Every year, many pedestrians in California die or sustain severe injuries because of pedestrian accidents. This happens because California is among the highly populated states in the United States. The odds of dying because of a pedestrian accident are 1 in 106 in California. Many factors contribute to pedestrian accidents like alcohol use, driver inattention, poor lighting, pedestrian location, and pedestrian age. Pedestrian accidents often happen on the streets, crosswalks, intersections, and sidewalks. Many people prefer running, skateboarding, jogging or walking to avoid traffic and parking challenges. If you suffer a pedestrian accident, the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can help you seek compensation.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
The issue of pedestrian accidents and fatalities in California has persisted over time. California roads are always busy with people walking to work, going shopping, going to school, or strolling for exercise or fun. In an era where medics promote walking as a healthy alternative to driving, the roads are always busy with pedestrians. In 2018, 893 pedestrians died on California roadways. This number was an increase of 26% from 2014.
More than 14,000 pedestrians suffered injuries on California roadways in 2018. Between 2009 and 2018, more than 7,500 pedestrians have died in California through pedestrian accidents. Compared to the national average, the pedestrian fatality rate in California was almost 25% higher. Of all the states in the U.S, California has the highest pedestrian fatalities. To enhance pedestrians' safety, vehicle drivers and pedestrians have to work together and demonstrate safe behaviors on the roads.
A report recently released by the NHTSA revealed the dangers of the people walking or biking on the U.S streets. For instance, more pedestrians and cyclists died in the U.S. in 2017 more than in the previous year. NHTSA noted in 2018 that the pedestrian fatalities increased by 4 percent nationally. In 2017, California ranked as the 16th most dangerous state for people walking. This is well above the national average.
The severity of pedestrian accidents in California has increased due to the shift from passenger vehicles' purchase to light trucks. In a pedestrian accident, light trucks cause more severe pedestrian accidents with more impacts than light vehicles. Though many pedestrian accidents involve passenger vehicles, pedestrian accidents involving SUVs increased by 30% between 2013 and 2017.
The increase in pedestrian accidents is also linked to population growth in California and other states across the U.S. The growth in smartphone use has also led to the rise in pedestrian accidents and deaths in California.
Leading Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in California
Walking on foot might be a healthier and wiser option in California, but it's not always safe. Pedestrian accidents have been increasing steadily with 2016 and 2017 being the deadliest years since 1990. Although drivers are often liable for most pedestrian accidents, there are other leading causes of accidents. These include:
Although ideal against noise pollution, battery-operated vehicles are more likely to knock down pedestrians. Those pedestrians who detect on-coming vehicles through ears are prone to this type of vehicle accident. The risk of a pedestrian accident increases in residential areas, and in these areas, turns and stops are frequent.
High-speed roadways and multi-lanes are increasingly essential, moving people to and from the freeway due to California's high population. Unfortunately, these roads are dangerous to the overpopulated state where car stops are numerous, and walking is common. In California, the majority of pedestrian accidents occur on these roadways.
Between 2008 and 2017, vehicle drivers in the US hit and killed 49,340 people. This shows that 13 people died every day and one person died every 46 minutes. Most pedestrian accidents occur at night, and on the weekends. When the sun sets, light-colored and bright clothes are visible, and they are essential on poor street lighting with less populated stretches. For night prowling, pocket flashlights are also crucial. Pedestrians with dark clothes are not visible at night, and cars can easily knock them down.
The risk of pedestrian accidents in California increases by alcohol consumption among pedestrians and vehicle drivers. More often, pedestrian accidents in California happen on the weekends and at night since most people relax by consuming alcohol during this time. Most pedestrians knocked down by vehicles on weekends or at night typically have traces of alcohol in the body. As a pedestrian, you are partially to blame for an accident if you are found drunk at the time of the accident. However, under California law, you are entitled to compensation even if you are partially to blame for the pedestrian accident. You may still be eligible for compensation less your level of liability.
On the other hand, when the driver drinks and drives, they could be held responsible for the accident due to negligence. If the driver drives under alcohol influence, they cannot make the right judgment on the road. The driver may not detect pedestrians' presence on the road if they are drunk, leading to an accident.
Unmarked or Poorly Marked Crosswalks
Crosswalks with good signage can significantly reduce pedestrian accidents. In California, most pedestrian accidents happen at intersections. It may be difficult for drivers and pedestrians to determine when to cross if the crosswalks are unmarked or poorly marked. It can be easy for pedestrians and drivers to judge such areas and avoid accidents if the crosswalks are marked. Marked crosswalks also help the drivers to focus and be more attentive. The driver may cause a pedestrian accident while seeking parking space and a pathway if the crosswalk is unmarked.
Lack of Sidewalks
Sidewalks are essential as they enhance safe foot traffic since there will be a safe distance between vehicle traffic and pedestrians. Pedestrians are at risk of accidents if there are no sidewalk places. A vehicle may knock down a pedestrian who is jogging or walking on the roadside. In California, most pedestrian accidents happen in areas without sidewalks. In such cases, authorities are partially responsible for these pedestrian accidents because they fail to construct pedestrian sidewalks.
