With easy access to transportation services, safe paths for walking, and great weather all year, California is considered one of the most pedestrian-friendly states in the country. Californians who live in high density areas walk almost everywhere including work, restaurants, beaches, and museums. Unfortunately, these areas are where most pedestrian accidents happen. Even with the high volume of pedestrian traffic, drivers still fail to pay attention to those walking on the streets. When a driver hits a pedestrian with their vehicle, the consequences can be catastrophic. Due to the sheer size and weight of a car, the impact on the human body can be deadly.
In California, statistics show that drivers are responsible for more than half of all pedestrian accidents. When a pedestrian gets hit inside a crosswalk, the driver is almost always at fault. Fortunately, California personal injury laws entitle accident victims to file a claim against the responsible party.
What Should You Do If You Are a Pedestrian Hit by a Car?
Getting hit by a car while walking is a very traumatic experience. If you are a pedestrian and was hit by a car, you should:
Get to a Safe Position
Remain calm and if possible, get out of the street and move into a safe location. To avoid further damage, move to the shoulder or sidewalk.
Keep Driver & Witnesses at Scene of Accident
Some drivers may try to leave the accident, but they are legally obligated to stay otherwise they are guilty of a hit and run. Calmly ask the driver to stay at the scene of the accident so you can exchange contact information and provide a statement to the police. If there are any witnesses around, collect their contact information and request that they stay at the scene until the police arrive. Witnesses are an important element of a potential pedestrian accident lawsuit and their statements to law enforcement can significantly impact a case.
Seek Medical Attention & Document Injuries
One of the first and most important things you need to do after getting hit by a motor vehicle is to seek prompt medical attention. If you’re too hurt, ask someone to help and call 911. Even if you don’t feel pain immediately, or think you’ve only sustained minor injuries, don’t brush it off lightly. During an accident, the rush of adrenaline may temporarily hide your pain. Some injuries do not show up immediately but may appear hours, days, or weeks after the accident. Additionally, if you sustained any internal injuries that cannot be seen, a medical professional can provide you with a treatment plan before it gets worse.
Getting medical treatment will not only ensure you get a proper diagnosis, but medical documentation is also essential for any pedestrian accident claim. Medical records are a type of evidence that can successfully prove your case against the driver of the vehicle that struck you. These records will also help protect you against insurance companies who might try to claim that your injuries were not the result of the car accident. Insurance companies have been known to twist a victim’s statements to try and downplay the seriousness of their injuries. To prevent this from happening, make sure you seek medical attention after you’ve been hit so your accident-related injuries can get documented. Additionally, make sure you keep a file of all receipts related to your accident including any medical bills or receipts for medications. If you had to take time off work because of your injuries, document the amount of time you missed work and your lost wages.
If you’re not seriously injured, collect as much information as you can at the accident scene including:
- The full names and contact information of all parties involved
- The driver’s full name, driver’s license information, car license plate, and auto insurance information
- The circumstances of the accident including direction and approximate speed of driver when the collision occurred
- If there were any witnesses, get their contact information
Take photos and videos of the accident scene. If you sustain any visible injuries such as cuts, scrapes, or bruises, take photos of that as well. It’s also important to keep records of medical expenses and time taken off work.
Notify Authorities and Get a Police Report
After getting hit by a motor vehicle, make sure you call law enforcement. A police officer will come to the scene and take a police report about the accident. The officer will speak with all parties involved, interview any witnesses, and write down facts about the accident including a diagram of the accident (location, points of collision, paths of vehicle) which will be included in the police report. In some situations, the report may include the police officer’s preliminary findings about how the accident happened and any other facts that might impact fault determination. If a copy of the police report isn’t provided to you at the scene, ask the officer for the identification number for the police report so you can obtain a copy later.
Do Not Admit Fault
It may be natural to want to apologize after an accident. But apologizing and even saying things like “I’m sorry” can be used against you or be interpreted as an admission of fault. In a California pedestrian accident lawsuit, fault is determined by a jury. And since you don’t know for sure who is responsible for the accident, do not admit fault. Leave that up to the court to decide.
