Pedestrians should feel safe from the prospect of suffering a serious injury because of another’s negligence. Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area are two of the most walkable areas in the U.S. Unfortunately, pedestrians are at risk for serious injury or death when traveling around the constant barrage of motor vehicles and unkept city walkways and roads.
Traveling as a pedestrian has become increasingly risky in the past decade. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pedestrian fatalities have increased by 46% from 2010 to 2019.
In 2018, over 800 pedestrians were killed on California roadways and more than 14,000 pedestrians were injured. More pedestrians are injured and killed in California than in any other state, and in California’s major cities collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles occurs too frequently.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys help people throughout the Los Angeles Area and San Francisco Bay Area — Oakland, San Jose, Alameda, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara — get financial compensation for injuries they suffered in pedestrian accidents involving:
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Car accidents, truck accident or bus accidents
- Being struck by a Muni, BART or SamTrans public transportation vehicle
- Falls on private property (such as parking lots and stores) or public property
- Falls or being struck by a motor vehicle because of defects in roadways or sidewalks or in crosswalks due to inadequate signage, striping or warnings
What is a Pedestrian?
The California Vehicle Code describes the rights and duties of pedestrians. These laws are critically important in pedestrian accident cases and breaking these laws can impact the amount of compensation legally owed to the injured party.
The first step is to determine if the injured person was a pedestrian or not. California Vehicle Code § 467 provides the framework for what a pedestrian is in California.
Under CVC § 467 a pedestrian is anyone who is walking. A pedestrian can also be anyone riding an assistive mobility device such as wheelchairs or motorized wheelchairs; or a person using a skateboard or non-electric scooter.
Bicycle riders, electric scooters, and other motorized forms of travel are not pedestrians under California law and the rules and duties of those persons are more closely aligned with drivers of motor vehicles.
Liability for a Pedestrian Injury or Wrongful Death
An injured pedestrian seeking compensation for their injuries will have to show that the responsible party was negligent in causing their injuries. In an accident between a vehicle and a pedestrian it is critically important to determine who is at fault for any injuries, damages, or wrongful death. California has numerous pedestrian and right-of-way laws with a primary policy to provide protection to pedestrians. These laws can also be used to show the driver of a vehicle, or other responsible parties, were negligent in causing an injury.
Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws
CVC § 21950 is the primary Right-of-Way law in California which states that, “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” This law requires drivers to slow down and exercise due caution to keep pedestrians safe.
Unfortunately, the law is not completely straightforward, and CVC § 21950 also states, “This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
The conflicting duties presented in California law often pose problems in determining liability and proving negligence. The complexity of the law and high volume of pedestrian accident results in insurance companies regularly denying claims and refusing to pay just compensation for a pedestrian’s injuries.
What is the Basic Speed Law?
CVC § 22350 provides the framework for what is commonly known as the “basic speed law.” This section prohibits those driving motor vehicles from driving faster than what is reasonable in a given circumstance. Under California’s basic speed law a driver must drive at a safe speed that does not endanger the safety of pedestrians. This makes proving fault even more complicated because a pedestrian without the right-of-way can still prove that a driver negligently caused their injuries if the driver was violating California Vehicle Code.
If an accident occurs between a motor vehicle (including a bicycle or electric scooter) and a pedestrian, and the driver is found to be driving unsafe under the circumstances, then they could be found negligent and liable for the resulting damages. Speeding is evidence of negligence which is why it is important to contact an experienced attorney who knows how to gather evidence and prove liability in a pedestrian accident.
Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?
There are dozens of other rules set forth in the California Vehicle Code that provide the framework for where pedestrians can legally be and the duties of both drivers and pedestrians. Local municipalities can even regulate their own streets how they see fit including setting limits on where people can walk, skate, ride electric bikes or scooters and when and where pedestrians can cross the street.
Pedestrians do not always have the right of way, and in cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, the local law sets forth specific guidelines for when a pedestrian has the right-of-way. When a pedestrian is injured, it is important that they prove they had the right-of-way or their compensation can be reduced proportionate to their fault.
Some examples of when pedestrians do not have the right of way include:
- Crossing an intersection with a flashing or steady “DONT WALK” or “WAIT” or Upraised Hand symbol (CVC §21456).
- Pedestrians in the bike lane (CVC §21966).
- When an oncoming vehicle is so close to constitute an immediate hazard (CVC § 21954).
Even though pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way, if a pedestrian violates their duties, it does not mean a motorist is free to hit them without liability for the injuries. Most of the time, if a driver hits a pedestrian, the driver is at fault in some degree, and it is important to seek out an experienced pedestrian attorney to help you get paid for any injuries caused by a negligent party.
Pedestrian Accidents Involving Dangerous Conditions
Premises liability cases involving dangerous sidewalks and roadways are often very challenging. It usually means going after a state, city or local municipality.
Owners of roadways, sidewalks and property have a duty to remedy any defect they are aware of that creates a dangerous condition. When a pedestrian is injured, the attorney must prove that the property owner should have been aware of the defect. The attorney will attempt to prove that someone informed the owner of the dangerous condition, or that the condition existed long enough that the owner should have known.
The dangerous condition must be more than trivial for it to create liability for damages. For example, related factors such as weather, lighting conditions and road usage may also be considered.
How Much Money Can I Get If I Get Hit By A Car?
Compensation for a Pedestrian Accident: Obtaining compensation for a wrongful death and/or injuries caused by a negligent driver, municipality, county, or city should not be a complex battle of law and negotiation. Unfortunately, insurance companies often deny liability and offer settlements well-below what victims deserve for their suffering.
