Pedestrian accidents in California have been increasing over the last several years. These types of accidents occur between pedestrians and cars, scooters, bicycles, and the like. They can also be pretty devastating accidents in terms of injuries and fatalities.
At Kohn Law Office, Mr. Kohn helps clients successfully file and win pedestrian accident lawsuits. Fill out our online contact form or call us at (760) 721-8182 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
What is a Pedestrian Accident?
A pedestrian accident is a collision involving someone on foot and someone in a vehicle. A vehicle can be a passenger car, a motorcycle, or even a bicycle. In these accidents, it is typically the pedestrian who suffers the most injuries simply because the pedestrian bears the brunt of the impact and has no protection at all.
The Freedom to Walk Act
The new "Freedom to Walk Act" (Assembly Bill No. 2147) took effect in California on January 1st, 2023, officially decriminalized jaywalking. Prior to the bill's passing, jaywalking was punishable by a fine or citation of up to $196 if a pedestrian was caught walking outside of a designated crosswalk or crossing area. Now with the newly passed bill, Californians can jaywalk without the worry of being given a citation or fine by an officer. However, this does not mean that pedestrians can walk into the middle of the road with the expectation that they will not be held liable if an accident occurs.
When jaywalking, pedestrians must exercise due care and make sure that the street is safe to cross before entering the roadway. This means that pedestrians must make sure that there are no present or oncoming vehicles that can pose a hazard to their safety when crossing the street. Police officers are still able to cite pedestrians for jaywalking if they believe that the pedestrian crossing is in a situation where a reasonably careful person would realize that there is an immediate danger of a collision with a vehicle. Drivers of vehicles are also responsible for exercising due care and caution, but if a pedestrian crosses when it's dangerous, they share the liability of any accidents or injuries that occur as a result of their action of crossing unsafely.
Despite the new law decriminalizing jaywalking, it does not mean that pedestrians no longer need to exercise caution. Vehicles are still very powerful pieces of machinery that can cause a lot of pain and suffering to a pedestrian if they are hit. Whether crossing the street safely at a crosswalk or by jaywalking in the street, make sure to exercise caution and due care to avoid an accident with a vehicle.
Who Can Be Sued for a Pedestrian Accident in California?
Generally speaking, anyone at fault for an accident can be sued. The obvious place to start this analysis is the driver or operator of the vehicle involved in your accident. However, there are also other, less obvious entities that could share in the liability.
If an accident was caused by something like a brake failure, the manufacturer of those brakes or a mechanic who negligently maintained the brake system could potentially be held liable. It is also possible for a public or private entity to be held liable if an accident is caused by some dangerous condition like poorly maintained roads or insufficient lighting. When the person at fault caused the accident while working, their employer could be held accountable. Because these cases are not always straightforward, it is important to––at a minimum––speak to a pedestrian accident attorney about your legal options.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in Oceanside
Every accident is unique, and there are as many potential causes of pedestrian accidents as there are drivers on the road. Some of the most common reasons are provided below.
Distracted Driver and Pedestrians
Both drivers and pedestrians have a lot of distractions that can cause them to take their eyes off the road. Common distractions are the same for both: cell phones or other electronics, child, eating
Impaired Drivers and Pedestrians
Impaired driving is much more common than impaired pedestrians, but just the same, being impaired by chemical substances, like alcohol and drugs, can affect safe driving and walking. A driver may sway into another lane or come to a stop too late. A pedestrian may cross the road when they shouldn't. Any kind of impairment can create conditions for an accident.
Both drivers and pedestrians should refrain from recklessness. A driver who speeds, fails to follow traffic rules, or disregards the presence of potential pedestrians can cause a serious accident. Pedestrians, likewise, should not, for example, cross streets without using walkways or when the light is not green for them to cross.
Drivers who are impatient may speed or try to whip around pedestrians who are crossing the street. Pedestrians can also be impatient and, as already mentioned above, may try to cross the street where and when they are not permitted to do so.
Dark Clothes at Night
When pedestrians wear dark clothes at night and are on or near the road, drivers may not be able to see them until it is too late. Even where the road is illuminated by street lamps or traffic lights, seeing a pedestrian at night remains difficult if in dark clothes.
Road construction is a real hazard. Drivers are typically alerted to pay special attention. Pedestrians are often forced to walk around the construction area, and this may mean walking into or close to roadways.
How a road is engineered, designed, or otherwise constructed can make life difficult for both drivers and pedestrians. A pedestrian may not be viewable by a driver around certain bends in the road or on hilly roads. Wet road conditions, rundown roads, and the like can also make it dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians.
Rain, snow, sleet, wind, and more bad weather conditions can make it treacherous to drive and walk on or near roads. Visibility may be affected. Road conditions can get messy and dangerous. Drivers and pedestrians seeking to get out of bad weather may become impatient or reckless in their efforts.
Vehicles parked along the side of the road can block the view of both the pedestrian and the driver. A pedestrian might not be viewable by a driver if they are being blocked by another vehicle. Similarly, a pedestrian might not see an oncoming car if their view is blocked by a parked vehicle.
Common Traffic-Related Pedestrian Injuries
Accidents always have the potential to result in personal injuries, even fatal injuries. Traffic-related pedestrian accidents are particularly vulnerable to severer personal or fatal injuries.
Emergency room analysis indicates the following are some of the top injuries pedestrians sustain when in a traffic-related accident:
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal and back injuries
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Bone fractures
- Contusions and bruising
Children and older adults are most at risk of serious, complicated, and/or fatal injuries. The extent of the injuries is determined by multiple factors, including but not limited to age, gender, location, speed of the vehicle, type of vehicle, and weather conditions.
Compensation for Pedestrian Accident Injuries in California
The central motivation behind awarding monetary damages to pedestrian accident victims is to make them as whole as possible or to restore them to the financial position they were in before the accident. As such, there are a number of different things that a victim might receive compensation for after an accident.
For example, victims with expensive medical bills might receive compensation for the latter as well as for transportation costs to and from the doctor's office. Further, if those injuries prevented the victim from working, the injured party may also be eligible to receive compensation for the wages that they weren't able to earn. These are all known as economic damages, meaning the actual costs of your recovery are compensable.
A victim of a pedestrian accident could also receive monetary damages to compensate for the physical pain and mental or emotional suffering they experience because of their injuries. These compensable damages are known as non-economic because the monetary value requires some calculation and determination.
Why Hire a California Personal Injury Attorney?
After a pedestrian accident, it is important to understand that your insurance company may not always have your best interests in mind. They are businesses first and foremost, which means that their goal is to pay out as little as they are legally obligated to do. It's true of the at-fault party's insurance company, too. In fact, insurance companies notoriously use manipulation and intimidation as ways to reduce or avoid settlements.
To make sure your insurance company or the at-fault party's insurance company settles for a value that makes sense in your unique situation, you likely need a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can help you through the process and act as your advocate, negotiating and arguing on your behalf so that you get what is right and just. Plus, if the insurance company still refuses to pay what is fair, your attorney can take the matter to trial.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Oceanside Today
Hiring a personal injury attorney from Kohn Law Office gives you someone in your corner who has the necessary experience to be able to accurately assess the value of your case and then fight on your behalf for fair compensation. To schedule a free consultation about your accident, contact Russell Kohn either online or by calling (760) 721-8182.