Determining fault in a pedestrian accident case is not easy to do in California because of many laws surrounding the case. Services of a personal injury attorney are important when seeking justice and compensation in a pedestrian accident. Reach out for an experienced and skilled attorney at Orange County Personal Injury Attorney for a comprehensive evaluation of your pedestrian accident case.
Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident Overview
Walking should be a fun activity when you want to relax, or maybe if you’re going to avoid vehicle traffic, however, there are safety risks that come with this decision. A pedestrian accident is the worst thing that can happen to you when you choose to commute from one place to another on foot. A pedestrian accident can happen anywhere, whether in public, sidewalks, parking lots, or crosswalks. According to California Vehicle Code 467, a pedestrian can be any person who is:
Riding a device which requires effort to propel for example a skateboard, roller skates, wheelchair or skis
Riding or moving with a mobility assistance device which is motor-powered
A pedestrian accident often leads to catastrophic injuries, especially if the accident involves a vehicle. The injuries that a pedestrian sustains in an accident involving motorists are more severe than the injuries that the victims in the car incur because a pedestrian lacks a protective enclosure. Some pedestrians, such as children and older people, are more prone to severe injuries in a pedestrian accident. Below are examples of injuries a pedestrian accident victim can suffer:
Lacerations, cuts bruises or scarring
Neck, neck or spinal injury
After involvement in a pedestrian accident, determining the accident fault is a question that you should let the jury decide. Several parties can be responsible for causing the pedestrian accident that you were a victim. As much as you think you might be at fault in a pedestrian accident, you should never admit fault without seeking a personal injury attorney’s services. A personal injury attorney will gather pieces of evidence and information surrounding the case to determine the at-fault party in the pedestrian accident that you were a victim.
Things To Do Immediately After a Pedestrian Accident Before Determining Fault in The Incident
After a pedestrian accident, some people become unconscious due to the vehicle's impact on the fragile human body. If you’re conscious after a pedestrian accident, you might even get into an argument with the other accident victims. Never admit fault for the accident, even if the driver confronts you aggressively. That is what they do to avoid taking the accident liability when they are at fault. There are a few things you need to do after a pedestrian accident to stay on the safe side in terms of accident liability and also to be able to seek compensation for the accident damages, they include:
Get an eyewitness contact information
Ask the driver’s contact information
Get the vehicle license plate number and insurance information
Call the police who will compile the accident report
Capture pictures of the accident scene and your injuries
Seek services of a personal injury attorney
Do the above crucial things after a pedestrian accident. In doing so, you can determine the accident fault later easily with your injury attorney’s help and seek reimbursement for damages that you incur during treatment or therapy. Police report after a pedestrian accident goes a long way in proving the accident liability in the court in case of a lawsuit.
California Pedestrian Laws You Need to Beware of When Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
California pedestrian laws determine who is a pedestrian in traffic because, as explained above, not everyone in public is a pedestrian. California pedestrian laws dictate the relationship between the driver and the pedestrian in traffic. According to California Vehicle Code 21950, both the driver and pedestrian must exercise a reasonable duty of care while traversing the streets to avoid foreseeable accidents. Below are right of way laws for pedestrians and drivers in California:
Drivers have a legal responsibility to yield to pedestrians who are crossing a road within designated areas for passing such as crosswalks even if the pedestrian is not careful
No driver should stop anywhere within the crosswalk thus forcing the pedestrian to walk around the car because it poses a safety risk to the pedestrian
No driver should overtake the vehicle which is motionless at a crosswalk because that only means there are pedestrians passing
A pedestrian has a legal obligation to observe the traffic rules
A pedestrian has a statutory right of way whether he/she is crossing in marked or unmarked crosswalks
Pedestrians should not jaywalk because it can lead to accidents which will have the pedestrian liable
The driver should be more vigilant and careful when he/she notices a blind person trying to cross the streets by stopping 5 feet away from the place of intersection because blind people usually depend on the vehicle sound to know how close it is.
Motorists can only drive their vehicles across a sidewalk only when exiting or entering an alleyway or garage.
The above laws are fundamental as they help pedestrians and drivers know their responsibility while on the road to avoid unnecessary pedestrian accidents. Violation of Vehicle Code 21950 by failing to yield to a pedestrian right of way can lead to a fine of at least $238 if there is an accident leading to injuries. The penalty becomes even more severe, adding up to $1,000 and a six-months jail term if a blind person is a victim of the pedestrian accident.
