Common Causes of Car Accidents in Los Angeles

The Most Common Causes of Car Crashes in Los Angeles, CA

causes of car accidents

While the causes of car crashes vary from speeding to distracted driving, the  underlying reasons focus on driver error and intentional acts in most cases. Understanding how these forms of negligence occur can help a motorist avoid injuries in a traffic collision. Since causation is of critical importance in a lawsuit, these acts are an important part of a claim when a negligent driver causes a car accident. 


If you are involved in a crash, protect yourself physically and legally by seeking medical attention and contacting our Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers at the Wilshire Law Firm. Call us 24/7 at 844-341-0008.

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Los Angeles Car Accidents: Statistical Analysis for 2020-2022

Los Angeles is a car-dependent city, and over the past few years in the midst of a pandemic, many traffic accidents and fatalities took place. Despite being home-bound and working remotely, the number of traffic collisions rose since 2019 [1]. In 2020, the following data emerged:

  • Fatalities numbered 294 in Los Angeles in 2021, a 24-percent increase over the previous year [2].
  • Increased numbers of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities occurred since 2020 [3].

Identifying Causes of Car Accidents in Los Angeles

What causes most car accidents? The leading causes of car accidents usually involve some form of negligence. For example, ignoring a duty of care such as obeying speed limits constitutes negligence. Ignoring that duty frequently leads to catastrophic injuries or fatalities. Let’s look at common reasons why car accidents occur. We’ll also examine why you may benefit from consulting a car accident law firm to assist in obtaining the compensation you need. 

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents in Los Angeles. According to the CDC [4], at least nine people die daily due to distracted driving.

Other than cell phone use (see texting and driving below), here are some of the other factors for car accidents caused by distracted driving:

● Eating

● Applying makeup

● Rubbernecking at the sight of a car accident or police stop

● Opening the glove compartment or reaching for an item on the car’s floor

● Checking GPS

● Tuning the radio

● Adjusting climate controls

● Attending to children or animals

● Daydreaming 

Drivers can eliminate this safety challenge by taking care of things before getting on the road. For instance, set the GPS, tune the radio and grab something to eat before leaving. Good planning and focusing on driving can make the road a much safer place.

LEARN MORE: Distracted Driver Accidents

Texting and Driving Accidents

Another activity that is common is texting on a cell phone. But, it is dangerous too. It simultaneously uses physical distraction (typing), visual interference (reading) and cognitive thought (thinking about what you are writing). By doing this, the driver’s attention to driving is essentially void.

Texting while driving is responsible for many Los Angeles traffic collisions[5]. It takes approximately five seconds to write or read a text, taking a driver’s focus off the road. This is the same as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed when traveling at 55 mph.

Speeding Is Responsible for Many Accidents

Speeding is one of the leading causes of car accidents in California [6].Whether it happens because a driver is running late or simply likes the thrill of it, the result can be devastating. Speeding makes injuries worse and leads to fatalities more often than not, according to the Institute for Road Safety Research [7]. In 2020 and 2021, police around the country frequently issued reports of drivers traveling more than 100 mph [8].

Examples of how speeding contributes to accidents: 

  • Failure to stop: A speeding vehicle takes longer to stop due to its greater momentum. This is a common factor in intersection accidents such as red-light running.
  • Pedestrian deaths: The risk of a pedestrian fatality rises as a vehicle’s speed increases. For instance, a vehicle traveling at 20 mph kills pedestrians 5 percent of the time. However, if the car is traveling at 40 mph, the pedestrian has an 80 percent chance of dying [9].
  • Inclement weather: Drivers who speed on a wet or icy surface often lose control of their vehicle. They are more likely to be in a collision with another vehicle or go off the road.
  • Curves: A vehicle traveling around a curve at a higher speed may go into a skid since the tires will not grip the road as they should. This often causes a rollover with subsequent roof crush injuries. There should be signs warning of an upcoming curve as you approach the area. If the warning signs are missing or in disrepair, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the government agency in charge of road maintenance. The deadline for filing this sort of claim is different from others. Your personal injury lawyer will be able to ensure that all documents are filed in a timely manner.
  • Highway collisions: The speed limit on a highway is greater than on urban or rural roads. In 2020, 29 percent of all traffic fatalities involved speeding [10]. it is understandable why highway collisions result in a higher risk of death and injuries. By traveling above highway speeds, the driver reduces reaction time, the distance needed to stop and may lose control of the vehicle. 
  • Head-on collisions: This deadly type of accident is often due to drunk driving. Head-on collisions are frequently fatal because the impact is a combination of the momentum (speed and weight) of both vehicles.

