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Determining Fault In A Pedestrian Accident

Car accidents involving pedestrians for some obvious reasons tend to end with a difference in damages- the pedestrian gets significant injuries while the car occupants sustain no injuries and there is little or no damage to the vehicle. Simply put, in an accident involving pedestrian vs. car, the car usually wins. This is because pedestrians are not protected by safety features like those available to occupants of the automobile.

Pedestrian accidents are some of the most devastating accidents because of the severity of injuries they cause to the victims. The human body is fragile and this means that even a slow speed impact can result in serious damages. Victims of pedestrian accidents often sustain catastrophic injuries including severe head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, fractured bones, amputation injuries, internal bleeding and damage as well as psychological injuries. Recovering from such injuries can take a significant amount of time with some of them resulting in permanent disability. In the process, there will be huge medical expenses that may take a toll on the victim and their family members.

Individuals involved in pedestrian-car accidents are entitled to compensation for different damages and these include:

  • lowered quality of life
  • pain and suffering
  • the past and future medical costs
  • emotional trauma and
  • loss of wages and future earning potential

You should not in any way suffer in silence. Contact an experienced LA car accident lawyer at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at 424-231-2013 to get a free and comprehensive evaluation of your case. Our attorneys have fought for the rights of Los Angeles residents for more than 16 years and we are committed to applying all the tactics to help you secure maximum compensation. While pedestrians are the most vulnerable individuals on the streets of Los Angeles, they should not feel like so in the courtroom.

Common causes of pedestrian accidents

The question in pedestrian accidents isn’t always a matter of damages- as in you cannot just say ‘I got hit by a car pay me now.’ The main question lies on the issue of liability, that is who is at fault? Who should pay for injuries and damages? This also involves asking if the driver was 100% at fault or the pedestrian is partly to blame for the accident, and if so, what percentage of liability will be on his/her shoulders. This apportionment of liability is termed as comparative negligence. In order to understand the parties that can be held liable in a pedestrian accident, it is important to first look at the common causes of pedestrian accidents in LA. These include:

  • Over speeding
  • Driving under the influence
  • Distracted driving
  • Running a red light
  • Making a left turn without looking for pedestrians
  • Not coming to a full stop at a stop sign
  • Poor road conditions
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Individuals being in the crosswalk when it is not indicated for them to do so
  • Driving off the road and onto a sidewalk
  • Walking on the road instead of the sidewalk

To establish liability, a personal injury attorney can work with specialists including reconstruction specialists, medical practitioners, and photogrammetric engineers. These experts will help conduct an investigation and evaluate the police reports and witness accounts.

Legal conditions to prove negligence

If you are a victim of a pedestrian-car accident, you will have an opportunity to file a claim through the other driver’s insurance policy or your insurance provider. However, this cannot go through if you cannot prove that the other party’s negligence led to your injuries and current state. According to the American Bar Association, to prove that the driver or any other at-fault party failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner, you must show that:

  • The driver had a legal duty of care towards the pedestrian

Under California Vehicle Code Section 21950, drivers are obliged to yield the right of way in regard to pedestrians crossing the roadway. This covers pedestrians within marked or unmarked crosswalks. The driver is expected to exercise all due care and reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other necessary action that will help safeguard the pedestrian’s safety. Simply put, the driver must operate the vehicle in a manner that will ensure that the road is a safe place for pedestrians.

  • The driver breached the legal duty of care in some way

The second condition to be used in proving negligence involves a breach of the duty of care. The driver owes pedestrians a duty of care; did he/she live up to it? Did he/she act in a reasonably prudent manner in circumstances leading to the mishap? If the driver is found to have to have breached the duty, then their action can be termed as negligent. Negligence simply means that the driver created a dangerous situation beyond the normal level of risk. For example, vehicles are expected to a stop at a red light but since there are drivers who act negligently, they will run a red light and this increases the chances of pedestrian-car accidents to occur. In some cases, it is difficult to prove that the duty of care was breached. There is a set speed limit and the driver who knocked you could have been in compliance with the law. But since the driver is expected to take any action relating to the operation of the vehicle in order to ensure the safety of the pedestrian, they can be proved negligent if the speed of the vehicle was not safe enough for the pedestrian.

  • The breach of duty directly caused your injuries

You are injured and you want to be compensated. Therefore you must be able to prove that the driver owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and now you are left with severe injuries simply because that driver acted negligently. Proving that the other party’s carelessness directly caused your injuries can be complex and this is why you need a veteran and resourceful personal injury attorney to employ all the tactics required to connect the injuries to the accident.

