The California Department of Motor Vehicles set out a guide for pedestrians and drivers to explain the rules of the road. Generally, drivers must take special care around crosswalks and intersections and be wary of blind corners. Pedestrians must look out for their own safety and take care to avoid accidents. However, accidents happen even to the most careful people. Both pedestrians and drivers could share the fault for a pedestrian accident. This is a short guide to California pedestrian laws and what to do after a pedestrian accident.
What If I Was a Pedestrian and the Accident Was My Fault?
California law requires pedestrians to act reasonably when they are walking near or on a road. This means that you can never assume that a driver will give you the right of way, even if you’re in a crosswalk. It also means not walking while texting on your phone, or stepping into the road without making sure no cars are coming.
If you were a pedestrian in an accident, you likely can still recover for your injuries, even if you were partly at fault. California follows a pure comparative negligence model, which means that someone’s financial claim is reduced by their percentage of fault. So if the pedestrian is 20% at fault, they received 80% of the amount of their damages. The jury or insurance adjuster determines the percentage of fault based on the facts of the accident. Your attorney will investigate the accident and your part in it, and they will develop a strong case to maximize your compensation.
What If I Hit a Pedestrian but it Wasn’t My Fault?
If you hit a pedestrian, do not leave the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident is a very serious offense. Call the police, and call an ambulance if the pedestrian is not conscious to do it for themselves. You’ll have to give the police a report about what happened, but stick to the facts as you understand them and try to say as little as possible otherwise. Any statements you make to the police, the pedestrian, or any witnesses could be used against you later. You may think you’re just apologizing, but it may look like an admission of guilt.
It’s not automatically the driver’s fault in pedestrian accidents. Your attorney may be able to gather evidence to show that the pedestrian did not act responsibly. Examples of irresponsible pedestrian behavior could be if they were texting while crossing the street, jay-walking without looking both ways, or were careless in a parking lot where cars are moving around constantly. A good lawyer will build a case in your defense to show that the pedestrian shared some of the liability for the accident. Your liability will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. For example, if they are claiming $100,000 in damages, but the jury determines that they are 75% responsible for the accident, you will owe 25%, or $25,000, instead of the entire amount.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident?
Whether you were the pedestrian or the driver involved in a pedestrian accident, the most important thing is to make sure to take care of your injuries. Get checked out by a doctor, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious.
As soon as possible after a pedestrian accident, call a personal injury attorney. Pedestrian accidents are serious. Depending on the circumstances, a driver who hits a pedestrian could be facing criminal charges or a serious traffic offense—like reckless driving—and heavy fines. Your attorney can help you understand what kind of issues you’re dealing with and navigate the legal issues. For injured pedestrians, a lawyer will know how to showcase your evidence to present a strong case for a fair settlement with the insurance company. If they are not able to agree on a number, your legal practitioner will represent you at trial.
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