As a Los Angeles car accident lawyer for almost 20 years, I have seen many common car crash scenarios and types of injuries sustained in traffic collisions in the City of Los Angeles. I thought I would post some information about these common auto collision claims that I have seen and personally worked with as well as what you can do to protect yourself against having to be responsible for medical expenses, lost income and other consequences of being involved in a car accident in Los Angeles.
A Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer Analysis of the Greater L.A. Transportation Infrastructure and Potential for Auto Accidents
The greater Los Angeles area (or what many call the “Southland”) is comprised of the City and County of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino and Ventura Counties. According to the most recent census, it is the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S. with an estimated combined population of approximately 18 million people. The City of L.A. itself, which is comprised of downtown, south L.A., mid-city, the westside and the San Fernando Valley, is home to approximately 4 million persons. The main mode of transportation remains the automobile and mass transit is still secondary in the region. There are a dozen major freeways that criss-cross the L.A. Basin including the major east west arteries of the 10 freeway (also known as the Crynthia & Erlinger Hjertager Memorial Highway), 60 freeway, and the 210 and the 110 freeways and the major north south thoroughfares of the 5 freeway, the 101 freeway and the 405 freeway. Major arterial streets like Sunset Blvd., Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica Blvd., and Ventura Boulevard connect many thousands of surface streets through neighborhoods from Culver City to Santa Monica to West Hollywood and throughout “the Valley” from areas like Encino and Sherman Oaks to Chatsworth and Northridge. Connecting “the Valley” with “the City” are mainly the 101 the 405 and the 170 along with the various canyon roads like Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Coldwater Canyon Blvd. From downtown L.A. to Long Beach, the surface streets are laid out in a vertical pattern with east-west streets numbered from 1 to 266th Street and north-south streets with names including major arteries like Crenshaw Boulevard and Hawthorn Blvd. connecting municipalities in the South Bay like Torrance, CA. Because most Angelenos travel by car, traffic congestion in Los Angeles is among the worst in the nation. During the peak rush hour periods of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of commuters are traveling the areas freeways and surface streets at any given time.
Traffic Collisions in Greater Los Angeles
It is estimated that there is motor vehicle accident approximately every minute and 30 seconds in the Greater Los Angeles area! While most of these incidents are minor fender benders, major traffic collisions can and do occur on a frequent basis. In fact, according to statistics from various agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Los Angeles County consistently ranks number one in the State of California for both total number of traffic accidents and highest number of fatal traffic collisions. In my experience as a long-term Los Angeles car accident lawyer, I have seen many common scenarios that seem to play out time and time again on our Southland roadways. While some of these are just bad luck mishaps, numerous studies based upon many years of crash data in both the U.S. and elsewhere have concluded that 93 % of traffic collisions are caused by driver error of some type including intoxication or negligence. I would categorize these under freeway accidents and surface street accidents as follows:
LEGAL CAUSE OF THE MOST COMMON FREEWAY TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
- Traveling At An Unsafe Speed: Speed is probably the number one contributor to traffic collisions on L.A. Freeways from my perspective as an Attorney At Law. California Vehicle Code 22350 mandates that all persons travel at a reasonable pace given all roadway conditions including traffic congestion, weather, visibility and the width of the highway and other roadway layout.
- Unsafe Lane Changes: Most freeways in Los Angeles have at least 3-4 or more lanes in both directions of travel. California Vehicle Code 21658 requires drivers to stay traveling within a single lane as much as practicable and only allows lane changes when and if it is safe to move left or right. Failure to check rearview and side mirrors or making hasty decisions to switch lanes can lead to both two vehicle crashes and multiple vehicle piles-ups. This is an especially dangerous and common occurrence between passenger vehicles and trucks on the one hand and smaller vehicles like compacts and motorcycles on the other.
- Following Too Closely: Tailgating is a major cause of freeway rear end collisions. When combined with unsafe speeding, it can be a deadly combination. California Vehicle Code 21703 prohibits following another motor vehicle more closely than is reasonable or prudent given the speed of the cars in front and in back, traffic and other roadway conditions.
- DUI: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (prohibited by CVC 23152) is on the decline but, Los Angeles County consistently has some of the highest numbers of total accidents and fatal accidents caused by persons operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In fact, over the past 10 years, the number of injury-related crashes in L.A. County related to DUI have averaged approximately 5,000 per year and the number of fatal accidents where alcohol or drugs were involved has averaged about 275 annually.
LEGAL CAUSE OF THE MOST COMMON SURFACE STREET CRASHES
- Failure to Stop or Yield the Right of Way At Intersections: In my experience as a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, intersections (whether controlled by lights or stop signs) are the number one place for traffic collisions in the Southland. Major surface street arteries like Wilshire or Ventura Boulevards have 2-3 lanes of travel in either direction at any given point and most L.A. intersections do NOT have left hand arrow turn signals. California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21453 requires all drivers to come to a complete stop and remain stopped when faced with a steady read, circular signal prior to proceeding either straight (on a green) or making a right hand turn and CVC 21452 requires drivers to heed warning of an impending red when facing a yellow traffic light but, many drivers give in to impatience and simply run red lights, gun it through yellow lights turning to red, try to jump the gun when making a left in front of oncoming traffic or fail to stop and yield to pedestrians or bicyclists when making right hand turns.
- Speeding: Traffic collisions caused by unsafe speeds by motor vehicle operators are almost as prevalent on surface roads as they are on L.A. freeways. The same provision of the vehicle code cited above applies in these situations. Often speeding goes hand in hand with running red lights or blowing through stop signs as well.
- Driving Under the Influence: While no one maintains statistics broken down by the type of roadway (highways vs. smaller roads), I can tell you as an attorney that has represented hundreds of injury victims throughout the L.A. basin for many years that fatal and injury accidents seem to occur with as much or more frequency on smaller “neighborhood roads” as on major southland freeways. My theory on this is that people think they can drink alcohol or consume drugs if they only have to drive a little ways to get home. People also feel like the LAPD is less likely to stop them for drunk driving than the California Highway Patrol.
- Distracted Driving: A growing and consistent cause of motor vehicle collisions on our Los Angeles boulevards and avenues is distractions which cause drivers to take their focus off the road and crash. This includes cell phones, GPS devices, radios, driving with headphones, eating behind the wheel, putting on make up in the rear view mirror, turning around to yell at your kids and any number of other distracted driving scenarios. Talking or texting on any mobile electronic device without a hands free feature is prohibited by CA Veh. Code 23123.5 and any other type of distracted driving can be deemed negligence, thereby imposing civil liability for car accidents causing personal injury or death.
Importance of Retaining a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney Experienced with Traffic Collisions in and Around the Southland
Hiring a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, or legal counsel who have had consistent results filing claims and litigating cases throughout Greater Los Angeles is essential to obtaining maximum value on your accident claim. If you live anywhere in Los Angeles County from the Antelope Valley in the North to South L.A. or from the west side the East L.A., the cnces of being involved in a car accident are great no matter how good of a driver you are. Hiring experienced lawyers who know the Los Angeles Superior Court system, regularly appear before judges and try cases in all of the L.A. County Court branches including Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Torrance, Norwalk, Pasadena, Chatsworth, Antelope Valley or Pomona could mean the difference between “settling for what you get” or getting all that you deserve! Call Steven M. Sweat, APC, the zealous legal advocates in L.A. for a free attorney consultation anywhere in Socal at 866-252-0735.
How to obtain a traffic collision report from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD): http://www.lapdonline.org/obtain_a_traffic_collision_report
Title: Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
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Steven M. Sweat, APC
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