Pedestrian accidents have increased in California in the recent past due to the high population and congestion. Many visitors visit because of great weather favorable experience outdoor activities all year round. The weather makes it ideal for taking walks either for leisure or for exercise purposes. Even though walking is statistically safer than driving and less stressful when it comes to traffic jams, you could be involved in a catastrophic accident.
Pedestrian accidents are severe, especially when you are hit directly, unlike the motorist protected by the cars’ body. When you or your loved one sustains catastrophic pedestrian injuries due to another person’s negligence, you should hire a personal injury attorney to represent you and ensure that you receive compensation for the damages received. Contact Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney for efficient legal counsel. We also represent your interests to ensure that you receive fair and full compensation for the damages you incur.
Who is a Pedestrian Per California Law?
A pedestrian is a person who walks, uses a hoverboard, skateboard, roller skates, a wheelchair, tricycle, or any other device that is not considered a standard bicycle.
Definition of Pedestrian Catastrophic accidents
Pedestrian catastrophic accidents will leave you or your loved one with serious injuries that might have permanent damages. These injuries will permanently affect the quality of your life and in a manner that will make it difficult to carry on with your regular life. A catastrophic accident may affect your ability to work in your current job or any future work endeavors. Some of the most severe injuries that you might suffer from or after a pedestrian accident include:
Sometimes the impact of the accident might throw you as the pedestrian off, and you might fall on sharp objects that might injure you severely and cause the pedestrian to lose a limb. In other instances, your doctor could recommend amputation.
Internal organ damage
Internal organ damage usually affects the lungs, liver, heart, or kidneys. Most of these effects will permanently affect your life by altering your body’s ability to function biologically well.
Spinal injuries occur when you are hit by a moving car, some of these injuries are temporary, and you can heal and go back to your everyday life with proper treatment and rehabilitation. Other injuries have severe effects where you may suffer permanent damages like partial or total paralysis from the accident.
Traumatic Brain injuries
These injuries occur when you receive a strong blow to your head when a moving car hits you. One of the symptoms of a head injury is swelling, indicating a bruise in the skull.
Road rash occurs when you are hit by a vehicle, and you end up on the pavement or the crosswalk where a part of your body gets the rash. It is not a major injury but can be very painful with serious skin damage.
Where Does Catastrophic Pedestrian Accident Take Place?
These catastrophic accidents take place mostly on busy intersections, parking lots, on crosswalks, while one is alighting from a bus while jogging along a sidewalk, or even when one is in a non-intersectional zone crossing the street.
Reasons why Catastrophicdriver’s behavior Pedestrian Happens
In Los Angeles, several factors increase the likelihood of pedestrian accidents. Due to the high population in Los Angeles, with over 40,000 or more vehicles passing through the city’s intersection, a pedestrian accident’s probability is very high. Several factors contribute to pedestrian accidents; these factors include:
Distracted road users
One of the major causes of pedestrian accidents is the increasing number of people using their smartphones while walking or driving. If one of the drivers is drinking, smoking, texting, and eating, this could lead to them not noticing a pedestrian on the road. At intersections, a slight distraction can lead to a lot of damage caused by the vehicles’ collisions.
Most intersections have more than three lanes with the vehicles traveling abreast, with some crosswalks spanning six lanes. With such great numbers of motor vehicles traveling simultaneously, it means that a small distraction can cause a catastrophic accident.According to the University of California Transportation Study, every increase in a traffic lane increases pedestrians’ probability of being hit by a car.
Speeding is one factor that contributes significantly to motor vehicle accidents in California. When you drive above the recommended speed limit of a given area, you increase your chances of being involved in an accident. Speeding increases your chances of getting injured or injuring others. When you drive at high speed, you do not get enough time to slow down and avoid hitting a pedestrian or any other object on the road when they crop suddenly in your line of vision.
Failure to give Pedestrian the Right of way
Most crosswalks in Los Angeles are marked, but few are not marked. Pedestrians are guaranteed right of way at crosswalks by California’s crosswalk laws whether the crosswalk is marked or not, even if the crosswalk light is not in use.
In most cases, drivers who fail to give way fail to see the pedestrians, especially when they are making a left turn. This is because most drivers are looking at their right side when the accident takes place.
What is a Pedestrian Right of Way?
In California, the law allows a pedestrian to have the right of way. This law states that:
- Drivers are not allowed to drive on the sidewalk unless they need to cross the street.