Grounds of Liability When Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
When it comes to establishing liability and fault in a pedestrian accident, many parties could be held liable for damages and injuries depending on the circumstances and location of the accident that you were a victim. Below are the parties and potential areas of fault and liability in a pedestrian accident that you need to beware of when filing a lawsuit after an accident:
The vehicle driver is always the first susceptible party for causing most pedestrian accidents. However, he/she is not guilty until the court decides so. The vehicle driver is liable for damages and injuries resulting from a pedestrian accident if he/she fails to observe his/her obligation of care towards the pedestrians, whether in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Most pedestrian accidents involving vehicles are due to careless and reckless drivers who are often driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
A driver whose negligent actions such as traffic violations, lead to a pedestrian accident should be liable for damages and injuries resulting from the accident. Often the driver will try to blame you for being careless hence causing the accident, but you should never admit the fault. Insist on speaking to your injury attorney before signing any documents the driver hands over to you. To protect your rights in a pedestrian accident case, you should consider seeking a personal injury attorney who will also help you seek compensation for damages you incur as a result of the accident.
A pedestrian also has a legal obligation to be responsible and careful when traversing the streets to avoid foreseeable accidents as per the California Vehicle Code 21950. A pedestrian who engages in risky activities while crossing the streets that causes an accident should be liable for his/her damages and injuries if the defendant can prove to the jury that the pedestrian was negligent during the accident.
Even though the pedestrian is more vulnerable in terms of injuries in a pedestrian accident, it doesn’t mean they are blameless. Sometimes, it's their negligence that leads to the occurrence of a pedestrian accident. A pedestrian must observe traffic laws, act responsibly whenever on the road, and use only designated areas to traverse streets such as crosswalks and sidewalks.
Strict Product Liability
Automobile manufacturers must protect their customers' safety by ensuring every vehicle is safe for driving before it leaves their possession. Sometimes although not often, pedestrian accidents happen due to defective parts of a car, which affects the normal functioning of the vehicle. Accident liability in such a scenario where there is a defective part, the manufacturer of the vehicle or part should be liable for damages resulting from an accident under strict product liability legal doctrine.
The vehicle manufacturer should be at-fault in a pedestrian accident where there is a defective part in a vehicle unless they can prove to the jury that the car was not defective when it left their possession.
Under California Civil Code 1714 (a), property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain and keep their property or premises safe to prevent accidents, leading to injuries and damages.
A property or premises owner who fails to maintain and keep his/her property in a reasonable and safe condition should be liable for damages and injuries that come by as a result of the property/premises unsafe condition. When filing a lawsuit against premises, below are elements that you need to prove to the tribunal:
The defendant had control, owned, leased, or occupied the property.
The defendant was aware of the unsafe condition of his/her premises, but he/she did nothing about it.
Your injuries were a result of the premises unsafe condition, and those injuries wouldn’t happen if the defendant weren’t negligent in maintaining his/her property in a safe condition.
According to the California respondeat superior law, employers can be accountable for their employee’s negligence. Respondeat superior law comes in action if someone sustains injuries due to particular employee negligence or wrongful acts. An employee must also be under the control of an employer and working within the scope of his/her employer’s expectations for this legal doctrine to apply when determining liability in a pedestrian accident.
Suppose a motorist working for a particular company leads to a pedestrian accident that has left you with injuries and damages. You may still have a viable lawsuit against the motorist employer under respondeat superior legal doctrine.
Ways of Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident Involving a Motorist
Every personal injury lawsuit involving a motorist involves proving accident liability through negligence. Legal liability in a pedestrian accident is a question that the judge should decide. When determining legal liability in a pedestrian accident, you need to establish if the defendant had a legal responsibility to protect your safety by acting in a particular manner. Below are ways of determining pedestrian accident fault through the basis of negligence:
The court will listen to both parties’ evidence and eyewitnesses’ testimonies to determine if the pedestrian accident that leads to your injuries and damages was foreseeable to any reasonable person. Below are essential legal elements for proving negligence in a pedestrian accident involving a motorist.
Duty of Care
The presence of a duty of care obligation is the first legal element for demonstrating negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. Every motorist and pedestrian should act responsibly while on the traffic by exercising a reasonable duty of care towards each other to prevent foreseeable accidents.
If the pedestrian accident was foreseeable to a reasonable person, it means the defendant was negligent in observing his/her duty of care responsibility towards the claimant. Thus, he/she should be liable for injuries and damages resulting from the accident. The plaintiff must demonstrate the existence of a duty of care responsibility when proving negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.
Duty of Care Breach
After demonstrating the presence of duty of care during the occurrence of the pedestrian accident that you were a victim, you should also go ahead and prove to the tribunal how the motorist breached his/her duty of care towards you hence leading to your injuries. During a pedestrian accident, many motorists breach their duty of care by violating traffic laws and failing to yield at pedestrians passing in a crosswalk.
