A pedestrian always has the right-of-way. While pedestrians are supposed to use crosswalks, they might sometimes try to cross the road in other areas that are less safe but that does not mean they relinquish their right of way. A motor vehicle can be a deadly weapon when a driver is not operating it properly and with complete and total attentiveness.
Some of the most common reasons why a driver might accidentally strike a pedestrian include:
- Failing to look for pedestrians in the crosswalk during a right turn
- Using their phone to call, text, or email
- Driving while intoxicated
- Reckless driving
- Driving while otherwise distracted
If a driver hits a pedestrian while crossing the road in a crosswalk, the victim can suffer significant injuries such as broken or fractured bones, head trauma, brain injury or permanent damage, nerve damage, spinal cord injury, and potentially permanent injuries as to render the pedestrian to become quadriplegic or paraplegic.
Unfortunately, this type of accident is all too common in the city of Los Angeles, where motor vehicles are everywhere. Crosswalks are not always a safe place to cross from one side of the road to the other, recent studies analyzed some of the most common areas where pedestrians had been victims in accidents and hit and run incidents. Downtown Los Angeles alone contained nearly 50 intersections where pedestrians had been struck at higher than usual rates. Unsurprisingly, there were also determined to be higher than usual pedestrian-related accidents along some of the busiest tourist areas in and around Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.
But no matter how many signs, lights, newly painted crosswalks, and legislation is put into place, the onus is on the drivers of the city of Los Angeles to be more present and attentive of pedestrians walking along curbs and crossing the streets.
Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
In some cases, the pedestrian could be deemed the at-fault party in an accident. Drivers must always be on alert and watching the road to avoid colliding with any other drivers, objects, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and of course, pedestrians. Yet while a car making contact with a human being crossing the street will typically place the liability on the driver, this is not always applicable.
A pedestrian should never step into any roadway or street expecting drivers to immediately step on the brakes to allow that person to proceed. This can be very dangerous for both the pedestrian and the driver who must now stop short to avoid an accident. The following are some of the most common instances in which a driver is typically at fault:
- Ignoring crosswalks
- Ignoring traffic signs and controls
- Failing to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian walking through a crosswalk or crossing an intersection.
- Driving while intoxicated
- Passing a stopped school bus while children are disembarking
- Driving while distracted by a smartphone, a GPS, passengers, or some other distraction that takes the attention from the road
- Disregarding posted speed limit signs
If you have been the victim of a pedestrian accident, the onus is on you to prove that you and other pedestrians in the area were owed a “duty of care” by the driver at the time you were hit. That duty of care covers any and all responsibilities of the driver to operate his or her motor vehicle in a manner consistent with the laws set forth in the California Vehicle Code.
In addition, you must also prove that the driver failed to provide you with that duty of care in his or her actions. This might include demonstrating a clear disregard for traffic laws, driving while distracted, or driving recklessly. Finally, you must prove that your injuries were sustained as a clear and direct result of the driver breaching that duty of care at the time of the accident.
As per the California Vehicle Code, pedestrians have specific rights but they are also bound to follow the rules of the road, so to speak. Pedestrians must cross only in designated crossing areas and crosswalks. They have the right-of-way while crossing in one of these areas regardless of whether there is a green light or no traffic control signal whatsoever.
More importantly, any motor vehicle operator must always yield to any pedestrian who is crossing any roadway properly. If that pedestrian is struck while lawfully crossing in a designated thoroughfare or walkway, the driver involved in the accident could be held liable for negligence and be induced to pay for damages incurred from the collision. These can be physical and emotional injuries, financial losses, and medical costs.
Any driver hitting a pedestrian lawfully crossing through a designated crosswalk is bad enough, leaving the driver liable for all kinds of penalties and resulting damages. But when a driver hits a pedestrian and fails to stop, the accident becomes a criminal matter in which the driver could be charged with a misdemeanor or possibly a felony based on the severity of the injuries sustained by the pedestrian.
The driver involved in the hit-and-run incident will likely depend on his or her insurance company to pay out any costs related to injuries sustained by the pedestrian at the time of the accident. But if the driver does not have an insurance policy, the pedestrian could turn to his or her own insurance company for payments under the uninsured motorist portion of their policy.
Getting the Compensation You Deserve
If you are a pedestrian who has been injured in an accident with the driver of a motor vehicle, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. But you do not want to pursue that compensation on your own. An accident of this magnitude can be catastrophic and life-altering, your injuries could be severe and the bills can start to pile up. You might be ready to jump at the first dollar amount offered to you by an insurance company, unaware that it is far less than what you actually deserve. The insurance company wants to pay out as little as possible, but that won’t be enough to cover what could be a lifetime of injuries, both physical and emotional.
If someone in your family was killed in a pedestrian accident with a motor vehicle, you can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one in the same manner as anyone who was hit by a driver and survived. This can be particularly burdensome if the deceased was the majority wage earner in the household.
Whatever the unfortunate situation may be, you have rights and you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or loss. But in order to get the maximum compensation possible, it is essential that you hire a personal injury attorney who has the knowledge and experience in fighting the insurance companies in pedestrian accidents. Our team of experts has been winning these types of cases for decades with awards totaling in the hundreds of millions collectively. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your pedestrian accident case.