Car accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury claims in the United States, and these incidents are also one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the country. When an individual dies in a car accident due to the actions of another driver, a wrongful death claim filed by the victim’s family essentially replaces a personal injury claim that the victim could have filed for their injuries had they survived.
Recently, Redlands resident Vanessa Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident on eastbound State Route 210 Freeway. She had been riding as a passenger. There are currently no available details about the driver of the vehicle or the cause of the accident. If it turns out that any kind of negligence contributed to Ms. Gonzalez’s death, her surviving loved ones could have grounds for a wrongful death claim against the party responsible.
Most Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in California
This story is just one example of how car accidents can lead to fatalities and, in turn, generate wrongful death claims. In California, some of the leading causes of fatal car accidents include:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other drugs. Impaired driving is incredibly dangerous for both the driver and their passengers. Alcohol and other drugs can slow reaction times and impair judgment, leading to very dangerous driving conditions for everyone in the vicinity. When an individual causes a fatal car accident due to DUI, they can expect to face civil liability for a wrongful death claim in addition to criminal prosecution.
- Distracted driving can lead to very serious accidents, especially when distractions manifest for drivers traveling at considerable speeds. Texting while driving is illegal in California, and all drivers in the Redlands and throughout the state may not use their phones while driving without the use of hands-free assistive devices. Distractions include anything that causes a driver to take their eyes, hands, and/or attention away from the road ahead.
- Speeding and other moving violations also cause fatal accidents in California. Turn signals, brake lights, and other vehicle features exist to allow drivers to anticipate the actions of other drivers nearby and proceed accordingly. When drivers speed, run stop signs and red lights, weave between lanes of traffic, or change lanes without engaging their turn signals, they commit moving violations that put other drivers at grave risk in some situations.
- Poor visibility can increase the chances of an accident, especially on highways and other fast-moving roads. The chance of a serious accident increases during inclement weather and at night, especially when vehicles do not have properly functioning lights and reflectors.
- Bicycles and pedestrians are especially vulnerable when it comes to accidents in the Redlands. When a motor vehicle driver collides with a pedestrian or bicyclist, the risk of fatal injury is exponentially greater than a typical car accident since a pedestrian or cyclist will have virtually no protection from the force of the crash.
While the cause of Ms. Gonzalez’s fatal crash remains unknown, this list should provide Redlands drivers with some cautionary information that encourages them to drive safely at all times.
What to Expect from a Wrongful Death Claim
The first phase of recovery after a damaging car accident is typically insurance coverage. In a fault-based state like California, the at-fault driver is liable for an injured driver’s damages if their actions cause an accident. In a standard accident, an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may be sufficient to cover the victim’s damages. If the accident resulted in a fatality, it is unlikely that the available insurance coverage will fully compensate for the losses of the victim’s family.
In this situation, the at-fault driver is liable for a wrongful death claim from the victim’s family. A wrongful death claim will follow the same basic steps as a personal injury claim when it comes to determining damages, proving negligence, and collecting compensation. However, there are additional rules for wrongful death claims pertaining to who may file them, the damages available, and the potential scope of available damages.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim in Redlands, CA
If you recently lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another driver, you and your family could have grounds for a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. A Redlands, CA car accident attorney can help you form a solid wrongful death claim so you and your loved ones can recover in peace. Contact Peach & Weathers today to schedule a consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer in the Redlands to better understand your legal options.