Drunk Driving Accidents and Driving Under The Influence – DUI

Drunk driving is the second most common cause of car crashes. In 2020, drunk driving killed 11,654 people [11]. If a motorist drinks and drives, they will experience cognitive impairment, lessened reflexes, and reduced visual acuity. Driving drunk is responsible for one-third of all accident fatalities [12]. It is best to use a ride-sharing service to arrive home safely.

Driving under the influence of drugs has a similar effect, and it is quickly becoming a prominent reason for traffic accidents. Some legal drugs from OTC to prescription medications are also complicit in causing traffic collisions. Drivers often mistakenly believe that legal drugs are not dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

With driving under the influence of marijuana,  blood tests often detect marijuana in the driver’s blood [13]. There is a correlation between the amount of THC and the ability to safely drive a car. When alcohol is mixed with marijuana, the chance of an accident is greater [14].

LEARN MORE: Drunk Driving Accidents

Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

Many times, drivers take their aggression, anger and disappointment out when they are behind the wheel of a car. When a driver speeds up just as you try to merge or cuts in front of your vehicle without signaling or giving you time to slow down, aggressive driving may be the culprit. In 2021, there were more instances of aggressive driving and road rage than in the previous decade [15], including hit and runs. In some cases, drivers force other motorists off the roadway or use a gun. Fatal shootings due to roadway aggression are becoming more common.

LEARN MORE: 

Ignoring Traffic Signs and Signals

Drivers often take it upon themselves to ignore traffic signs and signals, leading to car crashes. They do this for various reasons such as being late for an appointment, distracted by something other than driving or believing their needs outweigh those of others. The bottom line is that they do not make an effort to drive safely, making them negligent in the eyes of the law.

Accidents caused by a driver running a red light are common in intersections, injuring other motorists and pedestrians. Often, the driver is speeding and cannot stop. The most common accident caused by a driver running a red light is a side-impact collision where the at-fault driver strikes the side of another vehicle legally crossing the intersection. Since the side panels of a vehicle have few safety devices, injuries to the driver and passengers frequently occur. Femur and pelvic fractures are common, and both often require extensive medical and surgical intervention.

Fatigued Driving Accidents

Driving while fatigued causes the motorist to lack the cognitive skills and reflexes that are needed to drive safely. The CDC reports that driving fatigued is similar to being behind the wheel drunk [16]. Although fatigue is a common component of everyday life, when driving, it can lead to fatalities.

Sometimes a fatigued driver will fall asleep for only a few seconds. While fatigued driving may not seem dangerous on crowded California interstates or streets, it could potentially cause fatal accidents. Car-sharing services are beneficial if the driver feels they are too fatigued to drive or pull over and take a short nap.

Road Hazards Result in Traffic Accidents

Another reason for traffic accidents is the presence of road hazards. It is important for highways, urban roads, and rural roadways to remain free of debris, potholes, and other conditions that lend themselves to an accident. When road hazards are present, a serious accident can occur. Since this is often negligent behavior by the government agency in charge of road maintenance, a lawsuit is possible.

In California, it begins with filing the claim with the city/state within six months of the incident. Once received, the government has 45 days to issue a response [17]. If they accept it, damages may be recoverable. If they deny the claim, you have six months to file a lawsuit. If, on the other hand, they do not respond, you have two years to file a lawsuit.

Auto Manufacturer Defects and Car Accidents

On occasion, the reason for car accidents has nothing to do with driver error. Rather, it is the fault of the auto manufacturer and designer of the vehicle or the lack of warnings. Such failures can result in a driver pressing on the brake pedal only to find out it failed, or they are unable to stop due to a tire defect. Seat belt and door latch failures and other defects are also linked to injuries and fatalities. Even car seat defects have been linked to serious injuries and deaths.

