A pedestrian can be struck down by a vehicle, a bike, or a dog that is unleashed. Pedestrians usually have no protective clothing, and when knocked down, they suffer the direct force of the impact. When a pedestrian is injured in an accident, the law in California provides for them to seek damages from the person or party responsible for their injuries. Determining the party at fault is at the center of establishing the party at fault and liable for the damages. Even when fault is confirmed, receiving compensation for your losses can be challenging with the other party looking for reasons not to pay. This makes it essential for an injured pedestrian to engage a lawyer that will help you recover the damages suffered. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has a team of lawyers experienced in helping you receive compensation for the losses you incur from the accident.
How Pedestrian Accidents Happen in California
Most people think that pedestrian accidents can only be caused by vehicles. There are many ways pedestrian accidents occur as recognized by the law and where the victim can seek compensation for them. Some of the causes of pedestrian accidents are:
- When vehicles fail to yield way to pedestrians
- When bikers ride on the pathway
- When cars drive along the sidewalk in violation of VEH 21663
- When dogs are uncontrolled
- When a pedestrian is knocked down by an electric scooter
- Other pedestrians
When a pedestrian is injured due to another’s negligence, they have a legal claim for their injuries. The damages that can be awarded range from economic to noneconomic, as we shall later discuss.
Even when a pedestrian does not know who is responsible for the crash, the recklessness or negligence of another party means they are accountable for the injuries sustained. Talking to a lawyer that specializes in pedestrian injuries can help you receive your rightful compensation.
What You Should Do When Hit by a Vehicle
Some of the most dangerous and severe accidents for a pedestrian are those involving a vehicle. A pedestrian can be hit crossing the road at a crosswalk while walking along the road, on the sidewalk, or at the parking lot. Regardless of where the accident happens and how it happens, you are entitled to compensation. Based on the negligence laws of California, if you are injured out of the negligence of the driver, establishing the negligence is essential for them to take responsibility for the damages.
For a victim or living family to recover damages following an accident involving a pedestrian, they must prove the driver's negligence. This they will do by showing:
- The driver owed the pedestrian a duty of care
- Through neglect, the driver violated the duty of care and
- The negligence by the driver significantly attributed to the injuries or death of the pedestrian.
In California, drivers owe pedestrians a duty of care. They also owe the same commitment to other road users, such as fellow drivers, cyclists, and motorcyclists. The negligence by a driver can be established by showing that they violated traffic rules; they drove recklessly and were distracted on the road.
According to VEH 21960, a prevalent cause of pedestrian-car accidents is the lack of a driver's yielding way to persons. The law requires drivers to always yield way to individuals at intersections or on crosswalks. The law also makes it an offense to drive on a safety zone such as a sidewalk. If a driver violates the law and hits a pedestrian, he or she will be held responsible for the damages.
A pedestrian sometimes may not be on the sidewalk and still is hit by a vehicle. This does not, however, absorb the driver from blame. A driver can demonstrate negligence in many ways, including:
- Over speeding – This involves driving over the recommended speed or above the speed limit.
- Failing to yield way especially when turning on the left or a pedestrian is crossing the road.
- Driving around a school bus that has stopped
- Running a red or stop sign
- Texting while driving in violation of VEH 23123.5
- Driving impaired by either alcohol or drugs
- Failing to give sufficient room for persons entering a car
If a motorist hits you, it is best to talk to a lawyer and let them engage the driver’s insurance provider. Remember, the insurance provider for the driver will always try to have you settle; in most cases, the amount they offer is usually below what you deserve. To avoid being taken advantage of, let your pedestrian lawyer deal with the insurance provider.
Other Reasons for Pedestrian Accidents
As earlier stated, accidents involving pedestrians are not always due to vehicles knocking them down. There are many different causes of pedestrian accidents that result in severe injuries. Some of these include:
Joggers or Runners Along The Sidewalk
Individuals run along the paths as a form of exercise. Some runners understand that they must share the pathway while others are inconsiderate and even reckless, threatening to knock down pedestrians. A pedestrian hit by a runner can easily be knocked over and suffer significant injuries.
A dog owner must have control over their dogs. When an owner fails to put their dog on a leash or lacks control over them, when they knock a pedestrian, the owner can be held responsible for the injuries sustained. Large dogs, when they knock down children, can cause severe injuries as a result. A dog can also run after a pedestrian making them fall and injure themselves.
When a dog is responsible for the pedestrian’s accident, the victim must demonstrate the negligence of the dog owner in controlling their dog, resulting in injuries. The law will expect the dog owner to take responsibility for the damages caused by their dog. A dog owner can violate some state laws or local laws that prohibit the presence of dogs in certain places. If this is the case, according to the law of negligence per se, the owner will be found negligent and responsible for the accident.
Cyclists Causing Accidents
Different cities have different policies for bicycles, sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians. For some, it is illegal, while for others, it is acceptable. A cyclist can be negligent and knock down a pedestrian on the pathway. A cyclist that hits a pedestrian and causes them to suffer injuries is responsible for the damages experienced.
