California Car Accident Statistics – Traffic Fatalities CA

Douglas D. Shaffer - Personal Injury Lawyer - Manhattan Beach, CA

Thousands of motor vehicle accidents occur throughout the United States each year. While some of these incidents only result in property damage and minor injuries, it’s possible for a car accident to completely change a driver’s life. Unfortunately, it is also possible for a vehicle accident to be fatal, and car accidents continue to be a leading cause of accidental deaths throughout the United States each year.

If you recently lost a loved one in a car accident, an experienced attorney is an invaluable asset for helping your family recover and ensuring liability for the death in question. California is notorious for a high vehicle accident rate, one of the highest fatal accident rates in the country, and the highest rate of uninsured and underinsured drivers. There are many risks facing drivers throughout the state, and it is vital to know the most common causes of a serious and fatal accident to limit your risk of becoming a statistic.

Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in California

Various federal and state-level agencies collect and analyze vehicle accident reports each year, publishing regular updates on the latest trends regarding vehicle accidents and drivers’ biggest risks. According to available accident data, a few of the most common causes of catastrophic and fatal car accidents in the state include:

  • Distraction behind the wheel. Distracted driving consistently causes more accidents throughout the United States than anything else. A few seconds is more than enough time for a distracted driver to cause a devastating collision. However, proving liability in these cases can be difficult without experienced legal counsel advising the victim.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal and highly likely to cause tremendous losses to those involved. A conviction for DUI in California will lead to fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension for the at-fault driver. However, if they cause injury or death, they face heightened penalties.
  • Speeding, which drastically reduces the time a driver has to avoid a crash if traffic suddenly shifts. It’s relatively common to see California drivers exceeding the posted speed limits, but it is always safest to adhere to speed limits on all roads to minimize your chance of incurring liability for an accident.
  • Vehicle defects. The product manufacturer can face liability for a resulting accident whenever a vehicle or part is dangerously defective. A product liability claim is a type of personal injury case requiring proving the defective product directly caused the plaintiff’s claimed damages. Some defective product claims can generate widespread recalls and even class-action lawsuits.
  • Poor visibility, such as driving during severe weather, at night, or in places with very heavy traffic congestion. Drivers are expected to use extra caution whenever driving conditions are less than ideal.

California drivers face many risks every time they drive, and it is not always possible for any driver to accurately predict the actions of others around them. However, knowing the most commonly reported causes of accidents can potentially help you reduce the chance of causing an accident yourself and facing liability for the resulting damages.

Personal Injury Vs. Wrongful Death

If you are hurt in a car accident, your recovery process is likely to entail an auto insurance claim against the at-fault driver and/or a personal injury suit. In addition, if a driver dies in a fatal accident caused by another driver, the surviving family could file a wrongful death claim in place of the personal injury claim the victim could have filed if they had survived.

A personal injury claim is very similar to a wrongful death claim in many respects. However, special rules apply to wrongful death cases, including who may file such claims and the damages available if a plaintiff is successful. In addition, while a personal injury claim aims for compensation for the victim, a wrongful death claim focuses on compensation for the victim’s surviving family.


Q: How Many Traffic Deaths Happened in California This Year?

A: The latest vehicle accident and traffic fatality data are not yet available, but various reports indicate that 2023 is on track to see far more fatal accidents than were recorded in 2021. Last year in California, more than 4,100 people died in fatal vehicle accidents, an increase from 2020. In just the first three months of 2023, more than 1,000 people died in fatal crashes in California.

Q: What State Has the Most Car Accidents?

A: California reported the highest number of fatal accidents in 2021 and is on track to lead the nation again with traffic fatalities in 2023. When it comes to measuring the total number of accidents as opposed to the total number of fatal accidents, statistics can be somewhat misleading due to the fact that California has the largest state population in the country and, therefore, the most drivers, which in turn naturally leads to a larger number of accidents each year.

Q: What Is the Leading Cause of Fatal Car Accidents in California?

A: The most commonly cited causes of fatal car crashes in California include distracted driving, reckless driving, and driving under the influence (DUI). If you are unsure exactly how your recent accident happened, it is crucial to seek legal counsel you can trust from an experienced car accident attorney.

Q: Should I Hire an Attorney After Losing a Loved One in a Fatal Accident?

A: If you recently lost a loved one unexpectedly in a crash another driver caused, your family could pursue a wrongful death action against the responsible driver. A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury case in several ways, but unique state laws apply to this type of case. Therefore, it’s essential to find an attorney experienced in handling California wrongful death claims to have the best chance of success.

Shaffer Law knows how tragic it can be for any family to lose a loved one in an accident. Knowing your loved one’s death resulted from another driver’s negligence or intentional misconduct behind the wheel can add frustration to an already strong mix of emotions. If you need legal counsel after a fatal crash in California, contact Shaffer Law to schedule a consultation with our team.

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About The Author

Douglas D. Shaffer

Douglas D. Shaffer is a seasoned attorney based in California, specializing in personal injury and complex litigation. With an impressive career marked by significant case wins and a strong dedication to his clients, his professional background and expertise are noteworthy. Education: Graduated magna cum laude from Pepperdine Law School; holds a Bachelor of Science from Ohio State University. Experience: Over three decades of legal practice, focusing on catastrophic injury cases. Recognition: Repeatedly recognized as a Super Lawyer; named a top lawyer by US News and World Reports. Community Involvement: Actively contributes to community services and coaches youth sports. Bar Admissions: Admitted to the State Bar of California, U.S. District Court Northern District of California, and U.S. District Court Central District of California since 1984.

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