How are Pedestrian Accidents Handled in California?

by Staff Blogger | July 17th, 2023

California, home to sprawling cities and bustling traffic, has a high rate of pedestrian accidents. From 2020 to 2021, pedestrian fatalities increased by 9.4%, from 1,013 to 1,108. This is largely due to its heavy traffic, urban congestion, and the increasing interaction between vehicles and pedestrians.

Pedestrian deaths are most common at night in urban areas and on roads far from intersections, where vehicles often travel at higher speeds. These incidents are often due to hit-and-run accidents, incidents at crosswalks, and collisions caused by distracted or impaired driving.

Understanding how pedestrian accidents are handled in California and having an attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers on your side can help you protect your rights and receive restitution for your injuries.

Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Pedestrians often suffer life-altering injuries after an accident with a vehicle. Injuries can require surgery, rehabilitation services, and long-term assisted care. 

  • Broken bones: Pedestrians in vehicle accidents can suffer fractures in limbs, hips, and pelvis due to the impact force. This can lead to pain, months-long recovery, and complications, such as permanent disfigurement or disability.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Pedestrians struck by vehicles can experience severe head injuries. TBIs can result in cognitive impairments, memory loss, and negative impacts on relationships and quality of life.
  • Spinal cord damage: Pedestrian accidents can cause spinal cord injuries (SCIs), leading to partial or complete paralysis. SCIs can result in ongoing medical treatment, assistive devices, and major lifestyle adjustments.

Role of Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents

In California, pedestrians have the right of way in most situations. Drivers are expected to exercise caution and yield to pedestrians at marked crosswalks and intersections. If a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the driver is usually deemed at fault.

However, under California’s pure comparative negligence doctrine, all parties may bear some responsibility in an accident. If pedestrians act recklessly or move against traffic signals, they may be partially liable for their injuries, impacting the compensation they receive.

California previously considered jaywalking a citable offense for pedestrians. While the newly passed Freedom to Walk Bill makes it legal for pedestrians to cross outside a marked crosswalk or intersection, it still requires them to use reasonable care.

If you are on your phone when crossing the street, which causes you to ignore traffic and abruptly step out in front of a car, you may be partially responsible for your injuries under pure comparative negligence. In this situation, you could still win compensation, but your percentage of fault will reduce your settlement.

Immediate Actions: What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident

If you are in a pedestrian accident, you can protect your rights by taking action. Receiving medical attention, reporting the incident, and documenting your injuries can provide evidence for your attorney to determine fault and support your compensation claim.

  • Seek immediate medical care: Contact emergency services or visit the nearest hospital immediately after the accident. Even minor injuries can worsen without treatment; seeing a medical provider allows you to receive appropriate care to prevent complications. It also provides documentation of your injuries, such as medical records, diagnoses, prescriptions, and receipts for medical expenses for your claim.
  • Report the incident to police: Contact the local police department to report the accident. Provide them with accurate and detailed information about the incident, including the date, time, and location. This provides an official record of the incident, which you and your attorney can request a copy to use as evidence for your case.
  • Document the incident: Take photographs of the accident scene from different angles, capturing the position of the vehicle involved and the apparent damage. Document your injuries, including cuts, bruises, and any visible marks. Obtain contact information from witnesses who saw the accident and share it with your attorney, who can contact them for an official statement.

The Value of Legal Representation in Pedestrian Accidents

In cases involving accidents between pedestrians and vehicles, the role of a personal injury attorney is crucial. A skilled attorney specializing in pedestrian accident cases can uphold your rights and help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Our California personal injury lawyers have the experience and resources to navigate the state’s pure comparative fault doctrine and prove that a negligent driver is liable for your injuries. We will investigate the accident thoroughly, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies to get you a fair settlement.

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in California, contact our skilled legal team today to schedule a free consultation. We can review your case and help you get started on your claim.