Use of Phones or Electronics
The use of phones by pedestrians and drivers while on the road may cause an accident. Both the pedestrian and the driver may be liable if an accident occurs due to the phones' use. It's very dangerous for the driver to use the phone while driving or adjusting a vehicle's radio. The driver may knock down a pedestrian while adjusting the radio in their car, since they may not notice pedestrians. The driver may also be reading a text on the phone, making him or her unaware of the pedestrians nearby. When a pedestrian listens to news or music on his or her phone through earphones, he or she may cause an accident. The pedestrian may not hear the approaching vehicle, and they may not know their surroundings with earphones on.
Poor weather conditions are likely to cause pedestrian accidents. Pedestrian accidents may happen in extreme weather conditions if the driver does not slow down safely. Snowy or rainy weather conditions may increase the risk of an accident. It may also be problematic during rain or fog for the driver to see a pedestrian. Rain seasons may also increase accidents because of slick or slippery roadways. When the driver spots a pedestrian while it's raining, he or she may not be able to slow down promptly because of the slippery road.
Disregarding Traffic Signals
If the driver disregards traffic signals and signs, they are likely to cause a pedestrian accident. In California, all drivers are required by the law to observe traffic signals. The driver may face the charges if they failed to adhere to the traffic signals and cause the accident.
As a pedestrian, you may not be under any immunity against the accident, even if a crosswalk has visible signals. Left-hand turn areas are black spots for pedestrian accidents compared to right-hand turn areas. The pedestrians often walk while facing straight ahead at these intersections. On the other hand, the drivers may try to negotiate the intersection and fail to notice pedestrians. Therefore, the accident may occur since both the driver and pedestrian may not be aware of each other's presence.
In California, back-up accidents often happen due to drivers' negligence. However, pedestrian negligence may also cause an accident. This could occur if the pedestrian consumes alcohol or engages in distracted walking. Amidst heavy traffic, while backing-up in the parking lots, the driver may easily cause a pedestrian accident. Fatal pedestrian accidents often happen in residential stretches. In the residential areas, a vehicle owner may back-up his or her vehicle over a pedestrian.
Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents
When a pedestrian accident happens, often, the victims suffer various injuries. In 2018, more than 14,000 pedestrians suffered injuries in accidents in California. Some of the common injuries include:
After your involvement in a pedestrian accident, some of the common internal injuries you may suffer are punctured lungs, kidney damage, liver lacerations, and internal bleeding. Internal injuries may occur when your body absorbs the impact and the forces of a pedestrian accident. If you don't seek immediate treatment, internal injuries could become more severe.
When a car hits you from behind, you may fall directly on the road or any object near the road. Often, the victims of pedestrian accidents suffer broken bones because of the accident's impact. The impact could cause fractures ranging from a broken bone to complex crushing injuries. Broken bones may lead to permanent disability since it may require extensive surgery to correct.
Head and Spinal cord injuries
After your involvement in a pedestrian accident, you may experience blunt force trauma. Often, this trauma causes spinal cord injuries, whiplash, and severe traumatic brain injuries. This is because most pedestrian accidents involve severe trauma and extreme forces. These forces could make you knock your head anywhere in case the car hits you from behind. Head and spinal injuries could make you have a lifetime of permanent disability and paralysis. Traumatic brain injuries could cause the following effects:
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to form new memories
- Blurred vision
- Confusion causing anxiety or anger
- Concentration problems
- Ongoing or persistent headaches
Lacerations and Cuts
All cars have glass windows, and the smashing of these glasses could cause injuries on a pedestrian in an accident. A pedestrian could also suffer severe cuts from sharp metal benches. Lacerations and cuts could cause tissue damage and excessive blood loss. The effects could be worse if a cut becomes infected. A delay in treating an infected laceration could be more dangerous.
Why Pedestrian Accidents are Catastrophic in California
When a pedestrian accident occurs, pedestrians suffer catastrophic injuries and most of them succumb to the injuries. Pedestrian deaths rose by 26% between 2014 and 2018 in California. Some of the reasons why pedestrian accidents are catastrophic are:
In California, pedestrians who are knocked down by vehicles at the speed of 30mph or more die or sustain fatal injuries. The majority of pedestrian accident deaths occur in towns. Most drivers in towns drive at high speed to close a particular deal, get to work, or run errands. When a vehicle is moving at high speed, it isn't easy to control it. The driver may not be able to make a quick stop when he or she notices a pedestrian crossing a street. Over speeding increases the likelihood of a pedestrian accident and the severity of the injuries once a pedestrian accident happens. Urban areas and non-intersection locations are the black spots for the majority of pedestrian deaths in California.
In California, drivers are required to maintain a maximum speed of 30mph in business districts and residential areas. The California law prohibits drivers from driving at high speed in such areas.
Fatal pedestrian accidents happen at night because of poor visibility in California. Most pedestrian deaths happen when it is dark. Experts recommend engineering and enforcement measures because of the rising trend in nighttime pedestrian deaths. Some of the measures include better street lighting and nighttime patrols.
