California’s major cities have seen an alarming increase in automobile-related pedestrian accidents and deaths in recent years. Smartphones, speeding, and more cars, trucks, motorcycles, and people sharing the road are contributing factors for this unfortunate spike. As pedestrian accidents increase, so does the need for pedestrian accident lawyers.
Unlike car accidents, pedestrian accidents are almost always catastrophic and are even deadly. Along with devastating injuries, victims have to deal with steep medical bills, lost income, and long recovery periods. And that’s without considering the mental toll that such a serious accident can have. In some cases, pedestrians may also sustain injuries following a bicycle accident or collision with a motorcycle.
While we as drivers have a legal and moral responsibility to avoid injuring and protect pedestrians, most pedestrian accident victims have no idea of what to do in the aftermath of an accident. At Wilshire Law Firm, we want to ensure that you have all the information you need to help you take the right steps towards recovery and resolution. Our California pedestrian accident attorneys are here to discuss your case and help you understand your rights. If another person’s negligence caused the accident and injuries that followed, you deserve compensation.
California Crosswalk Laws and Pedestrian Rules
The state of California has numerous laws in place aimed at protecting pedestrians. These rules dictate where people can legally walk without encroaching on vehicle traffic. According to Vehicle Code 21960, all drivers “shall yield to the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any marked crosswalk at an intersection.”
While this seems straightforward, the additional language in the code can be confusing to some. For example, “no pedestrian may suddenly leave the 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.”
Given the ambiguity of this vehicle code and the chaotic urban landscapes of California’s major metro areas (such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco), it is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny these claims. This is yet another reason why you may benefit from a pedestrian accident attorney if you are injured by a car while crossing at a curb or crosswalk as a pedestrian.
Other important laws about crosswalks and pedestrian rules in California include:
- California Vehicle Code (VC) 467
- VC 275 (defines what a crosswalk is in California)
- VC 21966 (tells pedestrians where they are allowed to walk)
- VC 21950 (covers the laws surrounding when pedestrians cross the road at a crosswalk)
- VC 21955 (requires pedestrians to use crosswalks at all intersections)
- VC 21954 (tells pedestrians crossing the street outside of a crosswalk when they must yield to the right-of-way of vehicles)
- VC 21970 (prevents drivers from stopping in a crosswalk and blocking it from pedestrians)
What Are The Most Common Reasons for Pedestrian Accidents?
There are a handful of factors that may contribute to California pedestrian accidents. The following factors cause most pedestrian accidents:
- Distracted driving: Using mobile phones (texting) and electronic gadgets, talking to passengers, and doing other activities that take the driver’s attention away from the road.
- Alcohol and substance abuse: Driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and drugs is a main cause of traffic accidents.
- Speeding: Driving over the speed limit is another cause of pedestrian accidents.
- Failure to respect pedestrians’ right-of-way: Motor vehicle drivers fail to respect pedestrians’ right-of-way when crossing an intersection. A majority of pedestrians who are killed in traffic accidents get hit at the intersections.
- Failure to signal before turning: Motor vehicle drivers failing to signal when turning is also a common cause of pedestrian accidents. When drivers fail to give signals, pedestrians crossing the road have no warning and could walk right into the vehicle’s path.
- Visibility and Time of Day: Many pedestrian accidents occur at night. Poor visibility and an increase in the number of motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can make for dangerous conditions. On a side note, dawn and dusk also see a spike in accidents as both pedestrians and drivers have to deal with low sun and the accompanying glare.
- Reckless Driving: Speeding, drunk driving, and fatigue all put pedestrians in danger. Studies show that there isn’t much of a difference between a drunk driver’s reflexes and one who is sleepy behind the wheel. On the flip side, impatient and aggressive drivers also pose a threat to pedestrians.
Type of Injuries in California Pedestrian Accidents
From our experience defending victims in the Los Angeles region, injuries following pedestrian accidents are often catastrophic and require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. Often, these victims sustain injuries to their upper extremities because of the nature of the collision. An estimated 38 percent of pedestrians sustain an injury to their head, neck, or face following these types of accidents, and 27 percent suffer an injury to their upper extremities.
The most common injuries in pedestrian accidents are:
- Spinal cord injury, which can lead to paralysis and death
- Brain injury, which can lead to paralysis and death
- Internal organ injuries, which can lead to death
- Torn and sprained ligaments, which are usually non-fatal
- Fractures of the legs, arms, hips, ribs, and pelvis, which are typically non-fatal
- Scalp lacerations, contusions, and abrasions, which are typically non-fatal
- Contusions, abrasions, and lacerations of the face and hands, which are usually non-fatal
Do I Need an Attorney to Resolve a Pedestrian Accident Case?
