A pedestrian accident occurs when a motor vehicle crashes with a pedestrian, causing severe injuries or even death. Medical costs to treat your injuries might be steep. While recovery could be possible, the compensation amount is founded on the liable party. If you have been hurt in a pedestrian accident, call the knowledgeable legal team at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles. We can review the circumstances surrounding the claim, determine fault, and determine whether you have a valid claim against the defendant.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
A pedestrian is an individual on foot. It includes joggers and persons walking for transportation or leisure. It is worth noting that this doesn't include cyclists. A driver should keep a proper lookout for a pedestrian when driving.
Every year, many pedestrians in Los Angeles and throughout the United States are severely injured or killed following a traffic accident. In 2013, about four thousand seven hundred and thirty-five pedestrians died. This number of fatalities represented fourteen percent of total deaths that took place that year. California had the highest number of pedestrian deaths that year, with about seven hundred and one people dying.
Numerous factors cause pedestrian accidents. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seventy-three percent of all pedestrian accidents occur in the urban areas while sixty-nine percent occur at non-intersections. In 2013, there were 227 traffic-related deaths, and seventy-six pedestrians died in the city. Many accidents happen in low-light conditions, with seventy-two percent occurring at night.
Forty-nine percent of the reported pedestrian collisions were due to the influence of drugs or alcohol. Fifteen percent of fatal accidents involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08%.
Other causes of pedestrian accidents reported include motorists failing to stop at intersections, distracted driving, and improper lane changing.
How to Determine Fault
As a pedestrian traffic collision victim, you have a right to bring a personal injury claim seeking compensation for the losses incurred. You can bring the claim through your insurance company or that of the defendant. However, you cannot recover compensation if you can't establish the defendant's negligence caused your injuries. To present evidence that the responsible person did not act reasonably, you should prove that:
The Motorist had a Lawfully Duty of Care Toward You
Per Vehicle Code 21950 VC, motorists should yield the right of way to road users crossing the road. It includes pedestrians using unmarked and marked crosswalks. Moreover, the driver should exercise due care, lower their vehicle's speed, or take any step to safeguard all road users' safety. In other words, a motorist should drive to make sure the roadway is safe for all road users.
The Motorist Breached the Duty of Care
Did the driver live up to the duty of care? Did they act reasonably in the circumstances, resulting in the accident? If the motorist breached that duty, then their conduct is considered negligent. The term ''negligence'' means the motorist created a hazardous situation beyond the standard level of danger.
For instance, cars should stop at a red light. However, a negligent driver will run the red light, increasing the risk of a pedestrian collision.
Sometimes, it could be hard to establish that the duty of care was broken. There is a posted speed limit, and the motorist who injured you was adhering to the law. However, since the car driver should take action that ensures the pedestrian's safety, they could be found negligent if their car's speed wasn't safe for the pedestrians.
The Breach of Duty of Care Caused Injuries
You should also present evidence that the defendant's carelessness or negligence caused your injury. Proving this element can be difficult, and that's why you require an experienced personal injury lawyer. The attorney will use different strategies that show how the injuries are related to your collision.
You Incurred Losses Due to the Injuries
You might sustain life-altering and severe injuries when a car knocks you down. The crash could be traumatizing with mental, emotional, and physical damages. Consequently, you might receive compensation for medical expenses, wrongful death, loss of earning capacity, pain, and suffering, and lost wages. To recover the compensation you deserve, you ought to establish you suffered these damages due to another person's negligence.
Different Liable Parties in Pedestrian Car Accidents
The first step towards receiving the compensation you deserve is determining the responsible party. Please note, not every pedestrian-car accident is due to a negligent motorist. Your accident could be caused by:
Drivers should comply with traffic laws as well as exercise reasonable care. When a driver fails to act so, an accident might happen. Common ways that driver negligence causes accidents are:
- Distracted driving- When a driver is talking on their phone, eating, texting, drinking, or talking to passengers, their eyes, hands, and mind are off the wheel. This might cause an accident when a pedestrian with the right of way darts out in front of the driver.
- Speeding- Speeding not only violates traffic laws but also regarded as reckless driving. A pedestrian hit by a speeding car could sustain catastrophic injuries or even die as a result of the impact.
- Drunk driving- When a driver is drinking under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their driving skills, reaction time, judgment, and reasoning are impaired.
- Left-hand turn- Even when on a crosswalk, you risk being hit by a car turning left when the motorist's attention is on navigating the intersection instead of other road users.
- Failing to yield or stop
A Jogger on a Sidewalk
Many people use sidewalks to exercise. Although most joggers share the sidewalk with other road users, some are not considerate and could knock over pedestrians. If a jogger hits you, their force and speed could knock over you to the ground, causing severe injury.
