Determining Fault In Pedestrian Accidents In California
According to the most recent statistics, almost 5,000 people die, and another 75,000 are injured in pedestrian accidents each year in the United States. Many of these accidents occur at busy intersections, or when a pedestrian is crossing a busy street or jogging along the roadway.
People who are injured in pedestrian accidents often suffer serious injuries, such as:
- Broken bones;
- Head injuries;
- Back injuries’
- Spinal Cord injuries; and
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
These injuries often require immediate surgery and then an extensive amount of physical therapy before the victim can get around on their own again.
Who’s at Fault for a California Pedestrian Accident?
Fault for a California pedestrian accident is assessed based on negligence. Motorists in California have a legal duty to drive with care for the safety of others when using California roadways. When a motorist breaches this duty of care and someone is injured, they may be found negligent and at fault for any resulting injuries.
California Vehicle Code Section 21950 states, in relevant part, that (a) the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk….; and (c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked … crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.
In addition, California Vehicle Code Section 22350 states that no person shall drive a vehicle
upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.
Although both a driver and an adult pedestrian must use ordinary care, the driver must use greater care because of his greater capacity for causing injury. Cucinella v Weston Biscuit Co. (1954) 42 C2d 71, 80, 265 P2d 513, 519; Arentz v Blackshere (1967) 248 CA2d 638, 640, 56 CR 809, 811; Rubalcaba v Sweeney (1959) 168 CA2d 1, 5, 335 P2d 157, 159.
Moreover, a driver’s violation of a pedestrian’s right-of-way (Vehicle Code §§21950(a), 21951-
21952) gives rise to a presumption of negligence, and an undisputed violation for which the driver gives no adequate explanation is negligence as a matter of law.
Common factors that contribute to driver negligence include:
- Driving under the Influence; and
- Distracted driving
If you were injured as a pedestrian in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence in California, you may seek compensation for your injuries and losses, including but not limited to:
- Medical expenses;
- Past and future lost wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Scarring and disfigurement; and
- Permanent disability
Comparative Negligence in a California Pedestrian Accident Case
In California, pedestrians also have a duty to obey traffic laws and to act reasonably with regard to their own safety, as well as the safety of others. If a pedestrian breaches this duty, and causes an accident, he or she may be found negligent and at-fault for any resulting injuries.
California Vehicle Code Section 21950 states in relevant part that (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of~way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway … within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection (c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any … unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian. (d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle
from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
California Vehicle Code Section 21954 states in relevant part that (b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.
In some cases, both the pedestrian and the motorist involved in a pedestrian accident may be found to have acted negligently, and may each be assessed a percentage of fault. This is referred to as Comparative Negligence.
Examples of pedestrian negligence include:
- Not using a crosswalk;
- Not obeying a traffic signal; and
- Behaving in a negligent or reckless manner on or alongside a roadway
Comparative negligence in a California pedestrian accident case will affect the amount of compensation to which the injured pedestrian is entitled to recover. To be more specific, the amount of compensation the injured pedestrian is entitled to recover will be reduced by their percentage of fault for the accident.
For example, if the pedestrian suffered $100,000 in damages related to the accident, but was assessed 20% at fault, he or she will only be able to recover $80,000 in damages ($100,000 minus their 20% fault).
Consult With An experienced California Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident in California, you may need the assistance of an experienced attorney to recover full compensation for your injuries. It is not uncommon in these types of cases for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to attempt to place some, if not all, of the blame on the injured pedestrian.
The California pedestrian accident attorneys at our law firm know what tactics insurance companies use to minimize or deny pedestrian accident claims, and know how to protect our clients’ rights. Call us today at (562) 901-4664 or visit our contact page to arrange a free case evaluation with an experienced California pedestrian accident lawyer. We will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.
Christopher Montes de Oca is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles. Chris is recognized as a “Super Lawyer Rising Star,” a recognition that only 2.5 percent of lawyers receive, because of the exceptional results he has seen and his dedication to his clients. Chris services clients throughout Los Angeles, including Echo Park, Maywood, Long Beach, Whittier, Glendale, La Mirada, Pico Rivera, Hacienda Heights, and Alhambra. Call him today for a free consultation at (562) 901-4664.