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Causes of Pedestrian Accidents and Legal Protections

Common Causes and Legal Implications of Pedestrian Accidents

It should come as no surprise to most Angelenos that Los Angeles is one of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the country. Hit and runs have become a serious issue, with almost 20,000 cases reported a year. Sadly, pedestrian accidents account for approximately one-third of traffic fatalities in Los Angeles. This shocking statistic is nearly three times the national average for hit and run accidents.

Fortunately, the state of California offers protections for pedestrians who are injured after a pedestrian accident. If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The experienced team of Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers will recover all the compensation you are entitled to so that you can focus on your recovery and on the people you care most about.

Right-of-Way Laws Affecting Pedestrians and Drivers

Before we discuss the most common causes of many pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles, let’s address a few key laws that affect both pedestrian and driver safety. These laws are crucial because a pedestrian accident lawyer will consider them when determining who is at-fault for causing the incident. According to CVC 21949:

  • Drivers must always yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing a roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
  • Drivers should never stop within a crosswalk. This will force the pedestrian to walk around the vehicle, which can be very dangerous.
  • Pedestrians are never allowed to jaywalk. If a driver is involved in a car accident because he or she was attempting to avoid a jaywalker, the jaywalking pedestrian would be held liable for any losses caused.
  • Drivers must never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. That stopped driver may be waiting for a pedestrian to cross safely.
  • Drivers are only allowed to drive on a sidewalk when entering or exiting a garage or alleyway. Drivers must still yield to any pedestrians when doing so.

Common Pedestrian Accident Causes

What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Most pedestrian accidents are caused by driver negligence. However, there are many circumstances that contribute to a pedestrian being injured when knocked to the ground.

Below are several causes of pedestrian knockdown incidents:

  • Skateboarders on a sidewalk
  • Runners on a sidewalk
  • Distracted pedestrians not watching the road
  • Uncontrolled or unleashed dogs
  • Large groups of people on a sidewalk
  • Trucks or buses with large side mirrors that extend into a sidewalk
  • Parked cars suddenly opening their doors
  • Bicyclists on a sidewalk
  • Physical altercations
  • Children running around or rough-housing

A vast majority of pedestrian accidents revolve around right-of-way violations. However, just because a pedestrian is aware of his or her surroundings and is following the law does not necessarily mean he or she has the right-of-way. Furthermore, it’s important to understand that a pedestrian who crosses a street and does not have the right-of-way will not be exempt from liability if their acts contribute towards causing a car accident.

In essence: every driver and pedestrian has a legally mandated responsibility. All drivers must use reasonable care to avoid hitting any pedestrians, and all pedestrians must use reasonable care to safely cross a street.

Right-of-way laws are intended to promote pedestrian and driver safety. For example, the penalty for a driver who doesn’t yield right-of-way to a pedestrian is at least $220, if injuries are involved. The penalty for not yielding to a blind pedestrian is more severe: a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in prison, or possibly both.

Every driver and pedestrian on public roads is required by law to be aware of their surroundings. It’s true that following right-of-way laws may absolve a driver of criminal wrongdoing, but this will not minimize fault. A driver has a duty of care to minimize the risk of hitting a jaywalker, even if that driver had a green light and the pedestrian didn’t bother using a crosswalk to walk across a street.

A pedestrian also cannot:

  • Step off a curb when a car is nearby
  • Stop in the middle of an intersection, or
  • Block traffic even when they do have the right-of-way

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

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award is 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 percent of all verdicts.

Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a pedestrian accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate 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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