The total number of pedestrians that are seriously injured or killed on the roads in California and the U.S., is quite high. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 4,735 pedestrians died in the U.S. from traffic accidents in 2013 alone. On top of that, 150,000 others were those that got injured and received treatment the same year. The state of California has personal injury laws in place which allow the injured pedestrians to file a lawsuit against people who caused the accident.
At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we have handled several claims before to help injured pedestrians get the compensation they deserve. If you are in Orange County, California, and you need our help, we will be there to ensure a smooth process as well as protect your rights.
California Pedestrian Accidents
As mentioned above, pedestrian accidents are prevalent in California, just the same as in other states in the U.S. There are many causes of these accidents. These are for instance, pedestrians getting knocked down by bikes, cars and getting attacked by unleashed dogs. Pedestrian accidents can get very serious. The reason for this is because there is usually no form of protection between them and the ground. In that case, even a slight knock-down could result in severe injuries.
According to Personal Injury Laws in California, any person that has been injured in any form of a pedestrian accident is allowed to file a lawsuit against the person who has caused the accident. Compensation can be sought to cater to the injured person's lost wages, medical bills, pain, and suffering.
The number of personal injury claims that have been filed in California last year alone is estimated to be higher than 6,000. This means that if you are jogging, walking, running, or just relaxing on or close to a roadway, you are at high risk of dying or getting injured from a vehicle or bike crash. Statistics also show that pedestrians are more likely to get injured than people who are riding in vehicles. Everyone needs to know the process of filing a claim against a negligent road user. This way, they can seek compensation if they or their loved ones get into an accident.
Common Grounds for California Pedestrian Accidents
Many cases of reported pedestrian accidents are those that have occurred in urban regions. In as much as many pedestrians have been injured or killed on countryside roads, the number of those that have suffered accidents on the busy urban streets is higher. Urban accidents are also more fatal than those that are experienced in the countryside. Most of the fatal pedestrian mishaps are those that involve an impaired motorist, by drugs or alcohol. Others are those that happen in darkness when pedestrians are walking alongside the road and not on a path.
Some pedestrian accidents are caused by turning cars. A car turning to the left or right can easily hit a pedestrian, leaving them with serious injuries or death. Generally, the most common causes of pedestrian accidents in the state are:
Speeding happens when a driver travels at a speed that is above the posted speed limit or one that makes operating the vehicle unsafe for some road conditions. Many dangerous things could occur when a motorist is traveling at an unsafe speed. These are, for instance:
- He/she could lose control of their car
- Speeding reduces the driver’s reaction time
- It increases the amount of distance a driver needs to stop the vehicle safely
- It reduces the driver’s effectiveness of their car’s occupant-protection features.
If the driver is operating on a hazardous roadway, or through extreme weather, speeding increases their risk of getting into an auto crash.
Failing to Give Way to a Pedestrian
The state of California makes it illegal for motorists to fail to yield to pedestrians who are crossing the road within a marked or unmarked crossways. According to Section 21950 of California vehicle Code, pedestrians have a right to cross a roadway within marked or unmarked crossways safely. However, the law leaves pedestrians with a responsibility to do so with due care for their safety. Most drivers violate this law by failing to reduce their speed as required to give way to an approaching pedestrian. When this happens, it could result in an accident, leaving the pedestrian seriously injured or dead.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not just dangerous for motorists but pedestrians as well. That is why most road accidents are attributed to drunk driving, and they mostly occur at night and over the weekends. If a driver hits a passenger and they are found to have alcohol in their system, they will be held responsible for that accident. They will then required to compensate the injured for all the damages suffered. Experts say that even a little alcohol in your system can affect a driver's ability to make a judgment. Alcohol also makes a motorist unaware of other people on the road, including pedestrians.
Statistics from the Federal Highway Administration show that about 22% of vehicular accidents in the U.S. are those that are caused by bad weather. Inclement weather will affect roadway travels in more ways than one. Other than creating slickness on roads, snow accumulation, and debris on the roadway could make it hard for a driver to operate their cars safely. Slick roads may cause vehicles to slip and slide into other vehicles or pedestrians on the roadway, resulting in injuries or even death depending on the nature of the crash.
A driver cannot be distracted in any way while on the roadway. Distractions come in many forms, with the most common ones being phones and other electronic gadgets. If a driver is texting while driving, for instance, their chances of hitting a pedestrian on the side of the road or one that is crossing on a marked crossway are high. Drivers should also not use musical devices in their cars while driving. Such distractions make them unaware of their surroundings and may be unable to notice a pedestrian nearby.
