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Fatal Car Crashes in California

car accident

In California, fatal car crashes make up a large percentage of the wrongful death lawsuits filed in our state. There are numerous factors, most of them avoidable, that contribute to the causes of fatal car accidents.

If you have suffered a car accident tragedy in your family, be aware that California law provides surviving family members with the right to sue for monetary compensation due to the wrongful death.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Wrongful Death Lawyer. With unfortunate frequency, I get to know clients who have suffered the loss of a beloved family member due to another person’s negligence. While there are other causes of wrongful death, often, the tragic fatality resulted from an avoidable car accident.

In this guide:

Fatal Car Crashes in California

Every year, car accidents account for a large percentage of California’s wrongful death claims.

Here is a closer look at the number of traumatic injuries and deaths caused by California car accidents during 2017, which is the most recent year of statistics available from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), available on the California Highway Patrol (CHP) website:

  • 3,904 people were killed in 3,582 fatal collisions
  • 277,160 people were injured in 193,564 injury-causing crashes
Fatal California Car Crashes Per County 

Here is a sample of the number of fatal car accidents that occurred within various California counties in 2017:

  • Los Angeles: 715
  • San Bernardino: 308
  • Riverside: 283
  • San Diego: 222
  • Orange: 197
  • Sacramento: 157
  • Santa Clara: 111
  • San Joaquin: 105
  • Alameda: 97
  • Stanislaus: 72
  • Contra Costa: 62
  • Placer: 30
  • El Dorado: 24
  • Yolo: 19
  • Yuba: 10

The statistics for traffic fatalities in Sacramento and surrounding counties continue to be significant. Upon viewing these numbers, many drivers and passengers may want to know what type of driver errors often lead to accident fatalities. It is human nature to believe that we can somehow prevent it from happening to a loved one or to us if we know what happened. While this is not always true, let’s look at some of the key factors present in many California car crashes.

Leading Causes of Fatal Vehicle Accidents

Below are some examples of negligent driving behaviors that can lead to serious car accidents.

  • Texting while driving. The National Safety Council estimates that you multiply your chances of being in a serious or fatal accident eight times when you text while driving. Of course, this is just one of many forms of distracted driving.
  • Drunk driving. Roughly 27 Americans a day are killed by drunk drivers. It can be just as dangerous to drive under the influence of any drug - illegal or otherwise - which impairs your judgment or coordination.
  • Speeding. Excessive speed is a top cause of fatal car accidents.  The commonly used phrase “speed kills” is true.
  • Reckless driving. This can include road rage behavior and other intentional acts to disobey traffic laws.
  • Decreased visibility.  This includes driving at night or in bad weather.
  • Running red lights. This negligent act often results in some of the worst car accidents, as they are usually high-speed T-bone crashes.
  • Following too closely.  You must leave an adequate distance between your vehicle and the one in front of it to allow time to react and avoid a rear-end collision.
  • Vehicle manufacturing defects. Defective Takata airbags are an example of a faulty design that has caused consumer deaths.
  • Illegal maneuvers. Too many accidents are also caused by people who make illegal turns or drive the wrong way on streets and highway on-ramps.
  • Inexperienced drivers. Serious errors are often committed by new teen drivers. Everyone can benefit from taking a reputable driver training course to keep their skills honed.
Lawsuits Following a Fatal Car Crash

Watch the YouTube Video.  Several categories of monetary damages may be recoverable in a wrongful death car accident claim. More information on this topic is included in the following video created by AutoAccident.com:

It is important to act quickly following a fatal auto accident.  People or businesses may seek to cover up, minimize, or otherwise try to escape responsibility for the deadly incident. Promptly retaining a skilled wrongful death lawyer will ensure that important evidence is preserved and your family's rights are protected.

A Compassionate Wrongful Death Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento wrongful death attorney. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, my heart goes out to you. Please give me a call at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 to receive compassionate, free, and friendly legal advice. When you call, we will go over the details of your loss and determine how to best proceed. I handle Sacramento wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, which means there are no out-of-pocket costs to you. My fee is taken at the end of the case, after a successful outcome.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our client reviews on AvvoGoogle, and Yelp, and our past cases on our Verdicts and Settlements page.

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"Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!" Alex & Dinah M.
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"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
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"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
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"I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone." Shannon D.
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