Common Causes of Car Accidents in California [2024 Updated]

Thousands of car accidents happen yearly on California roads. In hopes of lessening and preventing the rising number of car accidents, it is vital to review their most common causes. If you have been a victim of a car accident, a California car accident lawyer can offer support and insight into how to proceed.

Common Car Accident Causes

With over 250,000 car accidents occurring in California each year, cars have become a major safety issue for many residents. Often, multiple factors can contribute to a single-car accident. From adverse weather conditions or distracted driving, it’s important to understand the root causes behind accidents that contribute to danger on the roads. Common causes are listed below:

  • Distracted Driving: This includes anything that keeps the driver’s primary attention away from the task of driving. Using mobile devices, eating or drinking, engaging in intense conversation, and adjusting the radio are all considered activities that divert a driver’s attention and can lead to an accident.
  • Speeding: Driving at a speed higher than posted speed limits or driving too fast and recklessly for current road conditions will reduce the reaction time and maneuverability with which a driver can respond to threats and changes in traffic. Speeding will increase the risk of an accident and make its consequences more severe.
  • Impaired Driving: Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, or drugs can impair a driver’s coordination, judgment, and reaction time.
  • Weather and Poor Road Conditions: Weather conditions like rain, snow, fog, and ice can affect the quality of the road, creating slippery and reduced visibility conditions. Over time, poor weather can affect the overall surface of a road, and without proper upkeep, this can create potholes and uneven road surfaces.
  • Reckless Driving: Aggressive driving behavior, such as weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, and disregarding traffic signals, can cause serious accidents.
  • Red-Light Running: Most side-impact collisions are caused by disregarding traffic signals and stop signs. Intersection accidents can be devastating.
  • Fatigue: Concentration and reaction time are impaired when a person drives while drowsy or fatigued.

Drivers must be aware of these common causes and practice safe driving habits to reduce the risk of an accident. Unfortunately, accidents can still happen, even when you, as a driver, are driving safely. Other drivers and conditions are out of your control. Following traffic rules, obeying speed limits, and avoiding distractions can contribute to overall road safety.

Post-Accident Protocols

How drivers handle the aftermath of a collision can have an impact on the safety and well-being of all parties involved in the accident. Just as understanding the causes behind accidents that commonly occur can promote safety and responsibility, remaining familiar with how to respond in case of a car accident is just as important. Below are several steps to take after an accident has happened if you are able to do so:

  • Immediate Safety Measures: Ensuring safety in the immediate aftermath of an accident is vital. This can include turning on hazard lights, moving to a safe location, and assessing injuries.
  • Contact Emergency Services: Promptly call emergency services, even if injuries seem minor at first. A quick response time can make a crucial difference and affect the recovery process. Speak to a health care provider and seek treatment, first and foremost.
  • Exchange Information: Share contact information with the involved parties. This can include names, email/phone numbers, insurance information, and vehicle registration. Writing down witness information is also valuable for potential insurance and personal injury claims.
  • Document the Scene: If possible, documentation in the form of photos or written notes can be helpful in the case of a legal proceeding, as well as with insurance claims.
  • Notify Law Enforcement: Report the accident to law enforcement, especially in cases with significant damage, injuries, or disputes. Police reports are often necessary for insurance and personal injury claims.


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

A: In California, the main cause of car accidents is distracted driving, with speeding taking a close second. Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the primary task of driving a vehicle. Common examples include texting or using a cell phone, eating and drinking, adjusting radio controls, grooming, and daydreaming.

Q: What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident in California?

A: The value of a settlement for a car accident depends on the type of injury, medical expenses, lost wages, liability, and damages sustained. Due to the variety of accident types and effects, settlement amounts vary greatly. In California, the average settlement for a car accident is between $14,000 and $28,000.

Q: How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident in California?

A: There is no limit on how much an individual can seek in a car accident claim, although it is common practice to request the amount that covers all legal damages. Legal damages can include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and property damage. The amount of damages will completely depend on the specific circumstances of the crash and will, therefore, be different for every car accident claim.

Q: Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault in California?

A: If you were not at fault for a car accident, hiring a lawyer can still benefit you. Lawyers can pursue compensation on your behalf in order to allow you to focus on your health and move on quickly after a crash. Negotiations with insurance companies can be an overwhelming and difficult task with which lawyers have experience. They can work toward maximizing your final payout.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer From Belgum, Fry & Van Allen

If you have been involved in a car accident and are searching for a lawyer’s assistance, Belgum, Fry & Van Allen is available to help. Our team of California-based car accident lawyers have extensive experience and detailed knowledge of car accident claims. Contact our office for a consultation to learn how we can support you.