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Liability in a Pedestrian Car Accident

When is a Pedestrian At Fault for a Car Accident? Free Insight from the Best Pedestrian Accident Injury Attorneys

The vast majority of people automatically assume that a driver is always liable for hitting a pedestrian. This makes sense, especially because a human being is no match for an oncoming vehicle. However, it is entirely possible for a pedestrian to share some degree of liability for a pedestrian accident, especially if that individual was jaywalking, not watching the road, or intoxicated when the accident took place. Below, our experienced pedestrian accident lawyers will discuss what happens when a pedestrian is partially or completely at fault for causing a pedestrian accident.

If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, the experienced team of Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to help. We will recover all the compensation you are entitled to so that you can focus on your recovery and on the ones you care most about.

Determining Fault In A Pedestrian Accident

According to the California Vehicle Code, below are the most important laws affecting drivers and pedestrians. Among other considerations, a pedestrian accident lawyer will consider the following laws when determining who is at fault after a pedestrian accident:

  • A driver must always yield the right of way to a pedestrian who is crossing a roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
  • A driver must never stop within a crosswalk, as this forces a pedestrian to walk around that vehicle, which can be very dangerous.
  • A pedestrian is never allowed to jaywalk. If a driver is involved in a collision because he or she was trying to avoid hitting a jaywalker, the jaywalking pedestrian would be held liable.
  • A driver must never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. The stopped driver could be waiting for a pedestrian to cross safely.
  • A driver can drive on a sidewalk only when entering or exiting a garage or alleyway. However, that driver must still yield to a pedestrian when doing so.

By law, all drivers and pedestrians must be aware of their immediate surroundings. Even if a person walks across the street and does not use a crosswalk when a driver has a green light, that driver still has a duty of care to avoid hitting that jaywalker. Likewise, a pedestrian cannot suddenly step off the curb when a car is near, or just stop in the middle of an intersection, or block traffic even when they have the right of way. Any of the above acts are negligent and will greatly reduce a pedestrian’s available damages, regardless of whether they were hit by a car. 

Every individual who is using public roads is required to exercise a reasonable level of care. Therefore, a pedestrian who doesn’t follow applicable pedestrian laws will at least be found partially liable for an accident. 

Let’s consider an example. Say that a pedestrian was jaywalking between two parked cars and then walked into the path of an oncoming vehicle. In this case, the driver has little to no chance of avoiding that pedestrian. The jaywalking pedestrian in this example will most likely be held liable because he or she failed to follow their legally mandated duty of care as a pedestrian.

Further, if the driver was able to react in time to avoid hitting that pedestrian but crashed into another car in the process, the pedestrian would also be held liable for any losses caused to both the driver and the second vehicle that was struck.

Shared Liability

California is a comparative liability state, which means that more than one individual may be found liable, including the pedestrian. Therefore, liability can be divided based on the degree of fault. Damages will also be divided based on the share of fault. Finally, any available damages will be reduced depending on an individual’s degree of fault.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss  of Enjoyment of Life
  • Other Non-Economic Damanges

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact are only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact Us To Find Out How We Can Help

On the occasion that you have suffered injuries in the city of Los Angeles because of a pedestrian accident, a lawyer at our firm can assist you with recovering reimbursement for the troubles you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Email us at [email protected] or call us today at (213) 927-3700 for a free consultation with our seasoned and qualified legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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