You’re walking on the sidewalk enjoying a clear, summer day. You come to an intersection, the crosswalk light turns green, you see that the light for the cars are red, and you begin crossing. A driver doesn’t notice you and attempts to make a right turn going 35 mph, striking you. You use your hand to brace yourself from being knocked over. You, the pedestrian, are injured: your lower back, left leg, and left foot hurt. You call the police to the scene.
The above scenario is a very real pedestrian accident case that Wilshire Law Firm is handling, but it is one of many that are occurring every year. In fact, currently pedestrian accidents are at an all-time high with pedestrians being injured in traffic accidents every seven minutes. It’s important to protect yourself by understanding your rights as a pedestrian and your ability to claim compensation for injuries as the result of a traffic accident.
What are my duties as a driver and as a pedestrian?
It doesn’t take a lot to injure a pedestrian. Compared to drivers who are protected by their car, seatbelt, and airbag, pedestrians are left vulnerable. At 31 mph, a pedestrian’s average risk of injury is 50% while at 39 mph, it increases to a daunting 75%. So, as you can imagine, 35 mph can do some serious damage.
Drivers have a duty to remain vigilant and avoid negligent actions that result in traffic accidents such as:
- Failing to yield to a pedestrian
- Distracted driving
- Not following traffic signs and signals
- Driving carelessly in poor weather conditions
- Driving under the influence
When drivers disregard their duty, accidents like the above scenario occur.
Of course, pedestrians have to walk responsibly too by following signs and crosswalks when available. You may not do either of the following as a pedestrian:
- Suddenly leave the curb and walk or run into the path of a vehicle
- Unnecessarily stop or delay traffic
But, as California Vehicle Code 21950 states, a “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,” thus providing some protection for jaywalkers. In instances where a pedestrian is the at-fault party, shared-negligence is still a strong possibility in a personal injury case. When in doubt, discuss your case with a pedestrian accident lawyer.
What should I do if I have been involved in a pedestrian-automobile accident?
No matter how minor a car accident may be, the police need to be called to the scene.
For noticeable injuries, seek medical attention right away. If immediate medical attention is unnecessary, it is still highly recommended that you schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor after an accident.
While waiting for the police, document everything. Take photos of your injuries, the site of the accident, the car(s) involved, any notable landmarks, etc. If able, write down how the accident occurred in your own words.
Keep conversation between yourself and the driver to a minimum. Finally, you must never admit fault to the police, the driver, your insurance adjuster, and paramedics.
What are your rights to file against the driver?
A pedestrian’s injuries may be covered by their health and disability insurance, but oftentimes this isn’t enough as medical bills begin piling up. You have the right to seek compensation from the driver and their insurance company because you were injured, especially if the accident was caused by a driver’s negligence. Compensation can be obtained through a personal injury lawsuit, but under California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, you must file within two years. Hiring a lawyer to handle your case will increase your chances of obtaining the maximum amount of compensation for your claim.
Like drivers, pedestrians have rights that protect them. It is up to drivers to step up and give the road their full attention, never doubting for a second that a pedestrian could be just around the corner. The moment your attention slips is the moment that someone becomes hurt. Remember: everyone is a pedestrian at some point.
Make sure that your rights are protected and you’re compensated the amount that you deserve by hiring a pedestrian -automobile accident lawyer from Wilshire Law Firm!