The incidences of pedestrians dying or sustaining severe injuries on California roads are bad and continue to grow worse. Every year thousands of pedestrians lose their lives while others suffer severe injuries due to pedestrian accidents.  The contributing factor to these accidents could be that pedestrians do not have any protection to shield them from the impact once an accident occurs. In this article, The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm will review pedestrian accident statistics in California and later look at what can be done to contain the rate at which pedestrian crashes occur.  

California Pedestrian Accident Statistics

As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, in 2014 alone, approximately 4884 pedestrians got killed in the United States traffic crashes. In the same year, about 150000 pedestrians sustained injuries and sought medical treatment. The 4884 pedestrian deaths arose from 4653 accidents, some of which resulted in the fatalities of two or more pedestrians. This number of deaths represented 15% of all traffic deaths that happened that year.

Out of all the states, California recorded the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in 2014, with about 700 pedestrians getting killed.  This number represented 23.4%of all road accident fatalities happening throughout the state in that year. As per the California Office of Traffic Safety report, 841 pedestrians were killed or injured in Orange County in that year.     

And in 2018, 893 pedestrians died on California roads, which represent a 26% rise from 2014. Over 14000 pedestrians sustained injuries in the same year. Close to 7500 pedestrians have been killed in California between 2009 and 2018. Compared to the national average, California pedestrian death rate is about 25% higher. No other state has recorded more pedestrian fatalities on its roads than California. This data is according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident Statistics

California leads in many aspects. However, there is one data it should not be pleased to lead, and that is its annual statistics of fatal hit & run pedestrian accidents.  In 2016, there were 2049 fatalities in the United States resulting from hit & run collisions, with 337 of these deaths taking place in California. 2016 is the latest year with available statistics, as per a report from AAA. It is the highest number California has ever recorded and a 60% increase from 2009. State-wise, California ranked number seven nationally as far as hit & run fatalities are concerned. AAA researchers studied common features of hit & run accidents nationwide and discovered that nearly 65% of the people that died in hit & run accidents were bicyclists or pedestrians, meaning the statistics in California were also high.

However, a few cities in California saw a decrease in these kinds of deaths. San Francisco, for instance, had twenty fatalities in the year 2017, the least number since the researchers began tracking these statistics.

2019 Study Reveals Pedestrians are at a Higher Risk of Injuries in California

In the past years, pedestrians have always faced the risk of getting killed or injured in crashes involving vehicles. However, the more recent researches have revealed that the risk that these pedestrians face has increased tremendously from 2013. A higher number of people on foot are being killed or injured in vehicle crashes.  Let us look at one latest research that puts California among the top twenty most unsafe states for pedestrians.

A recent study shows that the state of California ranks at number sixteen of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. Between the year 2008 and the year 2019, 7127 pedestrians were killed in California due to motor vehicle crashes. During this period, pedestrian deaths In the U.S rose by 34.5%.  However, the pedestrian death rate in California increased by 38.4% during the same time.

Approximately 14% of fatalities resulting from road accidents in the whole nation were walkers over a similar ten-year period.  In California State, 22% of fatalities resulting from road accidents were pedestrians. Putting the data into more perspective, road accident fatalities of vehicle occupants reduced by 6.1% during that same period.

Los Angeles Leads the State in the Number of Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities

LA has been ranked the riskiest place in California for a walker to be for two years consecutively.  As the LA Times reported, city Transportation Department officials released the latest data on 2017 road accident deaths, which revealed that pedestrian deaths had skyrocketed to the highest level in 15 years.

In 2017, we had 134 pedestrians dying in LA due to road accidents, which is an 80% increase from the seventy-four pedestrians that were killed in LA in 2015. This surge comes at a period when the city has been hyping its Vision Zero initiative that aims at eliminating traffic fatalities in LA by 2025. This initiative was implemented in the year 2015 and championed for traffic fatalities to be decreased by 20% by 2017. Whereas the overall traffic deaths did reduce by 6% in 2017, the increased number of pedestrian fatalities helped to make the 20% cut unattainable.

Nonetheless, the increase in pedestrian fatalities isn’t an issue that’s unique only to LA. The latest estimation from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) indicates that nationally, the pedestrian fatality rate in 2017 remained at its highest compared to how it has been in the last 25 years, at about 6000 deaths. Generally, the nation saw pedestrian deaths rise by 27% between 2007 and 2016.

In its report, GHSA states that there isn’t any reason as to why pedestrian-related fatalities are rising. Instead, this increase is because of a rare combination of factors. For instance, we have both several vehicles on the roadway, thanks to the lower prices of gas and a recovering economy, combined with a lot of individuals moving to towns where pedestrian crashes are common. A combination of these two factors makes pedestrian collisions most likely to occur. Distracted driving was also a probable cause for pedestrian crashes. However, GHSA was incapable of definitely stating to what extent it contributed to the increase because of a lack of reliable statistics.