Most roads in California are high-speed highways instead of traditional clustered streets. This has become risky for pedestrians leading to catastrophic accidents. In California, most pedestrian accidents do not result in minor injuries. Instead, most of the accidents result in fatal injuries because of high-speed highways. However, there are efforts to enhance pedestrians' safety on the roads though it's still a long journey.
Liable Parties in a Pedestrian Accident
When a pedestrian accident happens, many people rush to blame the vehicle driver. It is worth noting that the driver may not be the only person liable for the accident. In a pedestrian accident, several parties could be responsible for the accident, and it could not be easy for you to identify who is at fault. Thorough investigations are needed after a pedestrian accident to identify the party responsibly. You will need an attorney to help you look into the factors contributing to the accident and identify the liable parties. More than one party could be liable for your accident, and every party will compensate you depending on their level of fault. Some of the parties that could be responsible in a pedestrian accident include:
In some cases, car manufacturers could be liable for pedestrian accidents. The car manufacturer could be liable for the accident if it happens due to defective vehicle parts. A wide range of mechanical failures could also cause a pedestrian accident. The mechanical failures include:
- Blown out or worn-out tires
- Brake failure
- Broken or defective vehicle lights
- Transmission failure
- Defective steering
A car manufacturer could be responsible for selling unsafe vehicles if the above failures are apparent and if the accident occurs. The car manufacturer should ensure that only safe vehicles are released into the market. If the car owner does not repair and maintain the car, the manufacturing company might not be responsible for the pedestrian accident in case it happens.
As a pedestrian, if you suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, your attorney should prove that the defect was apparent when the car was released into the market. Your attorney should also prove that the car manufacturer failed to warn the vehicle owner about the defect.
The Car Company
A pedestrian accident could happen due to the car company's failure to employ competent drivers. Car companies must ensure that they only hire drivers that are qualified. The car companies must carry out a thorough check on the background of the drivers before employing them. The car company could be responsible for the accident if your attorney can prove that the company exercised negligence while hiring the driver.
Frequent driver training is also an obligation of the car company. The car company should ensure that its drivers follow California's traffic rules. The company should also observe reasonable driver working hours because setting long hours and overstretching the drivers could make them cause pedestrian accidents.
The car companies must ensure proper maintenance and repair of their vehicles. They could be responsible for a pedestrian accident that occurs due to poor car maintenance. However, car companies often distance themselves from their drivers after a pedestrian accident. An experienced attorney will be able to look into the relationship between the car company and the driver. This will help him or her to determine the liable party to compensate you.
If a pedestrian accident happens, the driver is often responsible because of his or her negligence. If the driver engages in distracted driving, he or she could knock down a pedestrian. Talking on the phone, eating while driving, and texting on the phone are forms of distracted driving that could lead to a pedestrian accident.
If the pedestrian accident happens due to drug influence, the driver could be responsible. It's a crime for a car driver to drive with a BAC higher than 0.04% under California law. The standard DUI statute prohibits drivers from driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. However, a commercial vehicle driver could be responsible as long as their BAC was 0.04% or higher. The DUI laws in California are strict on drunk drivers, and any defendant could face severe penalties.
Fatigue could also make the driver cause a pedestrian accident. Fatigue may make the driver fall asleep while driving, and this could be a recipe for significant fatalities if an accident happens. This often happens with car company drivers who work beyond the recommended hours to meet their company's targets.
Parties Responsible for Car Maintenance and Repair
Some mechanics take contracts to maintain and repair other companies' vehicles. The mechanic could be responsible for the accident if it happens due to maintenance issues, yet the car had undergone routine maintenance. If the company responsible for inspecting cars fails to inspect the vehicle properly, and the accident happens, it could also be responsible.
Damages Available in a Pedestrian Accident
After involvement in a pedestrian accident, you will be able to claim certain damages with your attorney's help. Some of the damages available are:
- Medical costs – This is the cost incurred in seeking treatment for the injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident
- Lost Wages – This is compensation for lost income due to the time spent out of work after suffering injuries
- Loss of earning capacity – You may not be able to go back to work after suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident. You should therefore seek compensation for the loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering – You should seek compensation for the pain or the suffering you experience after an accident
- Loss of enjoyment in life – You may shy away from public places after suffering disfigurement and scarring in an accident. You might no longer feel motivated to take part in your hobbies and fun activities
- Loss of consortium – Your spouse may sue for the loss of companionship due to the injuries you sustain in a pedestrian accident
- Wrongful death compensation – If a victim succumbs to the injuries suffered in a pedestrian accident, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Near Me
After suffering catastrophic injuries in a pedestrian accident, your life may never be the same. You might incur hefty medical bills in seeking treatment for injuries sustained. You could also suffer a permanent disability that could subject you to a lifetime of physical therapy and nursing care. After an accident, you might spend time away from work as you seek treatment for your injuries. For you to recover the damages suffered in a pedestrian accident, you should seek the assistance of a competent pedestrian accident attorney. The Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney will analyze your case and help you claim the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 424-237-3600 and speak to one of our attorneys.