Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Los Angeles County has been rated as the most dangerous place to be a pedestrian for two years in a row. It will likely be a third once more data comes out, as a statewide study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has noted that pedestrian fatalities in car accidents rose by 7 percent in the first six months 2015 compared to 2014 during the same time period.
It’s no secret to residents of Los Angeles that walking around the city and its outlying areas, can be a risky endeavor, especially at night; nationally, 71 percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2013 happened at night or dawn/dusk, when it’s more difficult to see. Hit and runs are also a big problem in LA; approximately 60 percent of such accidents in California involved pedestrians so it’s important to know what your options are if you’re hit. You should consider consulting with an experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney to assist with your case.
Los Angeles and California Pedestrian Accident Statistics
Many recent reports have pegged Los Angeles as the pedestrian accident capital of the United States. An epidemic of hit and run accidents – nearly 20,000 hit and runs are reported in Los Angeles annually – has seen pedestrians make up one third of all traffic fatalities, nearly triple the national average.
A lack of funding for road safety may also be to blame. Nearly 20 percent of trips in Los Angeles are made by bicyclists or pedestrians, but only 1 percent of transportation funding are allocated for road safety and improvements for that group.
Most Dangerous Intersections in Los Angeles for Pedestrians
The LA Times conducted a massive study last year which broke down, by intersection, every single pedestrian accident and fatality in Los Angeles County. It examined 817 intersections over a 12-year period, and found that the most dangerous one was Slauson Ave. & Western Ave., which saw 40 pedestrians get hit by cars over that time span, two of which were killed.
Hollywood Blvd. & Highland Ave., and MLK Jr. Blvd. & Crenshaw Blvd. were the next most dangerous, with 38 and 34 pedestrians being hit at each, respectively. While none of these intersections are downtown, that part of Los Angeles was still the most dangerous as a whole. It saw 659 pedestrians get hit during the 12-year span.
According to California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) there were 2.2 pedestrians hurt or killed in crashes for every 100,000 daily vehicle miles traveled in Los Angeles County in 2013, which means that there were roughly 13 accidents involving pedestrians every single day. In 2013, Los Angeles had 76 pedestrians die in car accidents. The only city worse than that was New York; they had 132 pedestrians get killed because of being hit by a car.
California Pedestrian Laws and Right of Way
While all of us were taught to look both ways before crossing a street, the fact that a person was careful doesn’t give them the right of way or exempt them from fault as a pedestrian. Of course the driver has the responsibility to not hit someone, but the pedestrian has to take it upon themselves to cross as safely as possible.
According to California Vehicle Code, a driver must observe the following laws in relation to pedestrians:
- The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection
- Do not pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, as that person may be stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross.
- You may only drive on the sidewalk if entering or exiting a garage/alleyway, and even then you need to yield to pedestrians.
- Don’t stop in a crosswalk, as this puts pedestrians who have to walk around your vehicle in danger.
- A pedestrian may never jaywalk, and if a car gets in an auto accident because they’re avoiding a jaywalker, the pedestrian would be held responsible.
- The rules concerning blind pedestrians are that if the person pulls their cane inward and steps away from the curb, then they are not looking to cross. They rely on the sound of the cars to tell how close they are, so stop within five feet of an intersection and do not give verbal instructions.
The penalty to drivers for failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians is a minimum of $220 if it causes an injury. The penalty for failing to yield to a blind pedestrian is much more strict, and is subject to a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in prison or both.
These laws, while they can absolve drivers of criminal wrongdoing if the law is followed, do not completely take away fault. Even if the person walks across the street without using a crosswalk when the driver has a green light, that driver must “exercise due care” to avoid hitting a person, even if the pedestrian could be found 100 percent negligent in a lawsuit. The same goes for the pedestrian. You cannot suddenly step off the curb if the cars are near or stop in the middle of an intersection or otherwise obstruct impending traffic even if you have the right of way. Basically, driver and pedestrian alike must be aware of their surroundings.
What To Do If You’re In a Pedestrian Accident
First, make sure that you are okay. If you’re able, try to document everything that you can. Take pictures of any signs and gather witness statements if there were any. Filing a police report is crucial, so your first step should be calling the police. If you or any witnesses were able to obtain the license plate number or even just the make and model of the vehicle, that can go a long way in terms of catching a hit and run driver.
Documenting the scene is always crucial, but it becomes even more so if there is an argument over who was at fault. Noting any stop or yield signs, crosswalks, traffic signals, or the driver’s speed can all help in case the driver tries to pin the blame on you the pedestrian. Sometimes an injury may not make itself apparent until hours or even days later, so even if you don’t believe you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. If you end up seeking a settlement, waiting to receive medical treatment can affect your compensation, as insurance will say that your injury must not have been that serious if you waited to get treatment.
Filing a Lawsuit
We mentioned hit and run accidents earlier, and it’s important to know that even if the driver flees the scene and no one caught their license plate number or even the make of the vehicle, you can still seek compensation for your injuries. If this happens, or the driver has no insurance, then your medical insurance will cover any medical bills, and if you have auto insurance, you can still file a claim with them even though you weren’t technically driving. All of this is assuming that the pedestrian has uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which is usually required on auto insurance policies.
California also operates under the pure comparative negligence system, which means that if you the pedestrian was partially at fault, then you may have your compensation reduced. For example, if your settlement is for $10,000, but you are deemed to be 25 percent at fault, then you would only receive $7,500 of that. Documenting everything can prevent fault from falsely being attributed to you.
Contact Our Seasoned Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
If a lawsuit becomes necessary in order to recoup damages, it’s important to hire an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney for your case, like the professionals at Panish Shea & Boyle, LLP who can ensure that the insurance companies give fair compensation. If you or a loved one was a pedestrian in an accident call our office in Los Angeles today at 877.800.1700. We offer a free and confidential case evaluations and serve clients in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino, Riverside and all across Southern California.
For more information about Pedestrian Accidents, see the following resources: