Californians know that being a pedestrian is a great form of exercise and eco-friendly transportation. Pedestrians can include anyone who is walking, skateboarding, roller-skating or rollerblading, using a hoverboard, wheelchair, tricycle, or any other similar device that is not a normal bicycle. There are many rights and responsibilities all pedestrians in California should know. Just as pedestrians do not always have the right of way and need to know where they can and cannot go, drivers also have an obligation to be reasonably cautious while operating their vehicles and to keep pedestrians safe. Pedestrians are at a higher risk of severe injury and death when involved in a collision. If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, call our office today for a free consultation.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
With more people walking to get to work and school, for exercise, and to simply enjoy the outside, it is no surprise that being a pedestrian is growing increasingly dangerous. The number of pedestrians seriously injured or killed on California roads has increased over the past decade. The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that 893 pedestrians were killed on California roads in 2018 – a 26 percent increase from 2014. There were also more than 14,000 pedestrians injured in 2018. California’s pedestrian fatality rate is almost 25 percent higher than the national average, which means our roads are some of the most dangerous in the country for pedestrians.
California Pedestrian Laws
There are many laws in California that are meant to protect both pedestrians and drivers from devastating accidents. Pedestrians are inherently at a disadvantage since they do not have the protections a motor vehicle provides to its drivers and passengers. California Vehicle Code Section 29150 states that drivers “shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” Even if the crosswalk is not marked, it is still presumed and a driver must yield to a pedestrian crossing there. Pedestrians do not have the right of way when trying to cross the street outside of a crosswalk; they must yield to vehicle traffic on the road.
California has a “basic speed law” that requires drivers to stay at a speed that is safe for the current conditions on the road, including the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists. California law also states that even though a pedestrian cannot cross the road outside of a crosswalk, drivers still have the responsibility to exercise due care to avoid hitting anyone who steps into the street. Drivers are not allowed to drive on a sidewalk unless there is a specific path the vehicle must take to cross an intersection that includes a sidewalk.
Who Is Liable in a Pedestrian Accident?
Pedestrians can be injured by passenger vehicles, trucks, bicyclists, motorized scooters, and even other pedestrians. The person who hits a pedestrian can be considered liable under the standards similar to those in most other personal injury claims for negligence. As an injured pedestrian, you need to prove three elements to be able to recover financial damages, including:
- The driver or other party owed you a duty of care;
- The driver or other party breached that duty of care because they were negligent; and
- The driver or other party’s negligence caused your injuries.
Every driver on California roads has a duty to be aware of other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Drivers have an obligation to drive carefully, at a safe speed, while following all traffic laws. A driver, or other responsible party, can be considered negligent for speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, driving while distracted, texting and driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or not following other traffic laws that can result in a pedestrian accident.
What To Do If You Are Injured In a Pedestrian Accident
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, the first step to take is to seek immediate medical attention. If you are able to, call emergency services right away. Pedestrian accidents can leave victims with severe injuries that may not be readily apparent moments after a crash. A medical professional should evaluate your injuries and take you to an emergency room if necessary. Sometimes pedestrian accident injuries won’t appear for days to weeks after a collision. Having a medical evaluation right away can help you begin to recover and document your physical condition right after an accident occurs. After calling emergency services, if you are able to, document what happened in the accident. Take photos of the surrounding area, the vehicle that hit you, and take down information from witnesses. Be sure to get the driver’s license and insurance information unless they are unable or unwilling to provide it. The information should also be available to you via a police report. Having this information can go a long way toward protecting your rights if you need to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company and/or file a lawsuit.
If you suffered an injury that requires medical treatment, you can make a claim against the driver’s insurance company for expenses including medical costs, lost wages while recovering at home, and emotional distress, among other damages. The driver’s insurance company may reach out to you and try to get you to settle for a small amount of financial compensation, especially if you have not been evaluated by a medical professional. Do not let them bully you into settling for an amount that does not cover all of your costs – past, present, and future. While an insurance adjuster will say they want to hear “your side of the story,” they really just want you to make a statement saying you are not hurt or that it was your fault. Contact a California pedestrian accident attorney immediately to help navigate the auto insurance claims process and to protect your rights. Then, you can let the insurance company know to speak to your attorney. If the insurance company refuses to pay you a fair amount of compensation for their policyholder’s negligence, your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit.
Pedestrians in California typically have two years to file a personal injury claim after an accident; however, an experienced car accident attorney will usually advise against waiting too long. The sooner you can file your claim, the sooner your lawyer can begin working on your case, and the more evidence they can gather to handle your case more quickly.
California Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
Finding a knowledgeable, trustworthy pedestrian accident attorney in California is essential to winning your case. The team at Curtis Legal Group is here to make sure you are able to recover financial damages. Even if you were partially at fault for the accident, California law uses a comparative fault system, which means liability is allocated on a percentage basis and you can still recover compensation for your injuries.
We know just how traumatic a pedestrian accident can be for you and your family. You can trust Curtis Legal Group to handle your case so you can focus on healing. Many pedestrian accidents are caused by reckless drivers and our legal team will make sure to hold the responsible parties accountable. Contact us to discuss the next steps.