Pedestrian Accidents in California: Your Legal Options
Updated: Apr 26
What to do and who to sue when you get into a pedestrian accident
Accidents involving pedestrians can occur anywhere an individual walks near traffic– parking lots, sidewalks, crosswalks, and other intersections. Since pedestrians are difficult to see in the dark, many pedestrian incidents occur at night. People who are walking do not typically wear reflective or retroreflective clothing like bicyclists, and a driver or motorist who is not paying attention can crash into them, even when said pedestrian is abiding by sidewalk rules.
Why Does It Happen?
There are many causes. Pedestrians will usually have the right of way on sidewalks, except in rare cases. The driver of the car is responsible for yielding to pedestrians who are crossing the street legally.
Pedestrians are all too often hit by reckless, distracted, or drunk drivers who fail to allow the right of way, despite a pedestrian's best attempts to cross at crosswalks and intersections and walk on sidewalks and shoulders.
Here's a couple of scenarios:
The driver wasn't paying enough attention outside of his immediate path
The driver is preoccupied with a smartphone
Flawed crosswalks design that doesn't consider traffic flow and etc.
Motor vehicles and bicycles refusing to give way to pedestrians at crosswalks
Turning without looking both ways at intersections
Ignoring speed limits
Driving under the influence
Pedestrian injuries are much more common in towns than they are in rural areas, but they can also happen on country roads. Winding roads with poor visibility and high speeds provide the ideal conditions for a severe collision.
Is it a Crosswalk Issue?
In certain situations, the driver is not the sole cause of a pedestrian accident. A pedestrian accident can also be caused by the position of the crosswalk and the road design. Pedestrian protection must be considered by those who plan and maintain public crosswalks. If they fail to do so and the crosswalk becomes dangerous, those responsible will be held liable.
Engineering companies and state authorities may become potential defendants in crosswalk position negligence cases. A pedestrian accident lawyer might be able to tell you the complicated details of your case.
Pedestrians who are hit by cars can suffer serious injuries. Since the human body cannot sustain the damage sustained by a collision with a moving vehicle (no matter how relatively small it is compared to other types), pedestrian accidents are often fatal. The effect of thousands of pounds of metal will result in serious injuries, and you might sustain one or more of the following:
Paralysis or other loss of control due to spinal cord injuries
Broken bones or injury to other areas of the musculoskeletal system are examples of orthopedic injuries.
Deep wounds (lacerations) and fractures (contusions), as well as organ damage
Concussions and more serious traumatic brain injury (TBI) or coma (or other head injuries)
Eye injuries and vision loss may occur as a result of dental or facial injuries.
Though drivers are often to blame for pedestrian injuries, they are less likely to be injured as a result of colliding with a pedestrian.
Unfortunately, the innocent pedestrian is the one who suffers the most severe injury in these circumstances. Almost always, there are scratches, scrapes, and bruises. Broken bones, concussions, internal bleeding, and even death are all possible outcomes.
How Can You Avoid It?
Always take the sidewalks. If there isn't one, walk facing the flow of traffic, and keep as much distance between you and the passing cars. This is so you know where the vehicles are going, and you're not suddenly hit from behind.
Pay attention to your surroundings. When walking, stop using electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road. Always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections.
Cross in an illuminated area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a break in traffic that will allow you to cross safely. Never presume that a driver will see you.
Make yourself as conspicuous as possible by wearing bright clothing during the day and reflective fabrics or a flashlight at night.
Keep a close eye out for vehicles driving into or out of driveways, backing up, parking, or navigating parking lots.
While walking, avoid alcohol and sensory-impeding substances because they affect your judgment.
How Can Drivers Avoid It?
Always keep an eye out for pedestrians and note that safety is a common responsibility.
Take extra care and slow down when driving in the dark, bad weather, or other difficult-to-see situations.
Be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise approaching a crosswalk, even if you don't see a pedestrian right away.
Give way for pedestrians in crosswalks. Even when you don't see any, slow down anyway; there may be people crossing the street who are not visible to you.
Never drive when inebriated, intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs.
Stick to posted speed limits, particularly in areas where pedestrians are frequent
Slow down in school zones and neighborhoods where children are present or may be playing in the street
Be extra cautious while driving in reverse as pedestrians may be present
If You Do Get Into an Accident, Here's What You Should Do:
If you've never been in an accident before, you may be unaware of what to do next to protect your legal rights. Making mistakes can jeopardize your ability to recover full compensation for your damages.