If a distracted driver’s errors lead to your injuries and damages after a pedestrian accident, you’re eligible for a personal injury lawsuit to seek reimbursement for your damages. After making the crucial decision to file a lawsuit against the offender, you should go ahead and seek a personal injury attorney’s services before filing your lawsuit for legal representation.
Suppose the evidence that your personal injury attorney has gathered proves that the defendant breached the duty of care obligation. In that case, the defendant’s wrongdoings during the duty of care breach should be related to your injuries and damages. In determining the actual causation of your damages, your lawyer must prove to the jury that you wouldn’t incur any injuries or damage if it weren’t because of the defendant’s negligent actions for failing to observe his/her a duty of care responsibility.
The court recognizes the possibility of a proximate cause of your damages and injuries when the defendant’s negligent acts or wrongdoings aren’t the direct cause of your injuries. For instance, the defendant might not be liable for your damages and injuries if he/she hits a pole on the roadside that fell on you while walking on a sidewalk. There is no proof that he/she directly led to your injuries and damages.
The defendant’s wrongdoings during the pedestrian accident’s occurrence must result in damages or injuries for you to receive compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. A driver might fail to observe his/her duty of care towards you, but it does not necessarily mean he/she leads to your injuries and damages. Proving negligence in a personal injury lawsuit requires the plaintiff to demonstrate to the jury beyond no reasonable doubt that there were actual damages as a result of the pedestrian accident.
A reliable personal injury attorney will advise you to keep all your post-medical bill receipts after a pedestrian accident. These post medical bill receipts will be essential not only to prove to your insurer that there were damages after a pedestrian accident but also to prove to the court that the defendant's negligence leads to your damages. Testimonies from your post-accident therapists and medical specialists can go a long way in determining if the defendant was negligent during a pedestrian accident.
Depending on the amount of evidence you have to demonstrate the existence of damages after a pedestrian accident, you might be eligible to receive compensatory (economic) damages or non-economic damages. Below are examples of damages you might receive if the court lures the defendant guilty of negligence:
Compensatory (Economic) Damages
Compensatory or economic damages are typically in terms of monetary values for the financial losses the plaintiff suffers after the pedestrian accident. The plaintiff will receive economic damages for the following types of losses:
Lost earning capacity
Medical care specialist follow-up services and medications prescriptions
The plaintiff in a pedestrian accident might also receive non-economic damages if the damages the plaintiff is experiencing cannot receive monetary reimbursement. The plaintiff is eligible for non-economic damages for the following types of losses after a pedestrian accident:
Pain and suffering
Loss of enjoyment in life
Bodily impairment for instance loss of a body organ or limb
Inconvenience in daily chores
Depending on the nature of the pedestrian accident and circumstances surrounding the case, the court might also impose punitive damages to the defendant as a form of punishment for his/her wrongdoings or conduct during the occurrence of the accident per California Civil Code 3294.
Negligence Per Se
Suppose the defendant violates a traffic regulation hence leading to a pedestrian accident injury. In that case, the court presumes he/she was negligent, thus leading to the accident’s occurrence according to “negligence per se” legal theory. Negligence per se legal theory applies to most personal injury cases when the defendant is guilty of violating an ordinance meant to prevent such accidents.
Like any other negligence case in a personal injury lawsuit, your injury attorney must prove to the jury that the defendant was negligent, leading to your injuries and damages for you to get adequate reimbursement.
When determining fault in a pedestrian accident lawsuit, the court takes a lot of factors into account before deciding which party is guilty of negligence. The jury understands the possibility of all parties in a pedestrian accident partially contributing to the occurrence of the accident. Comparative negligence law applies in situations where more than one individual shares the fault of the accident.
Comparative negligence law replaced the contributory rule in California. Victims of personal injury cases could not receive any compensation for their damages if they were partially negligent during the accident. According to California’s comparative negligence law, even if you were partly at fault during the pedestrian accident occurrence, the court will decide the amount of compensation you receive for the accident damages depending on your degree of negligence or carelessness during the event of the accident.
Determining fault in court for a pedestrian accident case in California, you should expect different turns in your case because the personal injury laws surrounding such cases are complex. What matters during a personal injury lawsuit after a pedestrian accident is the number and types of evidence you have for proving the other party was negligent hence leading to the accident which left you with damages and injuries. Therefore, to avoid leaving the court at the expense of the trial in a personal injury lawsuit, it’s always wise to have legal representation by a qualified personal injury attorney.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
As explained above, determining fault in a pedestrian accident is not easy for a layman. Orange County Personal Injury Attorney has the right type of experts you need for your pedestrian accident injury case if you’re searching for an attorney familiar with the California personal injury laws. Call our experienced attorneys at 714-876-1959.