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The Rising Concern of Pedestrian Accidents in California


detail of dangerous road crossing with pedestrian 2023 11 27 05 02 53 utc

California’s pedestrian death toll is still on the rise.

Last January 6th, ABC7 reported two separate crashes in Anaheim that left one woman dead and three others injured following what appeared to be hit-and-runs committed by one vehicle. 

Unfortunately, this case is only one out of the thousands of pedestrian accidents California witnesses regularly. In fact, data gathered over the years show that the Golden State has the highest number of pedestrian traffic fatalities nationwide, with the California Office of Traffic Safety noting that California’s fatality rate is almost 25% higher than the national average. In 2022 alone, the state recorded at least 1,100 deaths brought about by traffic safety issues and pedestrian accidents. 

“There’s this race to the bottom of people buying more large cars because they want to feel safer around all of the other large cars. Pedestrians are ever more vulnerable, ever more at risk, from these larger vehicles,” Rebecca Sanders, founder of crash analysis firm Safe Streets Research & Consulting, said in an interview with The Hill. 

Safety guidelines for pedestrians

No one has a sure-fire way of preventing accidents but we can all do our part as pedestrians to lessen the risk and secure our safety.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, it is important to always make yourself visible by wearing brightly colored clothes or carrying a flashlight when walking at night. Also, make sure to pay attention to your surroundings—stay off your phone, and minimize distractions. 

The most salient tip of all, however, is to always walk in designated crosswalk and to obey traffic signals—take note of intersections and crosswalks and always watch out for any coming vehicles. 

Who is liable in a pedestrian accident?

Generally speaking, the driver is considered at fault if a pedestrian is hit, as per California’s right of way laws. To be specific, according to California Vehicle Code 29150, drivers shall “yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” The rationale behind the law is that it recognizes that pedestrians are inherently at a disadvantage in such cases due to their lack of protection. 

However, it is important to remember that this rule is not without exceptions. The law also takes into account pedestrian negligence such as jaywalking, walking into traffic while under the influence, or anything that would show that the pedestrian had contributed to the injury they sustained. In these instances, the driver may not be held liable. 

What do you need to prove in order to receive claims in a personal injury lawsuit of this nature?

In order to be successful in a pedestrian injury claim, a plaintiff needs to prove three vital elements: first, that the driver owed the pedestrian a duty of care. Second, that the same driver breached said duty of care due to negligence, and third, that the negligence was the cause of the pedestrian’s injury. 

The amounts for the settlement of personal injury cases vary significantly due to the unique factors brought about by each specific situation. In pedestrian accident cases wherein the plaintiff suffered only minor injuries, recent data shows that the settlement amounts ranged from $10k to $75k. This amount can—and will—go higher if the plaintiff sustained severe injuries.

What do you do if you are involved in a pedestrian accident?

First and foremost, it’s vital that you stay calm to allow yourself to thoroughly assess the situation and check if you have sustained any significant injuries. Always make sure to call for medical assistance and law enforcement. Second, do not forget to exchange information with the driver involved, both for purposes of identification and insurance. Third, get a hold of a police report of the incident. Fourth, if you can, gather evidence—take photos. Fifth and most important of all, get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer, preferably one that handles pedestrian accidents. 

Here at Ellis Helm, APC we are proud to report that a significant portion of our practice is dedicated to advocating for persons who have been hurt in pedestrian injury cases—from pedestrian accidents and biking incidents to car and truck accidents. If you are in need of a pedestrian accident attorney in Southern California to represent you in an upcoming personal injury case, reach out to Ellis today for a free, no-obligation consultation.