PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT LAWYER
When a large, heavy vehicle collides with a small, vulnerable human body, the outcome is always ugly.. Automobiles or trucks striking a pedestrian, even at speeds as low at 10 miles per hour, could leave the pedestrian with serious injuries—if he or she actually survives the accident.With cell phones, road glare, hazardous road conditions, congested areas, excessive speed or other dangerous distractions coming together, it’s no surprise that fatal traffic accidents involving pedestrians were up 3% in 2018 from the previous year. Los Angeles County was even rated the most dangerous place to be a pedestrian for two years in a row.Over 20,000 hit and run accidents are reported in Los Angeles every year, with pedestrians making up one third of all traffic fatalities—a disproportionately high rate compared with the rest of the country.
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What to do after a pedestrian accident
It’s completely normal to be shaken up after being involved in an accident. Your body releases adrenaline when you are in a dangerous situation and this “fight or flight” hormone heightens your senses, leaving you a bit jittery for a while afterward. Once any vehicles involved have come to a stop, following these guidelines can help protect your and other people at the scene of the accident:
- Get to safety. Approaching cars and trucks may not be able to stop or avoid people or vehicles left unexpectedly in the road, so make sure everyone gets out of the roadway and to a safe location. If it is possible to move vehicles off of the road, move them. Of course, do not move your car if a pedestrian who is badly injured and cannot be moved is in front of it. If you are the pedestrian and are unable to move due to your injuries, try to stay calm.
- Call 911. Any accident involving pedestrians is serious. In addition to having police file a collision report from the scene, paramedics should be called to check for injuries. Answer all questions from the police and medical personnel truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. Be aware that you may have sustained injuries that have not yet become apparent. If you don’t feel any pain, tell the paramedics that you don’t feel any pain at that moment, instead of saying that you aren’t injured. Be sure to get a copy of the collision report for your records.
- Contact your auto insurance providers. Let them know what happened from your perspective.
- Exchange contact information with the other parties involved, if possible. Aside from checking on injuries and exchanging information, avoid talking excessively with the other party. Do not apologize to the other party or make any other statement that might indicate fault. Avoid speaking with their insurance company or lawyer. If the other party makes a statement that may indicate fault, such as “I didn’t see you,”, be sure to write it down exactly.
- Take pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words! If you have a camera, be sure to snap photos of all vehicles involved, the scene of the accident, and any injuries that occurred. These photos are invaluable evidence of what actually happened and this is your one opportunity to capture them.
- Contact an attorney. If you are a pedestrian who was injured in the accident, it’s a good idea to contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in pedestrian accidents. Many impact injuries worsen with time and are not immediately apparent. An experienced personal injury lawyer can advise you on your best course of action. This will help you get the compensation that you deserve to pay for all of your medical bills, and preserve your options if your condition worsens in the future. If you are facing criminal charges for your part in the accident, you may also want to contact a criminal attorney for advice.
Injured pedestrians have recourse in California—even if the driver fled the scene of the accident without any witnesses to give police information about the vehicle.
The usual course of action is to receive treatment under your own health insurance and allow your health insurance company to recoup the expense from the responsible auto insurance company. If the driver has not been identified, or has inadequate or no insurance, you can still file a claim up to the limit of your uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) through your own automobile insurance policy. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help guide you through the process.
California Vehicle Code requires that drivers observe the following laws regarding pedestrians:
- Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the road within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
- Do not pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk in the event that the vehicle is waiting for a pedestrian to cross.
- Only drive on the sidewalk if entering or exiting a garage/alleyway and always yield to pedestrians in these areas.
- Don’t stop in and block a crosswalk.
- At a stop light or sign without an advance stop bar (line), stop your vehicle 5 feet or closer to the crosswalk. Blind pedestrians judge your position and speed using the sound of your engine, so drive close to the crosswalk to allow the person to hear you.
- Obey traffic signals and other devices designed for pedestrian safety.
- Cross the road at designated crosswalks.
- Use the sidewalk, if available.
- Walk along the shoulder of the road facing traffic if there is no sidewalk available.
Failure of a driver to yield the right of way to a pedestrian carries a minimum $220 fine if an injury occurs. Failure to yield to a blind pedestrian carries a maximum $1,000 fine, six months in prison or both.
Following the law absolves drivers of criminal activity, but they are still responsible for using caution around pedestrians. Regardless of the pedestrian’s reckless behavior, drivers are expected to exercise due care to avoid contact. Pedestrians are likewise charged with exercising due care to protect themselves around automobiles—especially when a driver is driving recklessly.
