Your Legal Rights After Being Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

pedestrian walking sign

Going for a leisure walk outside or getting a morning run in may not seem like extraordinarily dangerous activities. While such activities are beneficial for our health, they can also lead to tragic pedestrian accidents.

Because pedestrians lack the physical protection around them that motor vehicles provide for vehicle occupants, those involved in pedestrian accidents oftentimes sustain catastrophic injuries or are killed. If you are lucky enough to survive one of these events, you should know what your legal rights are and who is liable to pay for your damages.

Infographic on pedestrian accidents (a public safety crisis)​Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Each year, thousands of pedestrians across California and the U.S. are seriously injured when they are struck by motor vehicles. The California Office of Traffic Safety even deemed pedestrian accidents as having reached “crisis proportions” in most recent years. Below are some statistics on accidents between pedestrians and vehicles:

  • In 2018, 6,283 pedestrians in the U.S. were killed in motor vehicle accidents, the most since 1990
  • This is an increase from the 5,977 pedestrians killed in 2017 traffic crashes
  • 893 of these pedestrian fatalities in 2018 occurred in California
  • In 2018, there were more than 14,000 pedestrians injured in California
  • California pedestrian deaths rose 26% between 2014 and 2018
  • California’s pedestrian fatality rate is about 25% higher than the national average
  • No state has more pedestrian deaths than California
  • 47% of crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death involved alcohol

So, how does the city of Fresno fare when it comes to pedestrian-vehicle accidents? Unfortunately, it’s probably not as safe as many would hope. A 2019 report entitled “Dangerous by Design” by Smart Growth America, a nonprofit dedicated to urban planning and metropolitan issues, found that Fresno ranks in the top 30 cities on the “Pedestrian Danger Index” in the U.S.

According to the study, there were 209 pedestrians killed on Fresno streets between 2008 and 2017. This comes out to 2.17 deaths per 100,000 people, making it the 26th deadliest metro area in the U.S. for pedestrians. It’s also the second deadliest in California, just behind the city of Bakersfield (the seventh nationally), which saw 247 pedestrian deaths in the same period.

Common Causes of Pedestrian-Vehicle Accidents

Drivers will generally always owe a duty of care to pedestrians, which means they should slow down and exercise caution as needed to keep pedestrians safe. According to California Vehicle Code 21950, motor vehicles are required to always yield to pedestrians who are crossing the street in a crosswalk.

Unfortunately, not all drivers take the precautions they should when approaching crosswalks, yielding to pedestrians, and operating their vehicles to keep pedestrians safe. The good news is that understanding how pedestrian accidents occur can help prevent them:

  • Distracted Drivers. When drivers are focused on their phones, digital devices, or other distractions, they are less likely to spot pedestrians and brake in time if one is in their path.
  • Impaired Drivers. Drivers who operate their vehicles intoxicated are a danger to pedestrians and are more likely to run red lights, drive through crosswalks, or make left-hand turns into groups of pedestrians.
  • Speeding. When drivers do not abide by the speed limit and reduce their speeds in crosswalks, they may not be able to react in time and brake as needed.
  • Road Rage. Because pedestrians have the right-of-way, impatient drivers may become frustrated about having to wait and begin engaging in reckless road rage behaviors.
  • Bad Weather. Adverse weather conditions, including fog, rain, and hail, can hinder a driver’s ability to see the road and pedestrians; wet road conditions can also affect a driver’s ability to slow down or brake.
  • Failing to Keep a Lookout at Night. Drivers have a harder time spotting pedestrians when it’s dark outside, especially when they are not utilizing their headlights properly.
  • Backing Up Without Looking. Pedestrians, especially young children, are at risk of being hit by vehicles pulling out of parking spots or driveways because drivers are not keeping a proper lookout.
  • Vehicles Making Left-Hand Turns. One of the most common types of pedestrian-vehicle accidents occurs when vehicles are making left-hand turns at green yield lights and striking pedestrians who are in the crosswalk.

Other Types of Pedestrian Knockdown Accidents

Vehicle drivers are not the only offenders of pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians face a variety of hazards and are injured in knockdown accidents daily. Some ways that pedestrians are commonly knocked down include:

  • Bikers on sidewalks
  • Uncontrolled or unleashed dogs
  • Electric scooter (Bird or Lime) accidents
  • Runners on the sidewalk
  • Other pedestrians distracted on their phones
  • City buses or trucks with large mirrors that extend over the sidewalk
  • Physical fights on the street
  • Trip hazards

Determining Fault and Pursuing Compensation

Ultimately, if you were injured as a pedestrian because of another person’s negligent actions, you may have legal grounds to file a personal injury claim to get compensated for your:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional wounds

As an injured pedestrian, you may believe your case is fairly simple and pursuing compensation won’t be a problem. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t see it this way. Due to California’s comparative fault laws, an injured pedestrian could have their compensation reduced if they are found to be partly at fault for their accident.

You may know that you did nothing to cause the accident. However, to maximize their profits and reduce payouts, the insurance company that you file a claim with may try to say that you were partially or wholly responsible for the accident because you:

  • Jaywalked
  • Left the curb suddenly
  • Made an unnecessary stop or delayed traffic in the crosswalk

To protect yourself and your rights to compensation after a pedestrian accident, it’s always recommended that you hire a dedicated pedestrian accident attorney who can work hard to ensure that you are not held liable for your injuries and that the insurance company pays you the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive.

Fighting for Injured Pedestrians Across Fresno

After being injured, your job should always be to focus on getting better, not stressing over the legal obstacles that may present themselves and stand in the way of your recovery. At Fowler Helsel Vogt, our legal team has decades of experience fighting for justice on behalf of injured pedestrians and their families. We are here to help you through your most trying times.

Get zealous legal advocates in your corner today by calling (559) 900-1280 or filling out our online contact form. We answer our phones 24/7 and offer free case evaluations.

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