note the number plates of the other car, take the driver's insurance information, and speak to eyewitnesses. Social media is ubiquitous in people's lives, and it is not atypical to find people posting images of horrific accidents online. Refrain from this as the other party's attorney may comb through your social media sites and find this sharing distasteful, and this could hurt your case.
Our lawyer will gather more evidence regarding the accident from black box recording, speaking to witnesses, the official accident report, and surveillance footage. This information will support your petition for personal injury against the negligent driver.
Get Help Finding a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Car accidents can happen even when you take necessary precautions when operating a vehicle. Innocent people get hurt all the time or even worse, die from crashes in the state of California. Whether you are struck by a drunk driver, a distracted teenager, or a negligent driver who fails to read signs, you must hold them accountable. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has accumulated a wealth of experience handling these cases and winning significant settlements for clients in your predicament. Contact us today at 619-625-8707 for a free consultation.