Most Unsafe Intersections in LA for Pedestrians

The Los Angeles Times did massive research in 2018, which categorized, by intersection, each pedestrian crash and death in LA County. It studied 817 intersections in twelve years and discovered that the dangerous one of all was Western Avenue & Slauson Avenue, which saw forty pedestrians get struck by vehicles over the twelve years. Out of these 40, two died. Highland Avenue & Hollywood Blvd., and Crenshaw Blvd. & MLK Jr. were the second most risky, with thirty-eight and thirty-four pedestrians getting knocked down at each intersection, respectively.

Whereas neither of the intersections we have mentioned above is downtown, that section of LA was the riskiest in the whole county. It saw six hundred and fifty-nine pedestrians get knocked down during the twelve years.

As per the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), two pedestrians got killed or injured in accidents for every 100000 daily motor vehicle miles covered in LA in 2013. This means there were approximately thirteen accidents involving the people on foot every day. During 2013, LA had seventy-six pedestrian fatalities due to traffic accidents. It came second after New York City, which had a hundred and thirty-two pedestrians pass away due to being knocked over by a motor vehicle.

Factors Contributing to Pedestrian Accidents

Several factors contribute to pedestrian crashes, including the pedestrian’s age, lighting, the pedestrian’s location, driver inattention, and alcohol use. The 2014 NHTSA statistics show that 78% of pedestrian-related collisions occur in urban settings, while 71% take place at non-intersections. Take Los Angeles, for example. In 2013, Los Angeles alone had up to 227 road accident fatalities, and 76 of the people that died in these crashes in the LA city were pedestrians. Most crashes happened in low-lighting conditions, with approximately 72% of them occurring during the night. The highest percentage of pedestrian accidents occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., while the second-highest percentage occurred between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m.

The pedestrian’s gender and age are also significant contributing factors to accidents. The elderly and children are at a higher risk of being in pedestrian crashes compared to middle-aged people. During 2014, 19% of all the minors that were aged fourteen years or younger that died in crashes were people on foot. Five percent of all those who died were children aged between five and nine years. Also, this age group accounted for 15% of all the pedestrians that sustained injuries in road collisions. Elderly persons aged 60 to 64 years accounted for 20% of all the pedestrian fatalities and 10% of all the pedestrian-related injuries. Over 70% of all the deaths were of the male gender.

In 48% of the pedestrian accident cases recorded, either the pedestrian or driver was intoxicated with alcohol when the collision happened. Out of the deadly crashes, approximately 34% involved a pedestrian with a .08% BAC level, while 14% involved drivers with 0.08 % or more BAC level.

Apart from alcohol intoxication, other driver elements that led to pedestrian crashes included motorists who failed to stop their vehicles at intersections. Others were drivers that passed other drivers in intersections or crosswalks, driver inattention because of the cell phone, or any other electronic gadget use.  Other motorists also merely failed to notice pedestrians due to not paying enough attention to their position on the side of the roadway.

Pedestrians are Susceptible to Life-Threatening Injuries

Usually, pedestrians do not have any protection against injuries in case of a vehicle collision. Their bodies take the whole force of the impact of the accident. When an auto is moving at an elevated speed or the auto is an SUV or a truck, the possibility of death and traumatic injuries increases. But pedestrian accidents where the vehicle was moving at a low speed can lead to traumatic injuries and permanent disabilities due to the pedestrians not having protection to shield the impact.

Common types of injuries in pedestrian-related accidents include:

  • Shoulder and neck injuries
  • Head injuries, which include concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord and back injuries, which include paralysis
  • Amputations
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Damage to internal organs and internal bleeding

A pedestrian-related accident can lead to a kind of disability that can prevent you from working or resuming their usual daily activities. Just one mistake could change your life forever.

How a Pedestrian Can Avoid Accidents With Vehicles

As we mentioned before, every year, thousands of walkers sustain injuries, whether minor or severe, not to talk of individuals that die in pedestrian-related accidents. There are measures that walkers can take to reduce the chances or avoid getting injured in pedestrian crashes. The various safety tips and measures that the California Office of Traffic Safety offers include:

  • Avoid getting distracted when walking
  • Avoid jaywalking
  • Making yourself more visible. You can do this by wearing bright clothes and carrying with you a flashlight
  • Make eye contact with motorists before you cross the road
  • Always looking left, right, then left again before you cross a street
  • Crossing streets or roads at marked intersections or crosswalks

On the other hand, drivers have to be:

  • Aware — A pedestrian can act unpredictably. For instance, he/she can walk into the vehicle’s path at any time
  • Cautious — Watch out for kids and stay alert to places that likely to have more pedestrians, including playgrounds, school zones, intersections, and bus stops
  • Patient — When you’re trying to pass a cyclist or pedestrian, allow enough space and ensure they are in your line of sight
  • Vigilant — Drivers must always give way to walkers even if they walk into the roadway from any other place that’s not a crosswalk.