  • You suffered damages in relation to those injuries

The last element used to prove negligence is damages. A pedestrian is exposed to life-changing and life-long damages if knocked down by a car. The collision can be traumatizing. Damages can be financial, emotional, physical or mental. These damages, for instance, could be pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and wrongful death. To get the compensation that you most deserve, you should be able to prove that these damages are as a result of someone else’s failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner.

Though these steps may seem straightforward, the at-fault driver’s insurance agent and attorney will work hard to reduce the driver’s liability by arguing that you were also negligent. The driver may come up with claims such as you were wearing dark clothes at night, you were crossing the street where there was no crosswalk, or you were walking on the road rather than on the sidewalk. The sad thing is that these attempts to make the pedestrian and not the driver liable for the injuries are often accepted by the courts. This is the single most reason why you need an experienced attorney who can handle a legal claim for a pedestrian accident. With a wide array of resources to help in gathering the necessary evidence, the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney is committed to fighting for you. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Our dedicated attorneys are always ready to assist.

Area of liability in pedestrian accidents

In order to determine who was at fault, we must also look at the parties that can be held liable for the pedestrian-car accident. These include:

  • The driver

The first person that is commonly held responsible for car accidents involving a pedestrian is the driver. In most circumstances leading to pedestrian accidents, drivers are driving recklessly, while intoxicated, distracted and above all, they fail to obey the traffic laws. Such a driver can be proved negligent and therefore liable for the damages caused to the victim.

  • The pedestrian

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable when it comes to car accidents but this does not mean that they are always blameless. California Vehicle Code Section 21950(b) governs the behavior of pedestrians while on the road. Pedestrians cannot leave a place of safety all of a sudden and walk into the path of a vehicle that is so close to causing an accident. Pedestrians are required to be careful on the road, obey the traffic rules and portray responsible behavior. This involves the use crosswalks and avoiding walking in places where pedestrian traffic is prohibited for example along highways.

  • Other factors

It is possible that other factors contributed to the accident and neither the pedestrian nor the driver was at fault. Weather conditions may affect visibility and this means that the driver is not able to see the pedestrian or stop in time. There are also other conditions whose fault is not the driver’s or the pedestrian’s but of another party. The accident, for instance, could be as a result of defective vehicle equipment or bad road conditions. In the case of defective auto parts, the manufacturers can be faulted for the accident while a government entity in charge of roads can be faulted for poorly constructed or poorly maintained roads.

Cases in which both parties have been negligent

In some cases, both a pedestrian and driver are at fault for a car accident. For instance, if the pedestrian was jaywalking and got hit by a driver who was speeding, both would probably be at fault for the accident. California works on a “pure comparative negligence” standard meaning that an accident victim can still recover some compensation no matter their degree of fault. This, therefore, implies that even if the plaintiff was 98% negligent, they are still entitled to 2% of the compensation that is supposed to be paid. The defendant’s liability is not eliminated but rather reduced. For example, if you are deemed 20% responsible, the driver is said to be 80% responsible. If the total available compensation is $100,000, you will only receive $80,000 and this means that your amount is reduced by 20% as per your degree of fault. For comparative negligence to work, however, the defendant must also be able to show that the plaintiff’s negligence also contributed to the accident. If the plaintiff’s behavior was not the cause of the accident but played a role in worsening the injuries, then the defendant is out of luck.

Methods of determining fault

Figuring who is at fault in a pedestrian accident case is a matter of deciding who was negligent. Your argument to an insurance provider or court that another person was at fault for your accident can be strong if you are able to find support for your conclusion. Since police officers will arrive at the scene to evaluate the area and file a report, you should ask the traffic division how to get a copy. The police report will state the officer’s opinion that there was a traffic law violation and that violation caused the mishap. This report can serve as great support in showing that the other person was at fault. Your LA personal injury attorney will also work with experts in obtaining evidence to support your claim.

Dealing with fault allocation and defenses in pedestrian-car accidents cases can be complicated and this is why you need the assistance of an attorney. Proving the negligence of another requires the power of persuasion and you can find lawyers with that skill at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney. Even if you are partly at fault, do not be afraid to seek the help of experienced personal injury lawyers who have handled such cases successfully many times. Please call the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney today at 424-231-2013 or fill our online form to schedule a free initial consultation. If we don’t get a recovery, you won’t owe us any fee.