The pedestrian in recovering damages must prove that:
- The bicyclist was negligent and reckless while riding.
- The cyclist rode in wanton and willful disregard of the safety of pedestrians like jumping over their feet. When this is established, the cyclist can be charged with Negligence Per Se.
There are no laws directing pedestrians on how to walk on the sidewalks. However, it is common courtesy for pedestrians to owe each other a duty of care. With courtesy, pedestrians will keep right and give way to their fellow pedestrians to pass. Unfortunately, there are those rude and obnoxious individuals that will refuse to yield.
Some people will walk in groups such as gang members and will refuse to give other pedestrians their way. Instead, they knock them down. When this happens, you can petition the court to recover damages for the injuries that resulted from the knockdown. The jury will establish if the group of people owed you a duty of care, and if from their negligence, you suffered the injuries you are seeking damages for.
Trucks or Buses Driven Near the Sidewalk
Some vehicles or buses have large side mirrors going over their edge. A pedestrian standing at a bus stop can be knocked over by the mirror of a bus that pulls over. A bus pulling over can also be moving at high speed and knocks down a pedestrian by their mirror. This can result in severe injuries to the pedestrian’s head or others when they are knocked on the ground.
When bus drivers are trained, they are shown how to maneuver their buses. If through recklessness they hit a pedestrian with the mirror, they can be sued for damages caused.
Who is at Risk for a Pedestrian Accident?
Any person that walks along the sidewalk, at the parking lot, and any public place is at risk of getting into an accident. The injuries pedestrians sustain depends on what caused the accident and where it happened. Because of how fragile the human body is, a simple accident can result in serious injuries. Some of the injuries a pedestrian can sustain and receive damages for include:
- Lacerations, cuts, and bruises
- Broken and fractured bones
- Neck, head and spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries
- Concussions resulting in cognitive impairment
- Internal injuries
How severe the injuries depend on the impact and the type of accident it was. For instance, being hit by a vehicle will result in more severe injuries than being hit by a bicycle. Any person can be hurt in a collision. However, some individuals are at a higher risk of sustaining more significant injuries or fatalities than others. These include:
- Pedestrian accidents involving children as the victims
- Older adults that are naturally weaker
- Individuals that are intoxicated by alcohol at the time of the accident
- Individuals that are knocked down in urban areas or in areas where there are no intersections.
What a Pedestrian Should do Immediately Following an Accident to Support their Damages Claim
As earlier said, when a person is injured in a pedestrian accident, they are entitled according to the law to recover compensation for the damages suffered. If a car knocks you over or anything else, you need to receive medical help immediately for the injuries sustained. You can call for emergency help if able or request someone to do it for you.
Never assume you are okay even when you do not notice injuries. A seemingly simple impact can lead to significant neck, head, or back injuries that can be traumatic. Other injuries may be internal, causing damages to the organs and bleeding internally. If a doctor is not discovered and treated, the injuries can quickly cause the death of the pedestrian.
Following the accident, it will help your claim to collect as many details as you can. If possible, do the following:
- Get the details of the people involved in the accident. For instance, if it is a dog, get information about the dog owner, their address and contact details, and their ID details.
- If a motor vehicle caused the accident, details of the driver, driver’s license details, information of their insurance provider, the vehicle registration number, and any other relevant information.
- If you are in a position to take pictures of the scene and the injuries sustained, it would be essential to support your claim. If your phone can make a video, it is equally important to help your claim.
- If there were any witnesses to the incident, getting their details is essential and providing a written and signed statement.
Never admit fault. It is almost natural for a person to apologize for the collision. Unfortunately, the at-fault party can use your apology as an admission of fault. When an accident happens involving a pedestrian, the person responsible is often determined by the jury. When you are uncertain of the cause of the accident, never admit fault regardless of the pressure.
Instead, get in touch with a pedestrian lawyer and avoid insurance company dealings by yourself. Insurance adjusters are trained in asking leading questions that, when answered wrongly, can result in you losing your damages. Let your lawyer discuss with them about fault and present your claim to them.
Recovering Compensation for Damages When You are Injured on a Sidewalk
Sometimes, pedestrian accidents are not caused by another person or a vehicle. A pedestrian jogging or walking on a sidewalk can trip and fall. The fall can result in injuries that can cause pedestrian financial damages through medical expenses and missed days of work. The question remains, can one recover damages and who is liable for the accident?
When a pedestrian is injured on a sidewalk due to its dangerous surface, the owner of the property can be held accountable for the damages. Based on California's premises liability law, a property owner is obligated to keep the property in safe conditions. This includes ensuring the sidewalks that pedestrians use are well-maintained to avoid accidents.
In recovering damages as a result of an accident on a sidewalk, you must show:
- The defendant is the owner or controlled and occupied the property.
- The defendant neglected caring or maintaining the property in the right conditions.