Speak With an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Pedestrian accident victims should contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney after an accident. Insurance companies will likely try to minimize your injuries or try to disprove them completely. Having a skilled pedestrian accident lawyer by your side means you won’t have to worry about dealing with insurance companies. Let your lawyer handle your case while you focus on your recovery.
File an Insurance Claim Quickly
In California, accident victims only have a limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit for their injuries. For a pedestrian accident, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. Failure to meet this deadline and you could lose your right to seek a lawsuit and seek compensation against the responsible driver. It is inadvisable to speak with the insurance company without having legal representation. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney will have a deep understanding of California pedestrian laws that can help ensure you have the strongest case possible against the responsible party. Since insurance companies try to pay out as little as possible, an attorney can fight for you and obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Can I Sue as a Pedestrian That Was Injured in an Accident?
Pedestrians can get hit and knocked down for various reasons including:
- Cars not yielding to a pedestrian
- Bikes on a sidewalk
- Cars on a sidewalk
- Electric scooters (e.g., Bird or Lime)
If you were hit by a car as a pedestrian, you might have a personal injury claim. Injured victims can seek damages for their injuries by filing a personal injury claim.
There are even some circumstances in which a pedestrian can seek damages for being knocked down even if a car was not involved.
- Trip hazards
- Other pedestrians
Even if you aren’t sure who is responsible for the accident, a pedestrian accident lawyer can help identify the responsible party. Generally, victims have the right to obtain damages for various losses including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Who is Liable When a Pedestrian is Hit by a Car?
Under California law, a negligent driver may be held liable for injuring a pedestrian. For example, if a pedestrian gets injured as he or she is walking in a crosswalk, they might be entitled to recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit. To recover damages, the victim or surviving family members must prove negligence on the part of the driver. Proving negligence requires establishing the following elements:
- Duty of care – The driver owed the pedestrian a legal responsibility for their safety and well-being. Generally, all drivers owe a duty to pedestrians (and other drivers and cyclists on the road).
- Breach of duty of care – The driver breached their duty of care through negligence (failed to behave with the same level of care as a reasonable person would in a similar situation).
- Causation – The victim must prove that he or she was hurt because of the driver’s actions. For example, medical records can show a relationship between the accident and the victim’s injuries.
- Damages – The victim suffered losses because of the
Under California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21960, drivers must yield to a pedestrian’s right of way in any marked crosswalk or intersection. However, even if a pedestrian got hit and wasn’t in a crosswalk, a driver could still be responsible for the accident. A driver’s negligence that contributed to the pedestrian’s accident could make him or her liable. Other common examples of a driver’s negligence in a pedestrian accident include:
- Failure to yield
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Failure to completely stop at a stop sign
- Hitting another driver in the break-down lane
- Distracted driving (including texting and driving)
- Failure to give sufficient room for a pedestrian to get into a parked car
Additionally, under CVC 21709, motorists are prohibited from driving in safety zones. These areas are designated for pedestrians and are not intended for vehicle traffic. Anyone found in violation of CVC 21709 will likely be held responsible for a pedestrian accident in that safety zone.
California Right of Way Laws
California has several right of ways laws that protect pedestrians including:
- A pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk – regardless of if it is marked or unmarked.
- A motorist must yield to the right of way of a pedestrian, even if he or she isn’t following traffic laws.
- Unless it’s necessary to cross the street, a motorist is prohibited from driving on a sidewalk.
- A motorist is required to yield to a blind pedestrian using their cane signaling their intention to enter a crosswalk. If they pull their cane back, they are signaling for the driver to proceed.
- A driver is required to stop at least 5 feet from a crosswalk to allow for a pedestrian safely cross.
- A driver is required to slow down and must prepare to stop when they approach an intersection.
Additionally, California state law also requires drivers to consider the presence of pedestrians and cyclists when deciding their driving speed.
What if the Other Party Blames the Pedestrian?