If you were involved in a car accident as a pedestrian and suffered serious bodily injuries, you deserve compensation. However, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover compensation without proper representation. Because compensation for damages is vital to helping a victim get back on their feet, you should consider hiring a Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer right away.
Here are some of the ways an attorney can help with your pedestrian accident case:
- They can help determine fault and prove liability
- They have the tools and resources to determine monetary damages, which will help ensure you receive the compensation you need and deserve
- They can serve as a mediator with insurance companies
- They can advise you on the appropriate next steps
Compensation in Pedestrian Accident Cases
When it comes to recovering compensation for Los Angeles pedestrian accident cases, one of the most critical factors is proving liability. In most cases, the motorist is to blame when a pedestrian accident occurs.
However, the police will still work to determine how events unfolded and question everyone involved. For example, if there is a discrepancy between whether anyone was on their cell phone, that person’s cell phone records can be subpoenaed to clarify the situation. If the accident occurred in a busy intersection, more than likely, there were witnesses as well. Consulting with a pedestrian accident lawyer can be key to understanding police processes during the investigation phase.
Fault can be harder to determine when there are special circumstances involved, such as:
- Unmarked or poorly marked crosswalks: Sometimes, there are doubts as to whether the pedestrian hit was in a legal crosswalk or not. But keep in mind, even if someone is guilty of jaywalking, that doesn’t give a motorist the right to hit them.
- Construction areas: If a pedestrian has to walk in the street due to construction or a blocked public sidewalk, other entities besides the motorist who hit them may also be held liable for the accident.
Medical bills, police reports, and calls from insurance company adjusters can be overwhelming to deal with, especially if you’ve suffered serious injuries. That’s why it’s crucial to seek an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer who can ensure that you have proper representation for your accident claim as soon as possible.
As the wronged party, you may think you have a slam dunk case and that you don’t need a pedestrian accident attorney. But a lot can go wrong. The motorist who hit you may dispute the sequence of events leading up to the accident and try to pin the blame on you. In addition, the insurance companies involved may try to pay out less than what you feel you deserve and pressure you into accepting their offer. Or you may not be sure what a fair settlement amount should be.
Wilshire Law Firm has helped many pedestrian accident victims obtain justice and the maximum compensation possible over the years. Remember, insurance adjusters typically negotiate settlements for a living. Most pedestrian accident victims do not.
The settlement figure they present you with may sound adequate, but is it really? Does it factor in all lost income? Does it take possible long-term medical care and therapy into account? What seemed like a generous settlement amount for medical bills can quickly become inadequate if those bills pile up due to unforeseen complications or a slower than expected recovery time.
What Happens if you Get Hit in a Crosswalk?
If you were hit by a car or truck as a pedestrian, you need an experienced California pedestrian accident attorney to represent you. These types of cases are often complicated and very stressful for everyone involved. We can help you understand your rights and the best steps to take to ensure you recover compensation for damages and that justice is served. It is only natural to be stunned and shaken by what has happened, but waiting to contact a Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer will only hurt your case. Frankly, not seeking out legal help immediately is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Unlike drivers, pedestrians do not have the protection of metal barriers and safety equipment in a collision. They are vulnerable to serious injury and even death. Unfortunately, children are at a notably higher risk of pedestrian accidents. During the fall and winter seasons, the danger of pedestrian accidents increases because there is less daylight. Pedestrian accidents become more common, and so do pedestrian accident claims, as any pedestrian accident lawyer will tell you.
Pedestrian Accident FAQs
Some of the most frequently asked questions we field about pedestrian accidents in California include:
Should I accept the insurance company’s settlement offer?
No. Often, insurance companies offer settlements that are well-below what the victim deserves. We encourage you to talk to a California pedestrian accident attorney before accepting any settlement offer.
What if I wasn’t in a crosswalk?
When a car hits a pedestrian, it is typically the driver’s fault, regardless of whether the person was in the crosswalk or not. Anytime a pedestrian-car collision happens, you may have the right to take legal action.
Will I have to go to trial?
This will depend on the specifics of your case and those involved. These cases are often settled out of court, but there may be instances where your best option is to go to trial.
Wilshire Law Firm is here to help you and your loved ones after an accident. We’ll handle all the paperwork and deal with the insurance companies so you can concentrate on your recovery and getting your life back in order. We will also schedule medical appointments with top specialists for you. We’ll provide you with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer and support you every step of the way.
Reach out to legal team today. All consultations are free. To find out what the Wilshire Law Firm difference is for yourself, call us at (800) 501-3011. We offer a FREE analysis and thorough review of your case.