Pedestrian accidents are defined as those personal injury accidents when a pedestrian, an individual walking on foot or in a wheelchair is hit by a vehicle. The collision between the two parties can take place on a crossing, a sidewalk, the road or just near a road. The manner in which the accident took place is important because this type of accident will be largely based on showing that the defendant, the driver of the vehicle, was negligent and thus entered into a collision with the pedestrian.
These types of accidents have a much higher frequency in large cities in California, like Los Angeles. In these high traffic areas, many people use cars or trucks to get around and pedestrian accidents can happen on sidewalks, intersections or even on pedestrian crosswalks. One of the most exposed categories of pedestrians includes young children and elderly people.
If you or a relative were involved in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, you are entitled as any other participant to traffic to seek compensation for your personal injuries and that is why it is necessary to contact a Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney.
Some of the most important elements in a pedestrian accident include the following:
the driver’s duty of care: the driver should have had a reasonable duty of care towards the pedestrian and failure to do so will be seen as negligence and used against him.
the pedestrian’s duty of care: while in most cases the driver is the one with the highest degree of contributory negligence, the plaintiff can also be found at fault of, for example, he was crossing in an unpermitted place.
special circumstances: in some rare cases, the accident may have occurred as a result of a third party’s negligence, for example improperly signaled hazardous road conditions
damages: the settlement in each personal injury case will be based on a number of damages, starting with the medical care and including lost wages, property damage and even compensation for pain and suffering, when the accident was especially traumatic.
Pedestrians involved in accidents
Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are among the most populated cities in California and the incidence of pedestrian accidents is much higher there. Most accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians occur in urban areas, where people walk, jog or use skateboards or rollerblades to move through the city. Pedestrian accidents have one of the highest potentials for serious or fatal injuries.
Speeding is one of the most important contributing factors in pedestrian accidents in California. At a high speed, the vehicle owner is less likely to avoid an impact that can result in serious personal injuries to the pedestrians. An individual involved in such an accident can sustain very serious personal injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, coma or fractured bones. In these cases, a police report is usually drawn up and, although not mandatory for court proceedings, it can be extremely useful for the plaintiff to build a solid case against the defendant. An experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney will be able to obtain the highest amount of compensations possible, especially in a case in which the victim has suffered extensive injuries.
According to theCalifornia Office of Traffic Safety, most pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles occur while drunk driving and most of these drivers are between 21 and 34 years of age. Most victims are pedestrians under the age of 15, followed by those over the age of 65. Accidents involving bicyclists are also common. According to the same source, the collision is most likely to occur while speeding and most of these cases are a hit and run.
If you are hit by a vehicle, the injuries can be severe. Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys highlight some of the steps that are crucial immediately after the accident:
If you are able, call 911 immediately and report the accident to the police; if you are lucky enough to receive help from other traffic participants, try to move as little as possible in order to avoid aggravating any injuries until medical help arrives;
If able, try to speak to other people, gather contact information from bystanders such as the license plate number (especially in hit and run cases);
Take photographs or ask for help to photograph the road, any marks, the offender’s vehicle and your injuries;
Do not admit fault and to not make assumptions when talking to the police officer who arrives on the scene;
Refrain from giving any statements to insurance company representatives;
Reach out to a specialist, such as our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney, and discuss your next steps.
California pedestrian accident law, presented by our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney
If you or someone in your family has been involved in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, it is important to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. He or she will be able to help you obtain the rightful compensations and will be able to deal with other issues like talking to the insurance company.
In California, the Vehicle Code stipulates that cars must yield to pedestrians walking in designated crossroads and in other areas. In almost all situations, pedestrians have the legal right to proceed before others in these particular places. When pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles take place in areas where pedestrians have priority, the vehicle driver can most likely be accused of negligence.
Some of the key issues described in the California Vehicle Code concerning pedestrians and the rules of the road are exemplified below:
the right of way: drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are crossing a marker crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except otherwise provided;
the pedestrian still has a duty of care to cross by ensuring his or her own safety;
the pedestrian cannot leave the curb immediately and run or walk into the path of a vehicle so that this becomes an immediate hazard;
pedestrians may not stop or delay traffic unnecessarily in marked or unmarked crosswalks;
the driver who is approaching a pedestrian in a marked or unmarked crosswalk is required to exercise due care and reduce speed or take another action as necessary to safeguard the wellbeing of the pedestrian.
The California Vehicle Code also sets forth the obligations in a hit and run case: the defendant is punishable for not stopping and identifying himself at the scene of a pedestrian accident and can be charged with a felony. If there were no victims, the driver is still liable to identification, but in this case, he is only punishable by a misdemeanor charge. The penalties for serious injury or even death is punishable by 1, 2, 3 or 4 years in the state prison or county jail and a fine that can vary, according to the California Vehicle Code.
Plaintiffs should know that they can be compensated for their losses in a vehicle accident and not just the ones related to property damage or medical treatment. The special damages are those that include these elements that can be easily added up but there is another category of damages, the general ones that include compensation for pain and suffering. It is important to discuss with your lawyer if you can qualify for these types of damages.