- That due to negligence, you were injured.
- The negligence was the significant element in causing your injuries.
If you can prove negligence on the part of the property owner, you can recover compensation for the injuries. An experienced pedestrian lawyer can help you file a petition in court to recover compensation for the damages you suffer as a result of the injuries.
If the city owns the sidewalk where the accident occurred, you may sue the city for the injuries. A government agency may have been aware of the sidewalk's dangerous conditions and neglected to do something about it. Sometimes, the city may know of other people that were injured due to the poor state of the sidewalk.
Available Compensation in Pedestrian Accidents
The extent of injuries pedestrian experiences determines the damages they can receive as compensation. When the victim of the accident dies, the recoverable damages are even higher. A hurt pedestrian can file a suit for compensatory costs following an accident. These damages are designed to return the victim to where they were before the accident. A pedestrian can recover compensation for the following damages:
- Hospital and medical bills – Some pedestrian accidents, especially those involving a vehicle, can result in the most significant injuries or catastrophic injuries. The medical bills can cause substantial financial damages to the victim and their family in the process of treating the injuries. A pedestrian is allowed by the law to recover compensation for the money they used seeking treatment. This includes the cost of medication and medical procedures presently and in the future regarding the injuries.
- Counseling – Most accident victims, especially those that suffer catastrophic injuries, get mentally or psychologically affected by the injuries. This may require them to seek advice to help them cope with the trauma of their injuries. The cost of the counseling is recoverable as compensation.
- Physical and occupational therapy – Pedestrian accidents can result in severely deforming accidents that may require the victim to undergo physical and occupational therapy. For instance, if a pedestrian loses their leg in the crash, they may get fitted with a prosthetic. This will require them to learn how to walk with the prosthetic leg. Sometimes the victim can be bed-ridden for extended periods requiring them to learn how to walk again. All these costs are recoverable damages to the accident victims.
- Lost wages and earnings – When the pedestrian was a productive member of their family or society, it will mean as they recover, they will miss work. As a result, they will be unable to make a living as they recover from the injuries. The injured pedestrian can recover compensation for the income lost during this period of recovery.
- Lost capacity to earn – When injuries cause catastrophic damages to the victim, he or she may be rendered unable to make a living for the rest of their lives. These individuals will, however, need an income to continue living their lives. Thus, they get entitled to recover compensation for the income they would have been able to receive if they had not been injured.
- Pain and suffering are the pain an accident victims undergo as they recover from the injuries, and the suffering is also subject to compensation.
- Wrongful death – A pedestrian can die at the accident scene or succumb to injuries from the accident. The surviving family can seek compensation for their wrongful death. Additionally, the family can recover compensation for the expenses incurred, treating them as well as funeral and burial expenses.
- Lost limb – Some pedestrian-car accidents can result in the pedestrian losing a leg or part of their body. Although no amount of money can replace a body part, the pedestrian is allowed to seek compensation for the lost body part.
Filing a Claim to Recover Damages
Some claims in pedestrian accidents are sought directly from the person responsible. For instance, when a dog owner is at fault for their dog injuring you, they may not have an insurance policy covering such damages. For this reason, your lawyer will file a petition seeking damages directly from them.
If they refuse an out of court agreement, your lawyer can file a petition with the court seeking compensation for the damages you have suffered.
If you are hit by a vehicle, the fault must be determined. If the vehicle owner is entirely to blame for the accident, he or she will be expected to take liability for the injuries suffered. Your lawyer will file a claim with their insurance provider detailing the damages you need compensation for. The claim must be accompanied by evidence supporting it.
Some of the evidence that supports a claim is a medical report and bills that detail the injuries you suffered and the treatment you received. The cost of every medical procedure and medicines used in your treatment must be included together with a comprehensive report from your doctor. This report must consist of not only the current cost of treatment but also the cost of past treatment. Future treatment costs, if any, due to the injuries, must also be included.
Upon receiving the claim, the insurance company will require time to evaluate it and carry out an investigation into the claim. If they do not agree with the claim amount, they will decline to pay it instead of providing a counteroffer. If an agreement is not reached, your lawyer will file a petition with the court to seek compensation for the damages.
Sometimes, when determining fault, a pedestrian may be found partially to blame for the accident. In such a case, the law on comparative negligence will be used in recovering compensation. According to this law, each party receives damages according to their degree of blame in the accident. If the driver is found to have been responsible for 90% of the accident, the pedestrian will receive 90% in damages while the vehicle owner gets the remaining 10%.
Find a Lawyer Near Me
Pedestrian accidents are rampant and can be caused by a variety of things. Regardless of the cause, the law allows victims to recover damages for the injuries they sustain. Receiving compensation following a pedestrian accident may not be easy, primarily due to the element of determining fault. However, with an experienced lawyer, the process is much easier. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we have experience in pedestrian accidents and can recover damages on your behalf. Give us a call at 619-625-8707 and let us help you get your due compensation.