The most common auto manufacturer defects that cause accidents or lead to more serious injuries include:

Your car accident attorney can examine the vehicle to see if auto defects are present, and if so, file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. In California, it is unnecessary to prove negligence due to the doctrine of strict liability, which says that the manufacturer is liable for injuries as long as the item remains unmodified and used as intended.

Justice and Compensation When Someone Causes an Accident

After an injury in a car accident, our investigators will look for the cause of the crash. Injured parties have the right to recover damages from the at-fault party. The compensation you receive will typically cover the following areas:

  • Medical Expenses: This category includes all hospital costs associated with your care, such as doctor’s fees, emergency room expenses, and payment for medications, surgeries, X-rays, other diagnostic tests, and rehabilitation. It even covers at-home nursing visits.
  • Lost Wages: Both employees and independent contractors can get lost wage/income compensation. It covers all wages, benefits, job perks, and commissions. Occupational rehabilitation is paid for if the worker can no longer perform the same type of work due to their injuries. Additionally, if their new job pays less than the one they did before the accident, this is part of the damages the injured party receives. Finally, suppose the injured party is permanently unable to work. In that case, the lost wages and other damages will be issued for the period between the accident and the expected time of retirement.

Loss of Enjoyment: If the injury prevents the individual from doing activities they once loved, compensation may be recoverable.

  • Loss of Consortium: A spouse may lose the love and support they once received from the injured or deceased party. If this happens, they may join the lawsuit and file a claim to receive compensation.
  • Pain and Suffering: In addition to the losses above, pain and suffering is part of the compensation an injured party can receive. This covers the ongoing pain, emotional turmoil and psychological suffering the injured party experiences. Pain and suffering can include anxiety, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
  • Punitive Damages: If the actions by the at-fault party were especially egregious, the injured person can ask for punitive damages against the defendant. The amount of these damages is decided by the jury/court and is not considered compensation. Instead, punitive damages are a means of punishing the at-fault party. These damages usually exceed the amount awarded as compensation.

Gathering Evidence and Proving Cause in Car Accident Lawsuits

Evidence is key to winning a case, as is determining the cause. Our investigators use time-valued methods of investigation to gather the evidence we need. Here are some ways we approach car accident injury cases:

  • We investigate the collision to find evidence of liability. Without this proof of negligence, the case will not be viable in the courts.
  • We use accident reconstruction and surveillance camera footage from traffic lights and businesses lining the roadway where the crash occurred to show proof of fault and the causes of car accidents.
  • We interview witnesses who may have seen the crash. Not only that, but many bystanders record video of an accident.
  • We determine the damages our clients suffer to ensure they get the maximum compensation.
  • We represent the client in talks with the insurance company and negotiate on their behalf. We let the insurer know we are not amenable to settling for less than our client deserves and that we will take the case to court if need be.

Contact Wilshire Law as Soon as Possible After an Accident

Call our Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers today at 844-341-0008. We are available 24 hours a day. We can also be reached online to schedule a free case review. Our lawyers put clients first and work tirelessly as they fight for their rights. We evaluate a case carefully and accumulate evidence against the at-fault driver. No stone is left unturned as we work to obtain compensation.

Our car accident law firm in Los Angeles knows the financial loss an accident brings with it and how it makes things complex and difficult for clients. We don’t want you to assume any measure of monetary responsibility. There are no charges when you initially retain us. We work on a contingency basis, so you pay no fees unless you win.

Meet with us for a free case review, and let us evaluate your injury claim, answer your questions and give you your strongest options moving forward.

Frequently Asked Questions About Causes of Car Accidents

  1. What Is The Most Common Cause Of Traffic Crashes? The most common cause of a collision is driver error. Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents in the United States, along with drunk driving.
  2. Why Is Road Rage Increasing? The American Psychological Association reports that road rage correlates with the amount of stress[20] people must deal with in their daily lives. This includes stress from financial upsets and personal as well as work issues.
  3. Are Some Car Accidents Not Caused By Driver Error? Yes. When driver error is not the cause of car crashes, most incidents are due to defective auto parts. The manufacturer is responsible for this and a product liability lawsuit can be filed.