California is listed as one of the nation’s most dangerous states for pedestrians. The statistics for pedestrian deaths have been on a constant rise over the past couple of years, with hit-and-run accidents becoming rampant. Fortunately, California law offers protection to pedestrians, which is called duty of care.
Duty of care is a legal responsibility to use reasonable care to avoid inflicting harm on others. Drivers are therefore obligated to obey traffic laws to avoid injuring pedestrians. If you or a loved one has been wounded after a pedestrian accident in California, you may seek compensation for your damages, and Setareh Law can help with the claims process to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
What Are Right-of-Way Laws in California?
As most know, California vehicle code requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Drivers are also to consider the presence of cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians when determining their driving speed.
Although drivers must exercise care to avoid hitting pedestrians, the right-of-way law is a double-edged sword. Pedestrians must use reasonable care when crossing the street and obey all traffic laws to avert accidents.
Duty of Care Considerations for Drivers
Along with reducing speed and exercising extra caution when pedestrians are present, there are more specific scenarios that drivers must consider to fully exercise their duty of care:
- Drivers can only drive on a sidewalk during entry or exit to an alleyway or garage. Nevertheless, they’re still required to yield to any pedestrians if need be.
- Drivers aren’t allowed to stop within a crosswalk, as it places the pedestrians in direct danger while walking around the vehicle.
- A driver must pay special attention to slower pedestrians, such as the elderly, those with a physical disability, or children.
- Drivers must watch out for and follow any special signs pertaining to pedestrians.
- Drivers are expected to avoid an accident if at all possible, even if the pedestrian is violating their duty of care.
This is not an exhaustive list; please refer to the California DMV Driver’s Handbook for a full explanation of laws and regulations for California drivers.
Duty of Care Considerations for Pedestrians
Again, while this list isn’t exhaustive, it provides an idea of what pedestrians should avoid while in locations with traffic. As a pedestrian, consider the following:
- Avoid jaywalking. While jaywalking is no longer against the law, if an accident is caused by jaywalking, the pedestrian bears liability.
- Do not stop in the middle of a crosswalk. Stopping or delaying traffic in itself can be dangerous.
- Do not leave the curb suddenly or unexpectedly.
- Do not run into the path of an oncoming vehicle for any reason.
- Keep full control of any pets or children in your care. An accident caused by a driver avoiding a pedestrian or their companions can put the pedestrian at fault, even if they were not directly involved in the accident.
Also, pedestrians with an impaired physical condition are held to the degree of care reasonably expected of someone with a physical disability. They must use other senses to check if the street is safe for crossing. They could, however, be liable for negligence if they cross the road without first exercising due care to check traffic conditions.
When Is the Duty of Care to a Pedestrian Breached?
The question of if a duty of care exists and whether it has been violated is the subject of the court. Below are several factors per California law to determine whether a driver is liable for a pedestrian accident:
- The defendant owed the pedestrian a duty of care
- The defendant negligently defied the duty of care
- The defendant’s negligence is directly linked to the accident
The driver is fully liable for the pedestrian accident and, therefore, legally required to compensate the plaintiff for all the damages they incurred.
What to Do After Being Involved in a Pedestrian Accident
Being an accident victim can be a harrowing and daunting experience for anyone. Here are a few things you can do to take care of yourself and build a solid personal injury claim:
1. Seek Medical Attention
Get a thorough medical check-up to treat superficial wounds and check for internal injuries. Be sure to ask the doctor for medical documentation that details the extent of the injuries you sustained. The documentation will be key evidence in your lawsuit.
2. Make a Police Report
Contact the nearest law enforcement officers to take your statements and document the scene of the accident. Make sure to get a copy of the police report to present as evidence in the claim or lawsuit.
3. Collect Evidence
If you can, take photos and videos of the accident. This can include pictures of the car that hit you and the extent of the injuries you have sustained. Also, if there are people around that witnessed the accident, get their contact information.
4. Avoid Speaking to Insurance Companies
It is almost guaranteed that the driver’s insurance company will reach out to offer you a small settlement. Do not accept their offer before speaking to a lawyer, however, as they may try to lowball you.
5. Hire a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Enlisting the help of a seasoned personal injury attorney will turn your case around. A reliable attorney will gather evidence, present it to a jury and get you the maximum financial compensation. Additionally, they are well-versed in insurance company tactics and will navigate them seamlessly.
Contact Our Pedestrian Accident Lawyer to Get Legal Help
If you’ve been wounded in a pedestrian accident, having the right attorney on your side can let you focus on what is essential: your health. Our pedestrian accident attorneys at Setareh Law can apply their wealth of experience to your case and help you get compensated for your damages.
Our Spanish-speaking attorneys are entirely committed to you. Your case will be handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay us unless we get you results. Contact us today by calling (310) 659-1826 or by filling out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our resourceful legal team.