Note that pedestrians could also be the reason why a road accident occurs. This could happen if:
- They ignored a traffic light
- They were jaywalking
- They were walking out of a marked crosswalk
- They were walking in forbidden areas
- They failed to use the provided sidewalk
- They were wearing dark clothes at night
- They were intoxicated
This means that anyone could be liable for a pedestrian accident. A competent personal injury attorney is needed to advise you on what to do if you are not 100% sure about the person who caused the accident.
Duties and Rights of California Pedestrians
Pedestrians in California enjoy a right of way on sidewalks, crosswalks, and also on public roadways. In addition to these, there are duties pedestrians must adhere to for their safety, especially on public roads. These are:
- Obeying all traffic and crosswalk signs and any other device that has been put forth for their protection
- crossing the road only on designated crosswalks
- In the presence of a path along a road, pedestrians must only use it
- In the absence of a path, pedestrians are allowed to walk along the road’s shoulder, facing oncoming traffic
- When granted a right of way, pedestrians must use it carefully and attentively
- Walkers are expected to use good judgment at all times. They should be conscious of what is around them and should do whatever it takes to remain safe
What To Do If A Vehicle or Motorbike Hits You
An accident of any kind should not be ignored; however minor it seems. Pedestrians suffer severe injuries on the roads, and others lose their lives because of negligent by motorists. That is why the first thing a pedestrian should do if they are knocked down by a vehicle is to call the police. Calling the police will serve two purposes: that of reporting the incident and also for seeking help.
You should also seek medical help as soon as you can. Sometimes medical assistance could be offered at the scene of the accident. It is advisable to accept it. Sometimes victims of crashes get overexcited or suffer shock immediately after the crash. This could mask some of the indicators of serious injuries, such as brain trauma and internal bleeding. It is essential to try and let the paramedics know of physicians about every sign you may be experiencing; however mild it may be. Allow the paramedics to take you to a hospital too if they want to.
In case no one takes you straight to the hospital, it is advisable to visit your doctor, a medical care center, or an emergency room the minute you can. If you refuse treatment or you delay seeking medical help, you may undermine your case. The insurance provider will take it to mean that you did not suffer any injuries at all so that they can deny your compensation claim.
It is worth noting that there are pedestrian injuries that occur on the spot after an accident, and there are others that occur later. Post-accident injuries occur when the victim is mishit, or are thrown against a solid object. An accident can, for instance, break your leg in impact but you could suffer a fractured skull after that if you were thrown against something solid like a wall.
Some of the most common injuries that pedestrians suffer in accidents include:
- Cuts, scrapes on the head, hands, and face as well as bruises
- Traumatic head injuries, which may consist of concussions
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Sprained and torn ligaments
- Fractured legs, arms, pelvis, and hips
Gather as much evidence as you can
Evidence should be gathered immediately after the accident to ensure that you have enough information to file for a claim. If time passes, the accident scene will not be there anymore, and it could be difficult to gather any evidence after that. If you are not in a position to gather any evidence, you could ask someone else or a law enforcement officer to do it on your behalf.
The kind of evidence you should gather in this case will be the name and address of the person who caused the accident, their place of work, email, and phone number as well. You will also need information about their insurance provider. The most critical piece of data will be about the car or motorbike that knocked you. If it is a car, ensure that you have the following information:
- The make of the vehicle, it's model and year
- Its identification number
- Its license number plate
- The name of its owner and contact info
There are different ways to gather evidence at the accident scene. Personal information can be written down, but the pictures could be used to show precisely how the scene of the crash looked immediately after the crash. In this case, you need someone to take as many pictures as possible. You could take videos too, as they form a powerful source of proof.
Again, if you are injured, consider asking another person to record the scene of the accident and the car or motorbike that knocked you in pictures and videos. If the vehicle was damaged, ensure that you get the damage, especially on the part where it came into contact with your body. Record the surrounding areas too, as well as the injuries you sustained. All these will help to show the court exactly what happened.
Take witness account of the accident to back up your claims. People who have been around the scene of the accident can provide written statements that are dated and signed to be used in court. Comments could also be recorded on the phone. Ensure that you take the full names and contact info of every witness who provides their statement.
