San Diego Fatal Car Accident Lawyer
Have you recently lost a loved one in a fatal San Diego car accident? Are you experiencing financial difficulties as a result of your losses? Are you wondering if there is anything you can do to hold the responsible parties accountable? You need a compassionate attorney who can explain your options without pressuring you to decide. You need a lawyer who understands what you are going through and will help you understand the process. You need an attorney who will stand up for your rights.
We are The Levinson Law Group, a Carlsbad car accident law firm with extensive experience working with families who lost a loved one in a motor vehicle collision. At The Levinson Law Group, we only handle car accident claims, meaning we understand exactly what needs to be done to get you on the road to recovery. To learn more about your options, give The Levinson Law Group a call. We accept cases on a contingent fee. That means that if there is no recovery in your case, you pay no fee. And in most cases, we even advance all litigation costs.
California Fatal Car Accident Statistics
California is the most populated state in the nation. Not surprisingly, California also has the most registered vehicles on the road, topping 15 million in 2018. This is almost double the number of registered cars in any other state.
Fatal California car accidents are a leading cause of death in the state. The California Highway Patrol maintains a database of all fatal traffic accidents. According to the most recent data from 2017, there were 3,582 fatal California car accidents, claiming more than 3,900 lives.
The number of fatal car accidents in California is increasing. The number of fatal accidents in 2017 represented a ten-year high and a slight increase from 2016.
Below are the number of fatal California car accidents and the number of lives lost in these accidents by year:
- 1,075 fatal crashes
- 16,060 injury crashes
- 1,053 fatal crashes
- 16,821 injury crashes
- 1,023 fatal crashes
- 17,604 injury crashes
- 1,118 fatal crashes
- 18,987 injury crashes
- 1,167 fatal crashes
- 18,569 injury crashes
Most fatal California car accidents occur during the month of November.
Any car accident presents the risk of serious injury or death; however, certain types of accidents are more likely to cause a fatality. According to the California Highway Patrol, the following are the most dangerous types of accidents:
- Crashing into a stationary object – 915 deaths
- Pedestrian-involved accidents – 891 deaths
- Broadside collisions – 674 deaths
- Head-on collisions – 481 deaths
- Rear-end accidents – 384 deaths
- Rollover accidents – 276 deaths
- Sideswipe collisions – 172 deaths
Seatbelts are known to reduce the risk of death in the event of a serious car accident. However, seat belts will not prevent every fatal injury. About 75 percent of the people killed in California’s fatal traffic accidents were wearing their seatbelt at the time of the accident.
In San Diego County, specifically, drunk and drugged driving is a particularly serious problem. In 2017, there were 84 fatal intoxicated driving accidents in San Diego County alone.
Causes of Fatal San Diego Car Accidents
Accidents do not “just happen”; they are almost always the result of another party’s negligence. While drivers all owe a duty of care to those with whom they share the road, many motorists get comfortable behind the wheel and either forget to follow safe driving behaviors or intentionally put them aside, believing that they are “better than the average driver.”
In reality, even a momentary lapse in judgment can cause a fatal San Diego car accident. Below are some of the most common causes of fatal car accidents.
Over the past decade, the number of fatal car accidents caused by distracted drivers has increased dramatically. Distracted driving occurs whenever a motorist diverts their attention away from the road, even for a split-second. When drivers look away, they miss a pedestrian crossing the street, another driver merging into their lane or a traffic signal. The most frequently observed types of distracted driving include talking or texting on a cell phone, talking with passengers, eating or drinking, using other electronic devices, and daydreaming.
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
Whether they are in a hurry or believe that they are better drivers than most, some motorists think that the traffic rules do not apply to them. These drivers may speed, cut in and out of traffic lanes, cut other vehicles off or tailgate. Each of these behaviors significantly increases the risk of a fatal San Diego car accident.
Drunk and Drugged Driving
Despite decades of education about the dangers of impaired driving, some motorists continue to ignore the fact that drunk and drugged driving is illegal—and incredibly dangerous. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs severely compromises a motorist’s judgment, depth perception and reaction time. While state law prohibits motorists from driving with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more, impairment starts after the first drink. Even if an intoxicated driver does not face criminal charges, they can still be held accountable for a fatal traffic accident through a San Diego wrongful death claim.
In today’s society, people have more on their plates than ever before. Whether it is working two jobs, taking care of children or elderly family members, or going to school while working, these increased obligations often result in a driver being too tired to operate a vehicle safely. However, this rarely stops them from getting behind the wheel. While drowsy driving may not initially seem to present the same dangers as other poor driving habits, recent studies show that fatigued driving compromises a driver’s abilities as much as alcohol impairment. Most notably, drowsy drivers exhibit poor judgment and increased reaction time, which can significantly increase the risk of a fatal San Diego car accident.