However, if you follow the steps below, you should be on the right track:
Get medical as soon as possible. After a pedestrian crash, your welfare should be your top priority. You should seek medical attention as quickly as possible to determine the extent of your injury. You'll even keep track of your injuries. This report could prevent the insurance provider from arguing that your injuries were due to the accident or that they were not as serious as you say.
Listen to your doctor. When a patient follows through with recovery plans, several injuries recover quicker and require less overall care. If you stick to the care plan that your doctor suggests, you'll have a clearer understanding of the past and potential medical costs.
Write down or record everything you remember about the accident. Taking notes can be highly useful. You will benefit from getting a reference that refreshes your mind about the accident's vital aspects if the insurance claim winds up in court two or three years later.
Collect paperwork related to the incident. Create a folder or file where you can store all accident-related papers. Gather hospital bills, receipts, photographs, witness names, and letters or e-mails from the insurance provider.
Obtain a copy of the police accident report. You can request a copy of the crash report from the law enforcement agency that responded to your crash as soon as it becomes available.
Don't consider an insurance bid on your own. Insurance companies are businesses; they will do all they can to spend as little as possible, even on you. Make sure to get a pedestrian accident attorney so you don't accidentally agree to unfair payouts.
Never discuss the case in public or on social media. Making any public statements right now might hurt your case. You can presume that the insurance provider has access to (and reads) anything you write online. Avoid talking about your case or sharing pictures or messages about it. In general, you'll be better off avoiding social media use before your case is fully resolved.
California Law: Do I have a Case?
Personal injury laws in California are clear and straightforward. Understanding the how negligence is defined under California laws can be useful, whether you face a large medical bill after an unfortunate accident or you just need help understanding your options to sue.
If you've been injured on a pedestrian accident, you might not know where to go or start. You may not have an idea when it comes to acquiring fair compensation for your medical bills, lost jobs, disabilities, and other expenses. However, suppose your injuries were caused directly by the negligence of another person or organization, you may might have a personal injury claim that's viable to get you compensated for financial losses.
How Negligence is a Part of Pedestrian Personal Injury Claims
The failure to use caution is the main principle in defining "negligence". To win a personal injury claim, the plaintiff and their pedestrian accident lawyer must prove that the defendant was negligent to a point that it directly caused the the victim damages. It's important to emphasize the duty of care violation and provide a detailed breakdown of all damages suffered as a result of the said breach.
Proving the other parties' responsibility in the claim is one of the most critical aspect of obtaining the most reasonable compensation or payable damages. The majority of pedestrian accidents and personal injury cases will depend on you legal team proving the defendant's negligence.
As you and your pedestrian accident attorney begin to develop your claim, your lawyer can explain and inform you of anything in your case that may be difficult to process. Unpredictable liability/responsibility in cases of multiple defendants is one of these difficulties.
If There's More Than One Defendant
It's not at all unusual for multiple parties to be held responsible for a personal injury claim. While this can make negotiations slightly more difficult and will require more effort gathering evidence, the court is ultimately the one to determine how much each named defendant is responsible for the plaintiff's damages.
Your personal injury lawyer must show that each defendant named in the filed claim is has some partial responsibility. These defendants might be multiple motorists, or an entire company that (for example) built faulty crosswalks. Your lawyer will explain how each defendant in your case will be held accountable for their part in the accident. This is supposing your case goes to trial and the judge finds that the defendants are all guilty or responsible at different levels.
In that case, the defendants are then responsible for the victim's compensation. These multple defendants are likely to negotiate amongst themselves to determine their fault percentages during settlement negotiations.
What Damages Can I Collect?
In California, there are two forms of coverage for personal injury claims: economic and non-economic damages.
The word "economic damages" applies to monetary losses. It's been referred to as "out-of-pocket" expenditures by others. The following are some examples:
Hospital bills for treating the injuries (experts will need to calculate what may be needed for long-term care)
Earning potential has been permanently reduced due to injuries
Rehab and recovery treatments
Non-economic losses are referred to as "more intangible." It has nothing to do with money or quantifiable wealth, but it is likely to have more serious consequences for the person. "Human Losses" is how it's sometimes described.
Disability caused by the injury
Loss of the enjoyment of life
Loss of companionship (such as a spouse or domestic partner)