Fourteen thousand pedestrians were injured in traffic accidents in California in 2018 and 893 pedestrians were killed. That’s nearly 25% of all auto accident fatalities in California.
Both drivers and pedestrians are equally responsible for mistakes that result in injuries and deaths.
Pedestrians Own Intersections
Pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks and at all intersections, even when there is no painted crosswalk. Unmarked crosswalks are implied as a matter of law at every intersection and are known as “statutory” crosswalks. While you cannot see them, the law holds that unmarked intersections have “statutory” crosswalks from corner to corner, which provide pedestrians the same legal protection as a painted crossing.
The right of way rule is simple.
When there is a pedestrian in a crosswalk or crossing at an unmarked intersection, the pedestrian owns the intersection. Under California Vehicle Code 21950, a driver must yield to a pedestrian who is “crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.”
Because a pedestrian “owns the intersection,” drivers must be extra vigilant, drive slowly and be ready to make an emergency brake application to avoid a crash at or near intersections.
Whenever it is foreseeable that someone “might’ be injured, failure to prevent an accident or injury is negligence for which you will be held accountable. The only question is “how much?”
Pedestrians Making Mistakes Are Protected by Law
While California law generally gives pedestrians the right-of-way at marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections, the statute also clearly states that pedestrians are required to watch out for their own safety and avoid making themselves an “immediate hazard.”
At jury trials involving injuries to a pedestrian, the jury is given this instruction: “A pedestrian must also use reasonable care for his or her own safety. A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. A pedestrian also must not unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.”
Because pedestrians make mistakes, the law requires that a driver still has the legal responsibility to act carefully. In other words, when a pedestrian who makes a mistake , no matter how stupid, the pedestrian does not become fair game for a driver.
Under California’s comparative fault laws, juries decide what percentage of negligence each party commits that resulted in injuries. When a pedestrian is a partial cause of an accident, the resulting verdict is reduced by that percentage of fault. And be sure, insurance defense lawyers always blame an injured pedestrian for causing their injuries.
Tell Your Children: Stop Signs and Red Lights Don’t Stop Cars
You can avoid suffering a broken leg, or being thrown onto the hood of a car and crushing your skull against a windshield if you keep in mind:
- Cars always win – pedestrians do not.
- Stop signs and red lights don’t stop cars.
- Cross only at intersections; no mid-street crossings.
- Never enter a crosswalk on a yellow light: it’s legal for cars but not pedestrians.
- Always make eye contact with drivers when crossing in front of a car.
- Wear white at night or carry a light to increase your visibility.
- Never use a black umbrella – especially dangerous at night blocking a driver’s view of your face and worse on rainy blustery nights.
- Never text while walking on a street or crossing an intersection.
- When there are no sidewalks, walk on the left facing oncoming traffic.
Contact Our Silicon Valley Pedestrians Accident Attorneys for Immediate Help
Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. As safety lawyers we are committed to providing our clients and the public with information for safer and healthier living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.