Environmental Conditions and Pedestrian Accident Liability
Proving Liability When Environmental Conditions Cause a Pedestrian Accident
The majority of pedestrian accidents are caused by negligent drivers, but that won’t always be the case. There are a variety of circumstances that can cause a pedestrian to be injured when being knocked down to the ground, such as bad weather. All drivers and pedestrians have a responsibility to one another: a driver must use reasonable care to avoid hitting a pedestrian, and a pedestrian must use reasonable care to safely cross a street. This applies regardless of weather conditions. Below, our experienced pedestrian accident lawyers will discuss what happens when environmental conditions contribute towards causing a pedestrian accident.
If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, our experienced team of 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.
Duty of Care and Liability
Regardless of environmental conditions, liability will be determined according to negligence, whether it be that of the driver’s, the pedestrian’s, or possibly both. A court of law will consider how much each individual involved in a pedestrian accident followed their legally mandated duty of care. In other words, what would a reasonable person do in similar circumstances, such as when it is raining or snowing?
Let’s consider an example. On a sunny day in the middle of the afternoon, a reasonable person would most likely drive at the speed limit, because there is no real reason to exercise extra caution. But what if heavy rain or dense fog prevent visibility? In that case, it’s expected for a driver to slow down, which is what a reasonable person should do. However, if that driver is speeding through a snowstorm, that would count as negligence on the driver’s behalf. Environmental conditions, including icy or poorly illuminated roads, all demand an added duty of care in order for a driver to have enough time to react to a pedestrian.
Let’s assume that a driver slows down below the speed limit to avoid hitting a pedestrian. How slow does a driver have to go to show that he or she was acting in a reasonable manner, in order to avoid liability? There is no clear cut answer.
In some circumstances, a court of law may decide that the driver did enough by slowing down in the first place. But if weather conditions were so bad that a reasonable driver would have pulled to the side of the road until visibility improved, then that driver can be held liable because their failure to pull over contributed towards causing an accident.
A pedestrian’s actions will also be analyzed when determining liability in an accident caused by environmental conditions. Poor weather will definitely affect the way a reasonable pedestrian should act given the circumstances. For example, did the pedestrian walk into the street or fail to use a crosswalk or a traffic signal? Were they wearing dark clothing that made it hard for a driver to see them?
In essence, a court of law will assess whether the driver and the pedestrian met their duty of care and whether they acted negligently. Given that California is a comparative liability state, a court of law will divide liability according to both parties’ negligence, regardless of weather conditions.
Proving the Driver Was Liable
An aggrieved pedestrian would have to prove that their accident was caused because a driver failed to use reasonable care given the environmental conditions present when the accident took place. In summary, a driver is responsible for adjusting their driving according to environmental conditions. As long as a pedestrian was walking safely, he or she would most likely not be held liable for an accident caused by driver negligence. Further, even if a pedestrian did contribute some degree of negligence towards causing an accident, he or she may still be able to qualify for damages.
Contact Us 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 experienced personal injury attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you get compensation for the losses you have suffered, which includes 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, no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.