After an accident, the driver may try to blame the pedestrian saying that he or she was at fault because they were not in the crosswalk when they got hit. However, even if that were true (that the pedestrian wasn’t in the crosswalk), this doesn’t automatically mean that the driver isn’t responsible for the accident. The driver’s negligence could have contributed to the accident for various reasons we’ve mentioned before including speeding or driving under the influence.
Each party may automatically try to blame the other after a pedestrian accident. If a driver blames you, never admit fault. Since you don’t know exactly how the accident occurred, you should not accept responsibility. Admitting that you’re responsible for the accident might mean you’d have to pay for your own medical bills and any damages to the other party.
Keep in mind that even if you were partially at fault, California’s comparative fault law allows victims to still recover compensation for their injuries. Under this law, fault is divided among all parties. This means that the victim’s damages will be reduced based on the percentage of negligence that contributed to the accident. For example, if a pedestrian was found to be 25% at fault for an accident, they could still receive compensation, but the total recovery would be reduced by 25%.
What if the Local Municipality Was Partially Liable?
In some cases, a local municipality could be partially responsible for an accident where a pedestrian gets hit by a vehicle in a crosswalk. If this happens, the city might be required to pay a portion of the damages.
While most pedestrian accidents occur between a driver and the pedestrian, there are situations where a local municipality could also be involved including the following situations:
- A malfunctioning stop light or crossing signal showing that both parties have the right of way.
- Proper signs missing from crosswalks warning drivers that pedestrians might be on the road.
- Poorly designed streets; For example, a crosswalk placed in the middle of a sharp curve.
Proving a claim against a municipality can be extremely challenging especially since they generally enjoy some sort of governmental immunity. If you believe a local municipality could be partially responsible for your injuries, speak with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to learn more about your legal options.
What If the Driver in a Pedestrian Accident Commits a Hit and Run?
If you happen to find yourself in a hit and run situation where the driver has fled the scene, it is still possible to obtain compensation for your injuries. Personal injury attorneys and law enforcement have successfully tracked down hit and run drivers– holding them responsible for their actions. At Mesriani Law Firm, we have been able to successfully recover evidence from resources like dashcam footage and security camera footage from nearby businesses. Although it can be more challenging to find a driver who has left the accident scene, it is possible and worth exploring to determine if an at fault party can be found.
Generally, hit and run victims will seek compensation from their health insurance company. For the most part, health insurance will usually pay for your injuries as long as the amount falls within your policy limits. However, keep in mind that even if you accept a settlement from your health insurance, you can still seek compensation from the hit and run driver if and when they are caught. The responsible driver will be held liable and ordered to pay for other damages related to the accident such as property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to the Department of Public Health, data shows that as more people are walking in California, so does the rising number of traffic fatalities.
- From 2007 to 2013, pedestrian fatalities increased to 2 per 100,000 Californian residents; an 11% increase.
- In 2013, there was a total of 32 non-fatal pedestrian injuries per 100,000 California residents.
- Most pedestrian injuries occur between 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm; the least number of injuries occur between 3:00 am and 9:00 am.
- Pedestrians accounted for 21% of all fatal traffic crashes.
- About 33% of children 14 years and younger involved in a traffic-related fatality were pedestrians.
- Pedestrians between the age of 45 and 54 years old who were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident had the highest rate of pedestrian fatality.