Our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney will help you make a solid case and will help you obtain compensations for your medical needs that arise immediately after the accident and also for any other future medical treatments that come as a result of the accident. Our experienced lawyers are able to obtain the maximum amount of gross proceeds for you and your family.
The importance of evidence in pedestrian accidents
The evidence is very important when proving a pedestrian accident that took place in Los Angeles or in another Californian city. It can be used both for negotiating with the insurance company and in court if you decide to take legal action against the defendant.
The list below includes examples of useful evidence, along with a short description of how it can be used:
police reports: the official police report once it’s been issued by the authorities is an important piece of evidence
eyewitness statements: the official statements of individuals who have witnessed the accident can be used as testimony
pictures or videos of the accident: this includes pictures and/or videos and also dashboard camera videos, if available
medical records: the official medical report issued after you were admitted to the hospital; it links the injuries to the accident
expert witnesses testimonies: a testimony offered especially for the case by an expert witness – an individual with special knowledge in a certain relevant field
Wrongful death cases will also rely on helpful evidence for proving who was at fault for the accident. If someone you love died as a result of a pedestrian accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you make your claim.
Each accident is different and it is important to consider the particularities of a case. This may include if the driver was drunk or driving under the influence of drugs or even if he was talking on the phone while driving – an action strictly prohibited in California.
One special category includes hit and run cases. The driver has the duty to stop at the scene of an accident. Failure to do so will result in imprisonment and/or a fine. The help offered by one of our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorneys can be especially important in these cases when you might not know how to begin claiming your rightful compensation.
Proving negligence in pedestrian accidents
While it is usually clear to determine if the pedestrian was the victim of a speeding or drunk driver, in some cases negligence will also be determined according to the pedestrian’s actions. An important consideration arises if the individual was jaywalking or if he was distracted. In pedestrian accidents that involve children, the defense will also look at how or if the child was supervised at the time of the accident.
The usual statute of limitations for pedestrian accidents is two years from the date of the injury. In cases that involve government entities, the period is shorter and a Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney can help you deal with the different requirements in this case.
Types of compensations for pedestrians injured in an accident
In order to obtain compensations for pedestrian accidents that take place in Los Angeles, the victims will need to be able to formulate a claim and ask for a settlement amount that will cover their losses. The types of damages commonly in the settlement amount included are the following:
medical expenses: the costs resulted as a direct consequence of the accident, incurred immediately after the collision took place;
future medical expenses: those medical procedures performed some time after the accident but which are in direct relation to it.
lost wages: the wage percentage lost by the victim because of an inability to work after the accident; can also include future wage losses.
property damage: damage to personal property as a result of the accident and only because of it.
A percentage calculator can help victims calculate the compensation amount, however, it does not substitute professional legal advice according to case particularities.
Our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorneys invite you to watch an informative video about these types of accidents:
Claim compensations with the help of our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney
Asserting your rights and whether or not you were also to blame for the accident (for example in jaywalking cases) cannot be performed without the help of a Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney.
Despite official efforts to increase pedestrian safety, namely Vision Zero, Los Angeles County’s project to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2035, the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths has continued. Despite a slight reduction in the number of deaths attributed to traffic accidents, the Vision Zero project has failed its initial stage by not reducing the fatalities enough to claim that it will eliminate them completely by the target year.
Some statistics show the following:
there were 246 deaths in 2017 in Los Angeles County;
in 2018 this number was lower, at 242 people, out of which 127 were walking and 21 were on bicycles;
by comparison, the same project commenced in new York in January 2014 (while in Los Angeles it commenced in August 2015) and after five years deaths have reached a 33% decline in New York.
According to statistics made available in the second half of 2019, West Hollywood and Venice are two of the areas where most of the pedestrian accidents take place. The data, presented by our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney, shows the following:
all crashes in Venice: 257;
pedestrian crashes: 54;
pedestrians killed: 1
pedestrians injured: 52;
rate of pedestrian crashes to all other crashes: 21%.
In West Lake, the data available at the time showed that there were 114 pedestrian crashes, out of which 4 were killed and 112 were injured. The same rate of pedestrian crashes to all crashes applied as in Venice. Harvard Heights and East Hollywood were also areas with significant numbers in terms of pedestrian personal injury accidents. The data was provided by the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.
In some cases, fatalities are also found to be the fault of the pedestrian. Those who are injured on the crosswalk, or in other conditions, can reach out to our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney for complete information on how the fault of the pedestrian is determined and how your case is treated if it is true that you, as the pedestrian, are also found at fault.
The LA Transport Department is making efforts to implement changed in approximately 40 streets where a large percentage of the traffic deaths and severe injuries occur in LA. Some 1,080 street changes took place in 2017 and 289 occurred in 2018. The timing on traffic signals changed and crosswalks were newly painted. Plastic posts were also installed on street corners to make drivers slow down.
All of these changes show that projects such as Vision Zero can be successful, however, change takes time and in some cases it is not straightforward.
As a pedestrian, you have the right to claim compensation for your injuries. In severe cases we highly recommend reaching out to one of our attorneys for detailed information on how you can file a personal injury claim.
Marc Y. Lazo is specialized in personal injury cases as well as in complex business and commercial litigation. He has tried numerous cases to successful verdict and has obtained multiple six-figure judgments in both state and federal court.