Who is Responsible If You Trip on a Broken Sidewalk?
When pedestrian trips and falls on a broken sidewalk, icy area, or any other hazardous surface, the property owner could be accountable for the injuries suffered. Per premises liability laws, property owners and people occupying a property should keep the area reasonably safe. To recover compensation in this case, the plaintiff must prove the following:
- The liable party controlled, occupied or owned the property.
- The responsible person was negligent as far as maintenance and use of the property is concerned.
- The victim was injured.
- The liable party's negligence played a significant role in the plaintiff's injury
If the sidewalk belongs to the city, county, or municipal, you should file your claim against the government. The county, city, or town might have been aware of the hazardous condition but did not repair it. The government might have even known about previous accidents that injured residents.
Truck Drivers Driving Near a Sidewalk
Trucks have side mirrors that go beyond the vehicle's edge. When the bus pulls up to a bus stop, the side mirror can injure pedestrians standing at the sidewalk. A truck that pulls up fast could knock you over, resulting in severe harm, including head injuries.
The driver is trained in handling the truck and knowing where and how the side mirror extends. If the driver's carelessness causes your injuries, you can bring a claim for damages.
You can press charges against the truck driver's employer.
Individuals Who Fail to Share the Sidewalk
There are no laws about the right of way on sidewalks in California. Nevertheless, it is courteous to make room for other road users crossing in the opposite direction or stay to the right. Sometimes a group of obnoxious individuals or young people might refuse to yield to allow you to pass.
If these persons knock you over, they may be accountable for your injury. Nevertheless, it is the jury's discretion to determine negligence.
Cycling on a sidewalk can be hazardous to pedestrians. Typically, cycling on the sidewalk varies with different cities. While it is unlawful to cycle on the sidewalk in some cities of the Golden State, it is legal in others.
It is legal provided it is not executed with a willful disregard of the people or property's safety. You can recover compensation by establishing that:
- The biker was negligent because they rode too fast
- The biker tried to jump over your feet
In areas where riding on a sidewalk is not legal, a biker who causes a pedestrian accident could be negligence per se.
Uncontrolled Dog Owner
A dog owner who does not have control of their dog might be held accountable. A large dog could jump over a pedestrian, causing them to fall. Also, a dog on the loose might chase a pedestrian, causing him to fall. If you sustained injuries, the dog owner should be held responsible for their pet's conduct.
You can prove the dog owner's negligence by claiming that the dog owner knew or ought to have known their pet might be a threat to people and did not take reasonable steps to stop harm.
What Transpires If the Defendant Blames the Plaintiff for the Pedestrian Accident?
A driver can blame you for your pedestrian accident. The motorist could urge that you were not in a crosswalk. Nonetheless, just because you were not on the sidewalk doesn't imply the driver was not careless.
Should a driver blame you for the pedestrian collision, do not admit fault. Accident fault isn't necessarily clear, particularly if you're not aware of what transpired. It could cause you to foot your medical expenses.
Per comparative negligence rule, you will still receive compensation even if you are partially accountable for the collision. If at least one person caused the accident, the court apportions fault and compensation amount. In layman's language, your total compensation amount will be reduced by the portion of your accountability.
Methods for Proving Liability
In all pedestrian accidents, liability needs to be determined. Although it might seem obvious to you, your words are not enough when seeking compensation for the losses incurred. Insurance firms do not make huge payouts and will protect their bottom line at all costs. You should have a strong argument against the liable party. Here are practical methods for proving fault in the accident:
A police report is written documentation by police officers who responded to the 911 and came to the scene of the accident. Usually, the report has liability proof like the police opinion on how your pedestrian accident occurred and statements from the involved parties. Moreover, the police will state whether traffic laws were violated and a citation given indicating the at-fault party. A police report is a piece of essential evidence that you present to the insurance provider when filing your personal injury claim. The insurer will not take your side of the story. Therefore, when you give them the police report, chances are they will not deny your claim.
Traffic Laws Violation
If you were injured in a pedestrian-car accident and another person broke traffic laws, this is a great way to prove the other person was negligent. Common traffic violations that cause accidents include the following:
- Failing to yield
- Running a red light
- Running stop signals
Remember to include the law that the negligent individual broke when writing your police report. To find the law that applies to your accident, look at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Also, court and state government websites give references and links to the public concerning this information.
Be sure to give as many details about the violation when speaking with the police as possible. Do not exaggerate; this could lead to your case dismissal.
Your Accident Photos
Pictures from the accident scene can prove what caused the pedestrian accident and the degree of injuries sustained. They can also show details like posted traffic signals, skid marks, and who was there at the time of your accident.
An insurance adjuster can challenge your testimony during settlement negotiations, but photo proof is difficult to dispute.