- Kern and Humboldt counties had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities while Los Angeles and San Francisco had the highest number of non-fatal pedestrian injuries.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the most common cause of pedestrian accidents involving cars includes:
- Inattentive or distracted drivers
- Failure to yield
- Improper road crossing
- Workers in a road
- Poor visibility
- Being under the influence
- Drowsy drivers
In addition, when we think about a pedestrian accident, we automatically think that it only involves cars. However, there are other common causes of pedestrian knock down accidents including:
- Collisions with people running or jogging on the sidewalk
- Other pedestrians who are not paying attention because they’re on their phones or listens to music
- Dogs that are unleashed or uncontrolled
- Cyclists on the sidewalk
- Skateboarders on the sidewalk
- Groups of pedestrians who refuse to walk on the sidewalk
- Buses or trucks with side mirrors that extend to the sidewalk
- A passenger opening the door of a parked car
- Fights on the street
- Children running inside a restaurant or retail store
- Children playing at a swimming pool
- Jam-packed festival or street fair
Common Injuries Caused in Pedestrian Accidents
Anyone can get injured walking– whether you’re going to work, taking a stroll in the park, or simply walking in a crosswalk. Depending on the accident, victims can sustain minor or serious injuries. At worst, catastrophic injuries can even lead to death. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Brain injury
- Broken bones
- Bruises, cuts, and lacerations
- Face trauma
- Head, neck, or spinal injury
- Internal injuries
If you happened to get injured walking anywhere in California, make sure you seek medical treatment as soon as possible. If left untreated, even a seemingly minor injury could have serious consequences.
Damages Available in a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit
In California, pedestrians hit by cars can sue for compensatory damages. Compensatory damages refer to compensation that an offender must pay to the victim to compensate for their losses. The damages are intended to make the victim whole again by getting them back to the same position as they were before the accident. Damages could include:
- Medical and hospital bills
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Lost wages and earnings
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Pain and suffering
In special cases, a victim might also have the right to sue for punitive damages. To get awarded punitive damages, the injured pedestrian must show that the defendant’s negligent behavior was extreme or outrageous such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What’s the Average Pedestrian Accident Settlement?
Since each accident is unique, there’s no way to know exactly how much your pedestrian accident case could be worth. However, an attorney can calculate a fair settlement amount, so you’ll be able to know if the insurance company is giving you a lowball offer.
What Factors Impact a Pedestrian Accident Settlement?
Generally, a pedestrian accident settlement depends on several factors. The most common ones impacting a settlement when a pedestrian gets hit by a car include:
- The severity of the victim’s injuries
- The length of time it takes the victim to recover
- Whether the injuries are permanent
- Overall health and age of the injured victim
- Level of insurance coverage
- Litigation costs
- The number of responsible parties
- Comparative negligence (negligence level contributed by each responsible party)
- The total amount of your accident-related medical expenses
- The total amount of your wages including any lost wages
Additionally, victims often suffer from mental and emotional trauma after getting into a car accident. An attorney can also include these factors into the total settlement amount.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents
Although drivers have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road, pedestrians should also do their part to stay safe. Below are safety tips to help prevent an accident:
- Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing at night. If necessary, bring a flashlight. Make yourself as visible to drivers as possible.
- Don’t engage in unsafe behavior such as jaywalking; always use the crosswalk and make eye contact with drivers so they can acknowledge your presence.
- Pay attention and avoid being distracted while walking. Don’t text or talk on your phone while walking.
- Look before you cross the street and obey all traffic signals. Look out for vehicles trying to make a turn.
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
Contact Mesriani Law Group If You Are a Pedestrian That Was Recently Struck by a Car
After a pedestrian car accident, don’t wait to speak with a personal injury accident lawyer. In California, there is a strict deadline for filing your claim so be sure to contact our law office as soon as possible. We accept clients on a no win, no fee basis and this means if we don’t win your case, you don’t pay us anything. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (866) 500-7070.
Pedestrian Accident FAQs
How much money can I get from getting hit by a car as a pedestrian?
Since each accident is unique, there’s no way to know exactly how much your pedestrian accident case could be worth. However, an attorney can calculate a fair settlement amount based on the injuries and damages from your accident. Generally, a pedestrian accident settlement depends on several factors including the severity of the injuries, recovery prognosis, overall health and age of the victim, number of defendants, insurance coverage, comparative negligence, and litigation costs.
What should you do if you get hit by a car while walking?
If you were a pedestrian hit by a car while walking in California, try to remain calm. After moving to a safe location, call local law enforcement. The police will arrive at the scene and write down a police report. Collect names and contact information of all parties involved in the accident. Do not admit fault. Get medical treatment as soon as possible so your injuries get documented. Next, contact an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to help you file your personal injury claim.