Pedestrian Laws & Right of Way

Whereas most of us know that we have to look right, left, and right again before we can cross the road, the mere fact that you were careful does not always make you have the way, or otherwise exempt you from liability as a walker. It is no doubt that the motorist ought not to knock anyone over. However, you have to make it your habit to cross the street as carefully as you can.

Under the state’s Vehicle Code, every driver has to observe several laws as far as pedestrians are concerned. They include:

  • Giving way to any walker crossing the road within a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk in an intersection
  • Only driving on sidewalks if they’re exiting or entering an alleyway/garage. Even then, they need to give way to pedestrians.
  • Not overtaking an auto that has stopped at a crosswalk. The vehicle may have stopped to let pedestrians cross.
  • Not stopping their car at a crosswalk because this places pedestrians that have to go around your auto at risk.
  • Pedestrians should not jaywalk. If a vehicle gets involved in a crash because they are evading a jaywalker, that walker could be held accountable
  • The laws regarding blind walkers are that should the person pull his/her cane inward then step away from a curb, know they don’t mean to cross the street, They depend on the vehicle’s sound to tell them how near a car is. Thus, stop five feet from an intersection. Also, don’t give instructions verbally.

The criminal punishment for the failure to give way to walkers is a fine of $220 at the minimum if it results in injuries. The consequences of failing to give way to the blind walkers are stricter. A driver will be subject to six months of jail time and up to $1,000 fine.

Even though these laws can pardon motorists of criminal misconduct if they are followed, they don’t entirely take away liability. Even if you walk across the road without utilizing a crosswalk when the motorist has seen a green light, the driver has to act with due care so they can avoid hitting you even if you would be 100% negligent when a lawsuit is filed. The same case applies to pedestrians. You can’t suddenly go out of the curb if a vehicle is close, obstruct approaching traffic, or stop in the middle of the intersection even if you’ve got the right of way. The bottom line is pedestrians and drivers alike have to be cautious of their environment.

What You Should Do If Hit by a Vehicle

You must do various things if you’ve been involved in an accident as a pedestrian. Firstly, ensure you are in good condition to gather as much proof as possible. If you are severely injured, don’t try to move and ask for assistance.  But if you didn’t sustain severe injuries, document as much information as possible.

Take photos of any road signs, skid marks, injuries, gouge marks, potholes, and the vehicle that hit you. Also, note down the vehicle’s plate number, model and make, and the statements of any witnesses that were at the scene. Apart from taking witness statements, ensure you take their names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Documenting the scene of the accident is critical, especially if an argument will arise over which party was liable. It helps prevent the motorist from pinning the fault on you.

Filing a report with the police is also critical. You may need it when you decide to proceed against the at-fault party. Therefore, your initial step ought to be calling law enforcement officers to the scene so you can give your account of events before, during, and after the accident, and the police can investigate the scene.

Lastly, even if you don’t initially believe you’re severely injured, you still should seek medical care and have the doctor examine you thoroughly. Certain severe injuries like the internal ones might not show symptoms in the beginning. Seeking to recover damages while you haven’t gone to the hospital could affect your compensation since the insurance company will claim that you were not severely injured if it took you long to seek treatment.

Bringing a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit or Claim

If you’re injured in a vehicle accident, you will usually sustain significant financial, emotional, and physical damages.  The motorist may be responsible for your lost wages, medical bills, loss of future earning capacity, emotional distress, pain & suffering, etc. If you are in this situation, reach out to us to discuss your legal rights. Our pedestrian accident lawyer can assist you in filing an injury claim or lawsuit if you’ve been injured in a pedestrian-related crash. You deserve fair compensation for all of your damages inflicted by the negligent party.

It is also worth knowing that even if the motorist flees the accident scene and you did get to note down the make or model, or even the license plate number of the car, you could still seek to recover damages for your losses and injuries. If you are in this situation, or otherwise the motorist doesn’t have insurance, your medical insurance will pay any medical expenses you have. If you’ve car insurance, you could still file a claim with your provider, although you were not driving.

Also, note that California State follows the pure comparative negligence rule. This means that even if you were partly to blame for the crash, you could still recover your compensation, but it will be reduced depending on your percentage of liability. For instance, if your damages are worth $10,000, but you’re 25% at fault, you would get only $7500. Gathering as much proof as possible could prevent liability from being attributed to you falsely.

Hire a Pedestrian Accident Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me

If you or the person you love has been severely hurt in a pedestrian-related crash in California, you should get help from an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as you can. An attorney will negotiate with the insurance company for fair compensation. And if you must file a lawsuit, the attorney will build a solid case that will help you obtain the best possible results. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we will do an honest evaluation of your injuries, calculate the damages you deserve to get, and ensure the liable party is held accountable. Call us today at 619-625-8707 for quick and transparent services.  We serve clients from all across California who have personal injury-related cases.