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Choosing to walk instead of driving comes with many benefits, including the fact that it is good for both your health and the environment. Unfortunately, pedestrians are also at risk of suffering injuries, or even death, if they encounter a negligent driver. Pedestrians are particularly susceptible to severe injuries and death in an accident given their lack of protection against the size, weight, and speed of a vehicle. “The pedestrian always has the right of way” is a common mantra, but it is important to understand the actual laws governing the rights of pedestrians in California. Both drivers and pedestrians have obligations to protect others on roadways. Read on to learn about the pedestrian right of way laws in California and what to do if you are an innocent pedestrian whom another party’s negligence left injured.
Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. During the last decade, pedestrian fatalities in the United States increased by 53 percent while all other traffic deaths only increased by 2 percent. More than 6,000 pedestrians died due to traffic accidents in the United States in 2018, the most deaths since 1990.On average, a pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes because of a traffic accident. More than 7,500 pedestrian deaths took place when including non-traffic accidents in the total. In addition to these fatalities, approximately 137,000 pedestrians are treated in an emergency department each year. Pedestrian accidents and fatalities are a problem in California. California is one of the five states that saw 47 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2019, even though these states only represent 33 percent of the U.S. population. In just one year alone, 892 pedestrians died in California, up 18 percent four years earlier. More than 14,000 pedestrians were injured in California in one recent year. The pedestrian fatality rate in California is 25 percent higher than the national average, and no state has more pedestrian deaths on its roadways than California.
One of the most common causes of pedestrian fatalities and injuries is motor vehicle accidents. These factors increase the risk that a vehicle will injure or kill a pedestrian:
California is spearheading several efforts to reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries. These strategies include classroom education, community events, presentations, and workshops. Several California cities have set goals through the Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic-related fatalities. Caltrans has also developed pedestrian safety measures at high-risk locations using a pedestrian safety toolbox with 47 countermeasures to enhance pedestrian safety, including signal timing enhancement, intersection and roadway design changes, and new pedestrian signs and markings. The focus on pedestrian safety is not surprising given the continuous increase in pedestrian injuries and fatalities in California. Pedestrians are at high risk of suffering a serious injury in an accident because they lack protection and safety gear, resulting in injuries like:
Be sure to seek immediate medical attention after an accident. In addition to the importance of attending to your health and wellbeing, any delay can provide the defendant with an argument that your delay made your injuries more severe.
While pedestrians often have the right of way, this is not a universal truth. California Vehicle Code 21950 requires a driver to:
The pedestrian is still required to exercise due care for their own safety. A pedestrian may not 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. Pedestrians must also avoid unnecessarily stopping or delaying traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.At first glance, the law’s language may seem straightforward, but there are a few important points to keep in mind:
The law is an important tool in determining who is at fault for your injuries. While not detailed in this particular part of the law, a driver is also required to take a common sense and cautious approach to driving and engage in safe driving practices such as:
Whether the pedestrian and driver complied with the law establishes fault for the accident and any resulting injuries.
To recover compensation for your injuries, you must establish that another party acted intentionally or negligently in a way that caused the accident and your injuries. An experienced attorney can assist you in assessing which party may be at fault for your injuries and gathering evidence to support your case. Parties who might be at fault include:
Identifying the party responsible for your injuries is critical to securing compensation for your injuries. If your injuries were someone else’s fault, that person (or entity) may need to pay for your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, damaged or destroyed property, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. In addition to helping you build a case against the negligent party, a lawyer can work with you to prepare a comprehensive damage demand that will be an important tool as you consider any settlement offers and if your case goes to trial. Many pedestrian accident cases also involve the driver’s insurance company. You should expect the driver or their insurance company to make one or more settlement offers. A settlement provides a faster result and often gets money to the victim more quickly than a trial, but settlement offers often fall far short of the recovery the victim deserves. Be sure to consult with your attorney before accepting any settlement offer.
A lawyer will be an important partner in each step of your pedestrian accident case. The May Firm has a history of securing results for our injured clients. Our award-winning lawyers focus on getting the best outcomes for our clients and we approach each case with compassion and experience. While we cannot guarantee results in any specific case, the May Firm works with each client to understand their unique goals and to create a strategy that is aimed at achieving those goals. The May Firm has more than 22 years of experience, a 99% recovery rate, and collects zero fees unless we recover money on our clients’ behalf. If a pedestrian accident injured you or a loved one, contact The May Firm today at (844) 629-3476 or through our website for a free consultation.
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