- Drivers are expected to give pedestrians the right of the way even when the pedestrian is not following the traffic laws correctly. The pedestrian is, however, expected to obey the laid down traffic laws.
- A pedestrian always has the right of way, whether the crosswalk is marked or not.
- A blind person must always be allowed to enter a crosswalk if they indicate with their walking cane. The motorist must wait for the blind person to signal with their cane for them to proceed.
- A motorist must always slow down and be ready to stop every time they come across an intersection.
- Drivers should stop at a crosswalk and let the pedestrian cross safely.
Disregarding Traffic Signals
Some drivers disobey traffic rules and end up hitting pedestrians when they run the stop signs and other traffic signals. Studies show that about 17% of accidents happen when a driver runs a stop sign in an intersection. Some drivers stop at stop signs, but they fail to see pedestrians and fail to yield the right of way.
Disregarding Traffic Conditions
According to California traffic laws, a driver is expected to have a duty to drive at a “prudent” speed regardless of the area’s posted speed limit. This translates to you as a driver determining the safe speed to travel at considering certain conditions like the traffic and weather.
When a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their ability to drive a motor vehicle safely is degraded, whether one is deemed legally impaired or not. Alcohol and drugs can impair a driver's ability to react in time when they come across a road hazard, and they might end up crashing with pedestrians as the casualties.
Failure To Signal when Turning
According to California’s law, a pedestrian has the duty of protecting themselves. They can do this by always using the available crosswalks, walking on the streets’ recommended sides, and following the traffic laws. If a driver turns at an intersection without turning their turn signals on and hitting a pedestrian who steps on the crosswalk, the driver is at fault and will be held liable for the accident.
What You Should Do After a Pedestrian Accident
When you are involved in a pedestrian accident, the most important thing is to ensure your safety. Whether the injury you receive is severe or you feel fine, it is important to do the following :
- Seek Safety: If your injuries allow you, move to a safe place like a sidewalk. Try as much as possible not to vent to the driver who hit you, be calm and collected.
- Seek medical attention immediately: pedestrian accidents can be fatal and cause severe injuries. If you can call 911 to receive emergency medical attention, sometimes you might feel fine after the accident. Still, it is prudent to seek medical attention immediately as you might have sustained internal injuries that might exhibit their symptoms later. When you receive proper medical care and on time, you will be on the road to proper recovery. If you do not seek medical treatment immediately, you might end up with permanent injuries like paralysis, and it could prove hard to make a claim later on.
- Contact the police: make sure that you contact the police by calling 911 after being involved in a pedestrian accident. Ensure that you inform the police of the accident, even if your injuries seem to be minor or non-existent. Some minor injuries might turn out to be serious later on. Do not leave the accident scene until the state highway patrol or the police show up. In most cases, traffic police usually show up on the accident scene, but if they don’t show up, make a point of contacting them and file your report.
When the police arrive, ensure that you describe the accident with as many details as you can remember. Obtain the police officer’s name at the accident scene, and after you record your statement, request a copy of the report for future reference. Your injury attorney may use this report to build your case when filing for compensation.
Request the driver who hit you to wait for the police; sometimes, the driver might decide to leave the accident site, especially if you seem uninjured. Try to convince them to wait for the police to arrive if they refuse to ensure that you take a photo of their vehicle. If you suffer a hit and run accident, your auto insurance should cover you if you have the cover.
- Gather information: if you are not badly hurt, you can gather the following information, which will be of great use to your injury attorney later on when they make your claim. But if you are badly injured, have someone assist you in doing the following:
- Collect the parties’ contact information. This information includes the name of the driver involved, the driver’s ID, driver’s license, the vehicle’s license plate, and their insurance details. Also, get the witnesses’ contact information if there were any at the accident site when the accident took place.
- Take photos of the accident scene from different angles, and take photos of your injuries.
- Record keeping; ensure you keep all the records that involve the accident, from the police statements to medical records that are inclusive of all the treatment obtained, any lab results, scan results, dental results, and rehabilitative reports. Your records should also include any workdays lost or the lost classes if you are a student. These records assist your attorneys when they are calculating your compensation.
- Please make contact with the driver’s insurance company: although it is the driver’s responsibility who hit you to report the accident to their insurance providers, most of them do not. Contact their insurance provider and inform them of your accident, where it took place, the day, and specific time. When you contact the insurance company, please do not discuss the extent of your injuries or any other details with them. You are only notifying them of the accident if it is possible to let your attorney take this responsibility.
- Contact a personal injury attorney; let the attorney contact your insurance provider and advice you on the best course of action to take.