Although it may surprise you, pedestrians may be determined to be at fault in an accident. In order to determine fault, investigators will consider actions such as the following:
- Where the crossing took place:
- Inside or outside of a crosswalk
- Visibility choices:
- Wearing light or dark clothing at night
- In plain view or darting out from between parked cars
- In a crosswalk, but crossed against the light
- Walking on the road
- Where the crossing took place:
- Driving over the speed limit or too fast for conditions
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Turning left
- Road conditions
- Weather conditions
California uses the pure comparative negligence system. This means that if you were determined to be partially at fault for the accident as a pedestrian, your compensation may be reduced according to the percentage of determined fault.
For example, if your damages as a pedestrian came to $10,000 and your portion of fault was determined to be 10%, you would be able to receive $9,000 compensation.
A pedestrian who is determined to be at fault may also be held liable for other vehicles or property that was damaged in the accident, and any injuries that occurred. This might be the case if, for example, a pedestrian ran into the street, causing a car to swerve and hit a parked car.
Some pedestrian accidents may also be the fault of the city of town where the accident occurred because of the layout of the roads, a dangerously placed crosswalk, or failure of traffic control devices, such as traffic lights and stop signs.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. In order to determine the value of the compensation, the following factors are usually taken into consideration:
- The severity of your injuries. Worse injuries are generally awarded more compensation.
- Amount of time missed at work. Time away from work will determine lost wages.
- Extent of medical treatment. Treatment by a neurosurgeon generally carries more weight than treatment by a chiropractor, for example.
- Impact of injuries on your quality of life. How your injuries changed your life will help determine pain and suffering.
- Whether your injury is temporary or permanent. Permanent injuries tend to carry more weight as your quality of life will be affected indefinitely.
- Fault of the accident. Someone with little to no fault is likely to receive more compensation than someone determined to be 100% at fault.
- Lost opportunities due to injuries. Opportunities that you would have otherwise been able to explore affect your quality of life.
- Impact of your injuries on future earnings. If you are no longer to earn at the level you did before the accident due to your injuries, this will usually be considered.
Depending on who is determined to be at fault, you may be able to seek compensation from:
- The driver’s insurance policy. If the driver was determined to be at least partially at fault, you may be able to seek compensation through his or her insurance company.
- Your own insurance policy. California requires that UM/UIM liability coverage be at least $30,000 for each injured person and $60,000 for multiple injured people all in the same accident. Your policy’s limits may be higher, if you elected to purchase additional coverage.
- The city or town. In rare cases, the city or town may be determined to be at fault in an accident if the layout of the streets, placement of the crosswalk or failure of traffic devices, such as stop signs and traffic lights contributed to the accident.
- The driver. If the combination of the driver’s insurance and your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not enough to compensate for the extent of your injuries and the driver has significant resources, you may be able to file a lawsuit against him or her directly.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, having an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer on your side can bring you peace of mind. He or she will guide you through the process, answering all of your questions and letting you know what steps to take next.
An experienced pedestrian accident attorney will:
- Evaluate your claim and advise you on the best course of action. Your attorney will make a full investigation of your accident to determine the best strategy.
- Help determine fault. Other parties may be predisposed to assigning you more fault than is fair. Your attorney will advocate for you to ensure that all factors are taken into consideration and you are not taking the blame for the actions of others.
- Determine damages. Without your attorney’s assistance, you would be at the mercy of insurance company valuations, which may be considerably less than is fair.
- Mediate with insurance companies. Insurance companies usually try to offer victims less money than they deserve. Their goal is to pay the lowest settlement possible, while avoiding costly court proceedings. They often contact individuals directly to try to get an admission of fault or try to find a discrepancy in their story so that they can move to dismiss the case. Having an attorney to act as your mediator puts a barrier between the insurance companies and you, protecting you from falling into traps that may jeopardize your claim.
- File all of the paperwork. In one study, researchers identified almost 200 discrete tasks that self-represented litigants need to perform in civil cases. This includes items such as interpreting the law, filing motions, compiling evidence and negotiating a settlement. Some tasks are impossible to perform without specialized knowledge of the legal system. Many require the ability to go to the courthouse in person, taking time away from work and/or childcare. Failure to meet required deadlines may result in long delays.
- Make sure that your actions are in your best interest. The law is very complex. If you don’t understand the intricacies of how the system works, you may end up taking action that may negatively affect your compensation.
With over 50 years of experience, the Century Park Law Group pedestrian accident lawyers have the expertise to handle your case. We purposely keep our caseload manageable so that we can offer each and every one of our clients the personal attention that they deserve.