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Pedestrian Laws in California

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A pedestrian accident happens in the U.S. every two hours. According to the Center for Disease Control, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to incur fatal injuries or die when involved in a traffic collision than passengers or drivers of a motor vehicle. Victims who are 65 years of age or older account for 20% of total fatal occurrences, while individuals aged five to 15 experience pedestrian accidents as the number one cause for a deadly motor accident. Additionally, forty-eight percent (48%) of total pedestrian-vehicle collisions involve driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs.

In 2013, 701 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in California. This was the highest number of pedestrian deaths across all states in the country. Today, stricter laws and crosswalk rules are enforced to prevent fatalities and make the streets of California safer for all road users. 

What is a Pedestrian Accident?

Pedestrian accidents occur when a moving vehicle collides with a person on the street. A pedestrian is defined as any individual on foot who is involved in a motor vehicle accident. The said person may be walking, running, sitting, or lying down on the pavement. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to personal injuries and wrongful death, which is why drivers are urged to be more mindful while driving in crowded streets.

What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?

The most common cause of pedestrian accidents is negligent driving. Negligence happens when a driver fails to take the necessary precautions or care required to operate an automobile safely. Aside from negligence, pedestrian-vehicle collisions may also be caused by inattentiveness, driver confusion, and aggressive driving. Such irresponsible practices result in catastrophic events even when people stay within the sidewalk or cross the street while following traffic signals and regulations.

A car crash is not necessary for road accidents to occur. In the case of pedestrian accidents, road users on foot are put at risk when city streets and pedestrian paths are poorly maintained. Sidewalk defects, construction sites, and other forms of debris can make pedestrian-related accidents much more likely to occur. 

California Pedestrian Laws

California pedestrian laws have been updated to protect citizens from getting into accidents on the road. Before recent amendments, people who get hit while crossing the street can actually be blamed for the whole event. The lack of exact rules and regulations gave drivers a trump card they could play to get out of charges. Fortunately, updated California pedestrian laws give people on foot greater rights and provide clearer instructions on what they should do given traffic signals.

California Vehicle Code Section 21950

Section 21950 of the California Vehicle Code stipulates that drivers must give pedestrians the right of way when passing a marked crossway or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. This means that they are entitled to proceed with precedence over other road users when crossing the road with said specifications. However, pedestrians are still expected to be responsible for their own safety and follow traffic rules and regulations.

AB 390

AB 390 makes it legal for people to cross the street when the countdown signal starts, granted that there is an ample amount of time to get to the other side. This law was authored by Governor Jerry Brown in the hopes of eliminating counterintuitive practices on the road and improving overall road safety, as well as put an end to insurance companies shifting the blame to pedestrian accident victims who share none of the responsibility.

Who is Liable in Pedestrian-Vehicle Accidents?

While the person behind the wheel is usually charged with a personal injury lawsuit, pedestrians may also be held liable for an accident under the doctrine of contributory negligence. This legal principle would hold plaintiffs fully or partially accountable for their injuries if they were not able to demonstrate care for their own safety. It is used as a defense in court to bar or minimize pedestrian accident claims

Proving liability in pedestrian-vehicle accidents is crucial in determining how much you get in a settlement. California legislators adhere to the doctrine of comparative negligence which states that when two road users break the law, they are both responsible for the accident and are able to avail claims on a percentage basis. 

Hire a Seasoned Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

If you were a victim of a pedestrian accident, chances are you are entitled to claims to damages. From talking to the party at fault to pursuing a pedestrian accident lawsuit, you should never try to negotiate your claims alone as it will only put you in a disadvantage. You will most likely be faced with insurance companies that will deny your rights or defense lawyers who will do anything to litigate the case. When this happens, you can end up with the bare minimum amount, and that is if you gain access to your claims at all.

Hire an expert pedestrian accident lawyer to get the most out of your claims. At Mesriani Law Group, you’ll find the best personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles. Our legal professionals are masters of their field and will lead your case with knowledge and compassion. Contact our firm today to get a free consultation and avail of our legal services at a No Win No Fee Policy. 

About the Author
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Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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