Traffic accidents are the leading cause of the death in the United States among people aged one to 54, resulting in more than 38,000 deaths every year, and an additional 4.4 million people sustain traffic accident injuries severe enough to require medical attention. Unfortunately, pedestrian and bicycle accidents account for a large percentage of these injuries and fatalities, and as more and more Americans work to improve their health by walking or biking instead of driving, fatalities from pedestrian and bicycle accidents continue to rise. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more pedestrians and cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2018 than in any year since 1990. If you or a loved one was harmed in a California pedestrian accident, don’t wait to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault person or party. California law imposes a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, which means you only have a short time from the date of the injury to file a claim for damages. If you wait too long and the two-year deadline passes, your right to compensation will be lost.
- Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
- Distracted Driving
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
- Speeding or Reckless Driving
- Failure to Properly Yield
- Defective Crosswalk Design, Layout or Placement
- Unsafe Road Conditions or Defective Traffic Features
- Injuries from Pedestrian Accidents
- Proving Liability in Pedestrian Accidents
- Shared Fault and Pure Comparative Negligence Laws
- Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Help
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents. These days, cell phones are a major contributor to distracted driving, but they aren’t the only distraction drivers face. If you were injured in a pedestrian accident involving a driver who was distracted by a cell phone, the radio, a passenger, another driver or some other outside influence, you may have a negligence claim against the distracted driver.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Drunk driving remains a serious problem in California and across the country. Too often, drivers get behind the wheel after having too much to drink, putting themselves and anyone else on the road at risk – other drivers and pedestrians alike. In the United States, 29% of fatal traffic accidents involve alcohol.
Speeding or Reckless Driving
Speed limits are designed to set the legal maximum or minimum speed at which motor vehicles can safely travel on a particular roadway. Unfortunately, not all drivers obey the posted speed limit and when they fail to do so, they can significantly increase the risk of a traffic accident.
Failure to Properly Yield
Drivers tend to forget that they are expected to share the road with bicycles and pedestrians. Often, drivers will approach an intersection preparing to make a right turn and look left to see if there are any oncoming vehicles. What they often forget to do is look to their right to see if there are any pedestrians in the crosswalk or walking alongside them before making their turn. Or if they are making a left-hand turn, they may fail to see that there are pedestrians in the process of crossing the road directly in their path.
Defective Crosswalk Design, Layout or Placement
Not all pedestrian accidents are caused by distracted or reckless drivers. In some cases, pedestrians are injured in traffic accidents resulting from a defectively designed crosswalk. Pedestrians are at their most vulnerable when they are crossing the road and when a pedestrian crosswalk’s design, placement and/or layout contributes or causes an accident, a city, county or California state government agency may be liable for the resulting harm.
Unsafe Road Conditions or Defective Traffic Features
In addition to ensuring that crosswalks are safe for pedestrians to use, the local government is also responsible for designing and maintaining the roadway and addressing any potentially dangerous road conditions that could put pedestrians at risk for an accident. If they fail to do so and an accident occurs as a result, they may be held accountable. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for injury claims against a city, county or state government agency in California is much shorter – only six months, rather than the typical two-year time limit.
Injuries from Pedestrian Accidents
In a collision involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the pedestrian is almost always going to bear the brunt of the force, which can have devastating, possibly fatal consequences. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, pedestrians involved in traffic collisions may sustain one or more of the following injuries:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Road rash
- Neck or back injury
- Head injury
- Facial injuries
- Loss of vision
- Wrongful death
Proving Liability in Pedestrian Accidents
The first step in pursuing compensation for pedestrian accident injuries is proving liability, or fault. In California, motor vehicle owners are legally liable for any injury or death to a person caused by a negligent or wrongful act, or a lack of proper action, in the operation of the motor vehicle, and pedestrian accident victims have the right to pursue compensation from any driver whose negligence caused or contributed to their injuries by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Shared Fault and Pure Comparative Negligence Laws
In some California personal injury cases, the defendant may claim that the injured person is partly at fault for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries. This is known as shared fault. If, for instance, you are hit by a speeding driver while crossing the road in a crosswalk and the driver claims that you crossed on a red light, you could share some level of liability. Under California’s pure comparative negligence laws, the total amount of compensation you are entitled to for your injuries could be reduced by an amount that is equal to the percentage of your fault. The laws surrounding traffic accidents and personal injury cases in California can be complicated, which is why it is always a good idea to consult a qualified attorney when pursuing a claim for damages following a California pedestrian accident.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Help
In California, pedestrian deaths account for roughly 22% of all traffic accident fatalities. Sadly, many of these pedestrian deaths are caused by the negligence or wrongful actions of another person or entity. If you or someone you love has been injured in a California pedestrian accident caused by a negligent driver, defective crosswalk design or unsafe road condition, contact our firm for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys have successfully represented pedestrian accident victims and their loved ones throughout California, and we will fight to get you the justice you deserve. We know how devastating the consequences of a pedestrian accident can be and we can help you work towards recovering fair and timely compensation for your injuries, medical expenses and other losses.