Failure to Obey Traffic Signs or Laws
Drivers must follow all posted traffic signs and signals and obey all traffic laws. If a distracted or inexperienced driver runs a stop sign or a red light or fails to yield when necessary, they put everyone else on the road at risk.
Driving is a serious responsibility. However, too often, motorists get comfortable and lower their guard. This is when fatal mistakes can occur. Those who have lost a loved one in a fatal San Diego car accident can hold negligent and irresponsible drivers accountable for the harms they have caused through a California wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is a California Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is akin to a traditional personal injury claim in that the party bringing the claim seeks to hold the at-fault party responsible for their negligent actions. However, because a wrongful death case involves a deceased accident victim, these cases are brought by surviving loved ones instead of the accident victim themselves.
Under California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, the following parties may be able to bring a wrongful death claim:
- Spouses or domestic partners;
- Any other party who is entitled to the accident victim’s property under the state’s intestate laws.
To succeed in a San Diego wrongful death claim, a party must establish that the other party:
- Owed their loved one a duty of care;
- Violated the duty of care, through some action or failure to act; and
- Caused the death of their loved one.
Also, family members must prove that they suffered legally recognizable harm as a result of the other party’s negligence. Typically, this final element is not contested, as the loss of a family member undoubtedly qualifies.
If successful in bringing a San Diego wrongful death claim, family members can recover various forms of compensation related to their loss. In a wrongful death claim, courts allow families to pursue compensatory damages. Compensatory damages provide money damages to family members to put them in the position they were in before the fatal accident. Of course, no amount of money can make up for a lost family member; however, compensatory damages can help families deal with the financial struggles that often stem from losing a loved one.
Compensatory damages consist of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages compensate families for the out-of-pocket expenses they were forced to confront as a result of the accident. For example, the following are types of economic damages:
- The financial support the accident victim would have provided to their family;
- The loss in value of gifts or other benefits the family could have expected from the accident victim, had they lived;
- Funeral and burial expenses; and
- The value of household services the deceased accident victim could reasonably have been expected to provide to their family.
Non-economic damages compensate families for their losses that did not require the expenditure of money. Non-economic damages are harder to ascertain but are equally important. Common examples of non-economic damages available through a San Diego wrongful death claim include:
- Loss of society and companionship;
- Loss of affection;
- Loss of protection;
- Loss of training and guidance;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Loss of moral support.
Unlike other types of personal injury claims, wrongful death cases do not provide for punitive damages or the pain and suffering family members experienced as a result of their loss.
Establishing damages in a San Diego wrongful death claim is a complex endeavor. Family members only get one opportunity to bring a case against the at-fault party, so it is imperative to identify all potentially available damage to ensure that families are fairly compensated for their loss.
How Long Do Families Have to File a San Diego Wrongful Death Claim?
California law imposes a two-year statute of limitations on all wrongful death claims. This means that a claim must be filed within two years of the accident victim’s death. Of course, this may not be two years from the date of the accident if the accident victim later succumbs to their injuries.
While families have up to two years to file a claim, it is a good idea to get started on the process as soon as possible. As time passes, evidence gets more difficult to locate. For example, physical evidence, such as the vehicles involved in the collision, may be destroyed, salvaged, or sold. Also, witnesses who observed the accident may move, change their phone numbers, or forget important details about the accident.
Understandably, the process of filing a San Diego wrongful death claim after the tragic loss of a family member may feel overwhelming. The first step in the recovery process is to reach out to a dedicated car accident lawyer to discuss your case. At The Levinson Law Group, we provide families with a free, no-pressure, no-obligation consultation during which we will answer all your questions and help you understand the recovery process. If you decide to allow us to handle your case, we will immediately get started preparing your claim, allowing you to focus on recovering from your tragic loss.
Reach Out to The Levinson Law Firm to Schedule a Free Consultation Today
If you have recently suffered the tragic loss of a loved one following a fatal San Diego car accident, The Levinson Law Firm can help. We have a long history of providing compassionate yet aggressive representation to families to ensure that they do not suffer financial hardship in addition to what they have already been through. Our team of dedicated San Diego wrongful death lawyers has more than 40 years of combined experience investigating claims, negotiating with insurance companies, and litigating even the most complex and contested cases. We are widely recognized as authorities in South California car accident law and can help you begin the process of moving on after the tragedy that was thrust upon you.
When you work with The Levinson Law Group, you can rest assured that you will have someone in your corner throughout the entire process. We begin by explaining the recovery process in understandable terms and make ourselves available to answer your questions whenever they come up. To learn more about your options, give The Levinson Law Group a call at (760) 827-1700. We accept cases on a contingent fee. That means that if there is no recovery in your case, you pay no fee. And in most cases, we even advance the costs.