There is no fixed limit on the compensation an injured party can receive for the damages caused to them in an accident. Compensation is determined by examining bills, losses, lost wages and other damages such as:
- Medical Treatment / Medical Bills
- Extent of Injuries
- Future Medical Needs
- Lost Wages
- Decreased Earning Potential
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Loss of Consortium
- Assets of Liable Party
- Insurance Carrier and Coverage
- Punitive Damages
Proving fault is critical in any pedestrian accident case, but it is also important to prove the maximum amount of damages by thoroughly examining how the accident impacted you and your family and determine what you deserve to receive in compensation for your damages.
The value and need for medical treatment is likely to be contested by experts retained by insurance companies, resulting in low-ball values and an uphill battle to obtain reasonable compensation. Experienced personal injury law firms will have medical experts of their own, ready to determine the proper value of your past and future medical treatment and costs.
Contact the Dolan Law Firm for a free case consultation. We will help you determine who is responsible for your damages and can guide you through filing a lawsuit to obtain compensation from the responsible parties.
The trial lawyers of the Dolan Law Firm have a track record of proven results in pedestrian accident cases:
- $4.25 million for lifetime medical care for a young man who suffered a severe head injury after being hit in a crosswalk at a dangerous intersection that the city had failed to properly sign and mark.
- $2 million on behalf of a pedestrian who suffered severe injuries after twisting his ankle in a pothole.
- $1.25 million for the family of a 65-year-old pedestrian hit and killed by a Muni bus in Chinatown.
- $750,000 for the family of a pedestrian hit and killed by a Muni bus.
What Should I do if I Have Been Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?
Prioritize Your Health
Your primary focus following an injury is to get out of the way of any further harm and call 911 as soon as you are safe. If others are nearby, ask them to help and request they call 911.
Seek Medical Attention
It is essential that you seek medical treatment for any injuries you have suffered, even if you do not feel injured immediately after an accident. The symptoms of injuries can take days to appear and failing to seek medical treatment can adversely affect your health and impair your ability to obtain full compensation for any damages caused to you.
When seeking compensation following an accident, the primary source of evidence of injuries are the medical records kept by treating medical professionals. Be sure to report any and all pain, discomfort, stress, anxiety and other damages to a doctor.
If there are any other parties involved be sure to get the name, address, phone number, insurance company, and insurance policy of any other party. The more information you are able to gather the better off you will be moving forward in obtaining compensation for any injuries. If they were driving a vehicle obtain the VIN, license plate number, and auto insurance.
Look around and ask for any witnesses. If there are witnesses then ask them for their contact information and request they give a statement to the police who arrive on scene.
Obtain a Police or Incident Report
Speak to police on the scene or at the hospital as soon as you are capable. Tell the police what happened and ask them for a copy of the incident report. If they cannot give you a copy at the time, then ask them for a receipt of the report you have made and the report number. Get any and all information from the responding officers such as their name, badge number, and agency or office they work for. Obtaining a police report is an important step in obtaining compensation following any injuries.
You should document everything you can at the scene of the accident and your recovery that follows. Seek out an experienced pedestrian lawyer who can help you identify evidence and assist you in preserving it.
Take photos of property damages, and anything involved in the accident. Save any photos, texts, or other messages about the accident. Keep a journal documenting your injuries and recovery process.
If you were injured by a defect in property then be sure to photograph the defect because the city will likely repair it following an injury. If you have an opportunity to collect evidence soon after the injury, it is valuable to document the condition in a way that shows physical characteristics. For example:
- Use a ruler to photograph the dimensions of the defect.
- Get pictures showing the defect from the direction you were walking (your approach). Many defects are not visible to even the most careful pedestrians.
- Immediately put away the shoes you wore at the time of your fall. They may have evidence of oil or other debris on the bottom that can be lost by continued wear. We need to have these examined by an expert. The available traction on the bottom of your shoes at the time of your fall may also be reviewed.
Avoid Speaking to Other Party’s Insurance Company
Following an accident it is likely that insurance companies will get involved and try and make determinations of fault and offer low settlements to be done with any claims you may have. You do not have to provide the other party’s insurance with a statement and we encourage you to talk to an attorney prior to talking to insurance companies.
Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have very limited time to file a claim from the time of the accident. When city and municipalities are involved the time is even shorter. It is important to get in touch with a pedestrian attorney and discuss the merits of your case.
Personal Injury Attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you do not pay anything unless you get compensation for your case and you get a free consultation. A pedestrian accident attorney will help you determine the appropriate actions to take to get compensated for your injuries. Personal Injury Law Firms, like the Dolan Law Firm, can even assist you in getting the medical care you need by linking you up with professionals who work to assist injury victims recover from their loss.
I Have Been Hit by a Bicyclist, Can I Still Obtain Compensation?
As we have discussed above, when a pedestrian accident occurs the primary focus will be determining who is at fault. The bicycle laws and regulations in the Bay Area and Los Angeles create a web of rules that can be used to show the bicycle rider was at fault or the pedestrian was at fault depending on the facts of the case.
Bicyclists generally have to the follow the same rules as motorists, so if you have been hit by a bicycle rider you should seek out an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process of proving fault and obtaining compensations for the injuries you have suffered.
We Have Years of Experience. Contact Our Attorneys With Offices in Oakland, San Francisco, Redondo Beach and Los Angeles
The pedestrian accident lawyers of the Dolan Law Firm are dedicated to getting you the best result possible. We do not charge a fee unless we recover damages so you have nothing to lose by talking with a lawyer about your case. Contact the attorneys at the Dolan Law Firm online or at 888-452-4752.