Liability in Catastrophic Pedestrian Accidents
Most pedestrian accidents occur when a pedestrian is hit by a motor vehicle; in these instances, it is easier to determine who caused the accident. For a pedestrian to sue the driver for the damages they suffer, they need to prove the following:
- The driver had a duty of care for the pedestrian.
- The driver was negligent when they did not keep a duty of care to the pedestrian.
- The pedestrian received injuries due to the driver’s negligence.
In the real sense, every road user has a duty of care towards other road users; this means that every person on the road, be a driver or a pedestrian, can keep other road users safe and maintain road safety.
Sometimes pedestrian accidents happen without involving any motorist; some of these instances are when a pedestrian is knocked down by:
- Someone riding bikes on the sidewalk,
- Uncontrolled dogs
- Other pedestrians,
- Electric scooter accidents,
- Sidewalk skateboarding,
At other times a pedestrian might trip and fall, thereby injuring themselves from the fall. Then the pedestrian can sue the property owner for the fall and claim for compensation. Californian law states that property owners must keep their properties in a reasonably safe condition. This means that the property owner must keep the sidewalks and other areas where pedestrians use reasonably safe. For a pedestrian to sue for premise liability, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The property was owned, controlled, or occupied by the defendant.
- The property owner was negligent in maintaining the safety of the property.
- The pedestrian was injured due to this negligence.
- The property owner’s negligence played an important role in the pedestrian’s accident.
Can You File for Punitive Damages After a Pedestrian Accident?
Sometimes, you might suffer severe bodily harm from a pedestrian accident due to the driver’s extreme and malicious behavior. In these instances, you can sue for punitive damages under California civil code 3294.
According to California’s law, Punitive damages are based on the behavior of the driver who caused the accident and not on the losses incurred by the pedestrian. If you can prove that the driver acted recklessly and that they intended to cause harm, the court may award you punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages.
When you file for punitive damages, the law will not look to compensate you for your losses but punish the wrongdoers and set an example to discourage other drivers from committing such crimes.
Compensation in Catastrophic Pedestrian Accidents
When you are involved in a pedestrian accident, whether your injuries are minor or severely hurt, you deserve fair and full compensation. The challenging part is obtaining compensation. Most insurance companies will make it difficult to attain compensation. The best thing you can do is hire a personal injury attorney, who will follow the insurance companies to ensure that you receive your full compensation and on time.
When you incur injuries as a pedestrian due to someone’s negligence, you have the opportunity to file for a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will understand the insurance companies’ loopholes to evade paying the full compensation. Also, they will work hard to ensure that you receive all the available benefits.
Your attorney should file for the following benefits from the insurance company:
- Have your current and even the future medical bills paid,
- Have your current income reimbursed and ensure that you are well compensated for any future loss of income,
- They will ensure your life partner is well compensated for the loss of consortium,
- They will ensure you receive compensation that will make life after the accident normal,
- Ensure you get well compensated if you lose your limb during or after the accident.
- Ensure that you receive proper counseling,
- Have your primary caregiver reimbursed for their loss of income when taking care of you.
What Happens When a Pedestrian Dies As a Result of the Accident?
Unfortunately, sometimes one might lose a loved one in a pedestrian accident. When such an occurrence happens, the surviving spouse or family members can seek wrongful death compensation if their loved one’s cause of death was a driver’s negligence.
The family members could seek compensation from the driver’s insurance company even if their loved one were partly to blame for the accident that led to their demise. They will need to hire a personal injury attorney who will prove that the driver had partial blame in the accident. There is no pedestrian accident where the driver is completely blameless.
Your attorney should file for a wrongful death claim which will allow your family to seek compensation after the death of your loved one; the lawsuit will cover the following:
- Compensation for the lost income that the deceased would have earned if they had not met the accident leading to their death,
- funeral and burial expenses incurred,
- Compensation for loss of support and companionship for the loved ones left behind.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Catastrophic pedestrian accidents cause severe bodily harm, which requires finances to treat. These injuries also have life-altering effects on you and your loved ones. Once the accident has incapacitated you, you will lose your source of income.
Due to the seriousness of the situation, you need to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. Your attorney understands your pain and the laws governing pedestrian accidents. At Los Angeles Car accident Attorney Law Firm, we have personal injury attorneys who have successfully helped pedestrian accident clients make successful claims. With our pedestrian accident lawsuit experience, we will ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us at 424-237-3600 and let our experienced attorneys advise you on the best course of action to take.