We all know what traffic and pedestrian signals are for, and no pedestrian wants to get hit by a motor vehicle when crossing an intersection that’s controlled by signals. We all know what stop signs are for too. No pedestrian wants to get hit when a motorist pulls from a stop sign after stopping or failing to stop at it either. Unfortunately, these types of pedestrian accidents happen every day.
According to the California Department of Public Health, 21 percent of all traffic fatalities in California involve pedestrians. That number might be as high as 23 percent. If a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, he or she is completely exposed to serious and debilitating injuries or even death. Unlike a motorist, that pedestrian has no frame and body with crumple zones to offer protection. He or she has no air bags or seat restraint systems either.
Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks
In a perfect world where everybody is free of carelessness and negligence, no pedestrians are going to get hit by motor vehicles. That’s because everybody would know their rights and duties, and they will act in accordance with them. It’s not a perfect world though, and in our imperfect world, we have traffic laws that indicate who might have the right-of-way when a pedestrian crosses a roadway. The general rule is that the motorist yields to the pedestrian. As per California Vehicle Code section 21950, the driver of a motor vehicle who is approaching a pedestrian in a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection “shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”
When There is No Intersection or Crosswalk
In early April of 2018, a 34-year-old Modesto woman was killed during the late morning after being struck in the roadway by a car while she was apparently pushing a bicycle across the street. She reportedly wasn’t near a crosswalk when the impact occurred. A scenario like this is when the burden shifts. When a pedestrian is crossing a street with no intersection or crosswalk, the duty to use due care and caution and yield the right-of-way carries over to the pedestrian. California Vehicle Code section 21954(a) states as follows: “Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.” Regardless of the language of this statute, section 21954(b) goes on to state that “the provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from a duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”
When common sense takes a detour and a pedestrian is injured, the failure of the pedestrian to use due care and caution for his or her own personal safety comes to issue. That’s when the law of comparative negligence is triggered. Sure, the family of the Modesto woman can bring a wrongful death action against the driver who hit her, but under California comparative negligence law, any damages award must be reduced by the percentage of negligence attributable to the woman. Since California is what’s known as a pure comparative negligence state, even if the woman was determined to be 60 percent at fault for the accident, her survivors could still obtain a 40 percent award. That can be a significant sum of money in a wrongful death case. Given the fact that the accident occurred in broad daylight, the driver of the car that hit her might even be determined to be primarily at fault. Unless the parties settle, these are all questions of fact for a jury to sift through and decide.
Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law after any bicycle crash
If you were a pedestrian who was struck and injured by a motor vehicle inside or outside of a crosswalk in Modesto, San Francisco or anywhere in the State of California, contact our offices as soon as possible to obtain a free and confidential consultation and case evaluation. Never give any type of a statement to the opposing insurer. California law doesn’t require you to do that, and you can expect that any statement you might give will be used against you in the future. Talk to us first about what we might be able to do for you to obtain compensation for your injuries. We’re respected, experienced and effective California bicycle accident lawyers. You don’t need to bring a penny to visit us or retain us either. We don’t even get paid any legal fees at all unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. There’s no reason not to talk to us about any pedestrian accident case.