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Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents and What Damages Are Available in a Personal Injury Claim

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable when it comes to traffic collisions. Motorists are given metal barriers, seat belts, and airbags as protection to reduce the likelihood of sustaining life-threatening injuries, however, pedestrians have nothing barricading them from an accident.

Even though right-of-way laws have been established to keep pedestrians safe, it is not always guaranteed that drivers will follow these rules and regulations. Unfortunately, Newport Beach has had its cases of pedestrian accidents. A majority of them have involved reckless drivers who have chosen to go against the rules of the road.The most common pedestrian accidents that have occurred within the city include the following:

In order to reduce the likelihood of getting involved in a pedestrian accident, a pedestrian should consider taking the actions listed below:

  • Maintain eye contact with drivers prior to crossing the street to ensure that they are fully aware of your presence.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street to check for any oncoming vehicles.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing when going out for a walk at night to make yourself appear more visible to drivers. 
  • If no sidewalks are available, walk on the far right side of the road. 
  • If you are in a parking lot, observe your surroundings and keep an eye out for any parked vehicles that are attempting to back up. 

If you or a loved one were involved in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for damages. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our Newport Beach pedestrian accident attorneys have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. We have successfully won over 5,000 cases and recovered more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients. Due to our achievements, we have been ranked as one of the top personal injury law firms in Newport Beach.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at our Newport Beach personal injury law firm, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling  (949) 822-9593 or emailing info@westcoasttriallawyers.com.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

While pedestrians are navigating their way through the city on foot, they could be met with some obstacles that may put them in harm’s way. Below, we have listed common factors that have been known to threaten a pedestrian’s safety. 

Negligent Drivers

Driver negligence typically plays a major factor in pedestrian accidents. Drivers are expected to provide a duty of care to pedestrians by obeying traffic laws, however, negligence is often committed. This includes speeding, driving while under the influence, texting and driving, or disobeying traffic signs and lights. 

Based on 2019 data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 82 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents took place in urban settings, while 73 percent occurred on open roads. Unfortunately, pedestrians are often left vulnerable when going out for a walk, especially in areas where there is a high volume of traffic. 

Once it becomes dark outside, chances of a pedestrian accident are far more likely to occur. According to the NHTSA, about 80 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during dark lighting conditions. 

Defective Traffic Signals

Defective traffic signals can be dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians. If a traffic light is giving wrong signals or is unresponsive, it could cause drivers to make decisions that can affect the safety of other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.


If you were involved in a pedestrian accident due to faulty traffic signals, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the city. In order to do so, you will need to show proof of the city’s negligence and that their negligence created hazardous conditions, which ultimately resulted in your injuries.

If negligence cannot be proven, then you will need to show that the city was aware of or should have been aware of the hazardous condition, but did not take any reasonable action to resolve the problem. 

What does reasonable action mean? It means repairing the hazardous conditions in a timely fashion, but it can also mean notifying pedestrians to be aware of potential danger. 

Common types of defective traffic signals that have been known to cause pedestrian accidents include the following:

  • Malfunctioning signals. A transportation department is required to warn motorists and pedestrians about any malfunctions. Liability can be incurred if there are not enough warnings given about potential hazards.

  • Conflicting signals. Cities may attempt to invoke immunity from liability if a conflicting traffic signal causes a pedestrian to get involved in an accident. However, if traffic signals were not positioned properly, immunity may not be applicable and a city or public entity can still be held responsible for damages caused by their negligence.

  • Not enough time to safely cross. If traffic signals are not properly programmed to allow a pedestrian enough time to safely cross the street, it could place pedestrians at a higher risk of getting into an accident. The city can be held accountable for any injuries that were caused by programming errors.

  • Poorly placed traffic signs. Traffic signs that are placed in areas where it cannot be clearly seen could increase the likelihood of an accident occurring, whether it be a car accident, pedestrian accident, or motorcycle accident. The city or public entity can be held liable for any injuries or damages. A city may counter by claiming that the injured pedestrian suffered injuries because of their own negligence and not because of the poorly placed stop sign. However, in most cases, a city can be held responsible for injuries caused as a result of a poorly placed stop sign.

 

Other Factors

Other factors, besides drivers, that have caused pedestrian accidents include the following:

  • 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 to 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. Even though a pedestrian is aware of their surroundings and abides by traffic laws, they should still exercise a duty of care by remaining alert at all times in order to avoid getting into an accident. Pedestrians who cross a street and do not have the right-of-way to do so will not be exempt from liability if their actions contributed to the cause of an 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.

The objective of creating right-of-way laws was 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.

All drivers and pedestrians are required by law to be aware of their surroundings in order to maintain a safe environment. 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 has a duty of care to not step off a curb when a vehicle is nearby, stop in the middle of an intersection, or block traffic even if they have the right-of-way.

Available 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 are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. It is 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, and lost wages.

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. This may include compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

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. It is relatively rare and, in fact, is only incorporated in about 5 percent 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.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident as a result of someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible for your losses. A Newport Beach pedestrian accident attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Reach out to us today by calling (949) 822-9593 or emailing info@westcoasttriallawyers.com to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team. 

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