Who is Held Responsible in a California Pedestrian Accident?
Injuries involving pedestrians can be severe and costly, especially those that have been caused by car accidents. In that case, the injured must get fair compensation out of it to be able to cater for their medical expenses, lost wages, plus their pain and suffering. However, before the victim accident gets the compensation, they must prove that the motorist was responsible for the incident that resulted in the injuries. From the causes of pedestrian accidents above, it is clear that most of these accidents result from negligence. Negligence is said to happen when a driver does not act with care or when they do something that a reasonable motorist would not have done. If therefore you were injured in an accident and you believe that another person was negligent, you may be eligible for personal injury compensation. Personal injury compensation is sought by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Note that even if you are unsure who is responsible for the accident, recklessness or negligence of another party or property owner may prove that they are liable for the injuries you sustained.
It is essential to work closely with a personal injury attorney to determine who could be responsible for the accident so that you can file a lawsuit against them.
In the state of California, motorists have an obligation of care. This means that they should obey all traffic rules and concentrate on what is happening around them at all times. The law mandates motorists to use good judgment and act carefully and reasonably under all circumstances.
Drivers have an exclusive mandate when children are concerned. Young ones are always at a higher risk of getting knocked down by a vehicle. Children are fast and small and therefore, hard to see. It is also hard to foresee the actions of a child. That is why the law necessitates motorists to be extra vigilant, especially when there are children around.
When drivers infringe on their duty of caution, by not observing traffic laws and not using rational care, they are seen as negligent by the law. That is why they are held liable for any accident that results from their negligence. In that case, the responsible driver's insurance provider will be required to compensate the accident victim.
Note that an insurance provider can deny the victim's claim. This happens if they do not have strong evidence that the motorist was indeed negligent and that their negligence was the direct cause of his/her injuries. A personal injury attorney can help you with this. A competent attorney will use every piece of evidence gathered at the scene of the accident as well as any supporting information that could help our case.
Comparative Negligence in California Pedestrian Accidents
Not all California pedestrian accidents are 100% caused by the negligent of other people; sometimes, pedestrians could be at fault and still suffer the most injuries. Other times both the walker and the other party could be responsible for the accident. In such a case, the state of California will use comparative negligence law to determine how the injured pedestrian will receive compensation. What this means is that an injured walker can still pursue compensation even if they were partly responsible for the knockout.
The injured will, however, not be able to claim the full compensation since they were partly liable for the sustained injuries. Under the comparative negligence law, the benefit is reduced to put into account the victim's part of the fault in the accident.
How to File For a Personal Injury Claim After a Pedestrian Accident
An injured pedestrian will need the help of a competent personal injury attorney to kick start their quest for compensation. Finding a qualified attorney to work with should, therefore, be the first thing you do.
With an attorney on your side, it will be time to prove that the other party was negligent. A smart personal injury attorney will know what to consider to verify that the other party was indeed negligent. Did they have an obligation of care? Did they breach that duty? Were the defendant’s actions or lack of actions the leading cause of your injuries? Is there proof to show that they were negligent? Are there factors that could relieve the pedestrian from fault?
If you are 100% sure that the other party was negligent, you can proceed to the next step. In this step, you will make sure that you have all the documents needed in filing a lawsuit. Organized paperwork can make things easy for you in court. With the help of your attorney, ensure that you have police reports, witness statements, the responsible party's statements and medical statements and bills, proof of lost wages, the clothes you wore on the day of the accident and the day's weather report among others.
Note that if the liable party’s insurance provider realizes that you have enough evidence and may win if the lawsuit is filed in court, they may want to settle the claim out of court. This is a good idea, as long as they are offering fair compensation depending on how much you have lost and suffered after the accident. If not, your attorney will proceed to file a claim in court.
Other compensable damages that you are likely to get when you successfully file a lawsuit against a negligent motorist include:
- Counseling costs
- Occupational and physical therapy if they were needed during your recovery
- Lost earning capability
- Loss of consortium, of either a spouse or a registered domestic partner
- Loss of limbs
- Disfigurement or scarring you could have suffered
Find an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Pedestrian accidents are common. For that reason, you might find yourself injured when you least expect it. If this happens, it is essential to identify and get in touch with a competent personal injury attorney. At rhw Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we have well-trained and experienced personal injury attorneys who are always ready and willing to help. Call us at 714-876-1959 if you are in Orange County, and let us help you pursue fair compensation.