On top of that, having pictures of the accident scene helps you recall what took place.
How to Take Photographs
Knowing what shots to obtain and what to include can help boost the usefulness and relevance of using photography in determining liability. Below are suggestions for getting the most accident evidence, you need to consider:
- Property damage photos - Property damages involve damages to vehicles involved, clothing, cellphones, road signals, and buildings. Also, capture images of debris and skid marks. Take images of the surrounding businesses. The businesses could have security cameras that took a video. Having the photos will assist you to recall to contact the enterprises.
- Your injuries photos - Take pictures of the injuries immediately after the accident. Injuries such as bruises don't manifest immediately but remember to document them once they appear.
- Document traffic signals - You might be wondering why capturing a traffic light or sign is essential? Knowing that a traffic sign was there when your pedestrian accident happened might be a clue in accident reconstruction. For example, an overgrown shrubbery at an intersection might make approaching cars or traffic signs more difficult to see. If you have a photo at the intersection where the road accident took place, it could mean the accountable motorist failed to yield. The shrubbery could be trimmed following the accident.
- Photos of witnesses, police, and the defendant - You might not remember people present at the accident scene. Taking photos can go a long way, especially when you or your attorney want to interview them.
- Capture photographs of the car involved - Take photographs of the model, make, license plate number, driver's name, driver's license, driver's registration details, and insurance.
- Ensure the date and time on the photographs are correct- If you're using a camera to capture your photos, ensure the correct time and date on the camera are correct. If you are using a cell phone, the time and date are stored in the photo's metadata.
If you are too injured to take the photos, request a person to do it on your behalf.
Suppose the responsible driver is disputing your accident injuries or liability. In that case, a witness plays a significant role in establishing the degree of your injuries and whether the defendant breached the duty of care.
It is because:
- A witness is neutral - The defendant's insurance provider might question your statement, thinking that it is driven by self-interest. You might also disagree with the defendant's statement thinking that they have tampered with case facts as a way to avoid pedestrian accident liability. A witness testimony can aid resolve conflicting issues. The witness was not hurt and had no interest in the case outcome. Therefore, their statement is objective and unbiased.
- Confirming facts - The results of a pedestrian accident depend on case facts. However, these facts can sometimes be hard to establish. Your accident might have occurred too fast that neither you nor the defendant is certain about what happened. A witness might have seen things that neither you nor the defendant observed or even confirm unclear details.
- Establishing fault - A witness might have seen the responsible motorist looking at their smartphone, speeding, eating, or running a red light. The statement will not only help you prove the driver was negligent but could assist you to prevail in your personal injury claim.
Medical records take the form of documentation about diagnostic tests and physical examinations conducted by the doctor who treated your injury. They establish a continuous course of treatment, starting from when your pedestrian accident occurred or when you first consulted the doctor. Your doctor's examination notes show the existence of the injuries. It also shows the connection between the injuries and the accident.
Medical evidence can include:
- Charts and notes from an occupational and physical therapist
- Lab analysis test
- Results from diagnostic tests like CT scans and x-rays
- Written reports from an emergency medical expert of your condition and medical attention offered at the accident scene
- Emergency department records
Expert Witness Testimony
An expert witness is different from an eye witness and is not present at the accident scene. They have expertise in a specific area due to either their training, experience or education. Your attorney will use expert witnesses to protect your rights and make sure you get the best possible settlement in your case.
The expert witness could be used in assisting resolve the valuation of damages and fault. Assume the defendant claims you are 30% accountable for the accident. Since California follows a comparative negligence rule, it could result in recovering seventy percent of your total damages. The expert witness will help you establish that you were not liable or less than what the insurer claims.
The expert will also assist you in proving your damages. The insurance firm might offer you an initial settlement that is way less than your claim's worth. The expert will help present evidence that you have significant damages like lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and future medical bills.
Injuries Sustained in a Pedestrian Accident
A pedestrian is at a disadvantage if they are involved in an accident, particularly with a motor vehicle. It is because the pedestrian is exposed and unprotected from impact with the car. Thus, the pedestrian often suffers from severe injuries like fractured bones, internal bleeding, spinal cord injury, nerve damage, cuts and lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and torn ligaments.
The seriousness of the injury sustained depends on factors like the car's speed, the body part injured, where the accident took place, and the car's design.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
The initial step of recovering compensation following a pedestrian accident is determining the at-fault party. However, determining fault is not always a clear-cut or straightforward process. Consequently, you should work with a team of legal experts who are acquainted with California pedestrian accident laws. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we can use medical records, witness testimonies, photographs, and police records to identify and prove liability in your accident. If you or your loved one has sustained injuries following an accident in Los Angeles, please contact us for a free case evaluation by calling 310-935-0089.