Despite California laws aimed at protecting pedestrians, crossing the streets of California can be a dangerous business.
In 2019, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. hit a 30-year high. According to the most recent data from the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 228 pedestrian deaths in Kern County in 2020—112 of them in Bakersfield.
When two cars collide, the drivers are at least somewhat protected by seat belts, air bags, and their cars’ crumple zones, which are designed to absorb the impact of a crash. A pedestrian in a crosswalk has no such protection. Consequently, pedestrian accidents often result in devastating injuries.
If you or a loved one were hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk in California, it’s important to be familiar with California’s pedestrian laws, the steps you should take after a crosswalk accident, and what you can expect from a pedestrian crosswalk accident settlement.
As of January 1, 2023, California police are no longer ticketing pedestrians for jaywalking, but there are still detailed sections of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) covering the rights and responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians.
First, CVC Section 467 defines a pedestrian as:
Next, the law (CVC Section 275) defines a crosswalk in two ways:
It’s important to know this second, less familiar definition of a crosswalk because pedestrians have specific legal rights when crossing in a crosswalk. The legal definition of crosswalk includes unmarked crossings when you are proceeding from one sidewalk across a street to where the sidewalk continues.
California law specifies who has the right of way—pedestrians or vehicles—in several situations:
Although CVC Sections 21950, 21954, 21955, 21451, 21453, and 21456 all now state that a pedestrian shouldn’t be ticketed for violating these statutes, following the law may be an important factor in determining the at-fault party when a car hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
If you or a loved one were hit by a car while crossing the street in a crosswalk on a California street, the top priority is to get immediate medical attention for any injuries the victim sustained.
In addition, take the following steps:
California’s detailed laws on the interaction between cars and pedestrians at crosswalks can make it complicated to sort out who’s at fault in a pedestrian accident.
A pedestrian accident attorney can use all the information you collect to start building a case to get you the best settlement possible or, if necessary, go to trial.
Talking to a lawyer as soon as possible will also help ensure your claim or lawsuit is filed within California’s two-year statute of limitations on initiating a civil action for personal injury.
Every personal injury case hinges on proving who was at fault—or negligent—in the incident in question. California courts use a legal doctrine called pure comparative fault in civil cases.
Comparative fault means multiple parties can share responsibility for an accident. For example, a driver might be partially to blame for hitting a pedestrian who was jaywalking. But a jury might determine that the pedestrian was also somewhat at fault.
Pure comparative fault means that the damages you can collect for your injuries are reduced by whatever percentage of the blame you bear for an accident. For example, if a jury decides you were 10% at fault, you can only receive 90% of whatever damages are awarded.
If you were hit by a car as you crossed the street in a crosswalk, you may be able to collect economic and noneconomic damages and, in extraordinary cases, punitive damages.
Recovering from being hit by a car in a crosswalk is hard enough without the added pressure of dealing with insurance claims or a lawsuit on your own. The Bakersfield crosswalk accident lawyers of Chain | Cohn | Clark can relieve you of this burden, hold the at-fault driver accountable, and get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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