Car vs. Pedestrian Accident: Who Is at Fault?

pedestrian crossing

Car vs. Pedestrian Accident: Who Is at Fault?

Car accidents involving pedestrians are often devastating, and the pedestrian typically ends up with much more severe injuries than the vehicle occupants. Driver negligence is a leading cause of pedestrian accidents, although pedestrian negligence can also be a contributing factor. In some cases, pedestrians may be found partially at fault for an accident, however, they may still be able to pursue compensation for their injuries and losses.

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly and consult with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. A personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation for your injuries and losses. Read on to learn about how liability is determined in a pedestrian-car accident.


What is a Pedestrian?

A pedestrian is considered any person traveling on foot, whether walking, running, jogging, on roller skates or a skateboard, or using assistive devices like wheelchairs. Pedestrians are vulnerable road users because they have no protection against motor vehicles, and they often walk in areas where vehicles travel such as intersections and parking lots.


Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

The pedestrian fatality rate in California is about 25% higher than the national average. In urban areas with dense traffic like Pasadena, pedestrian accidents are unfortunately common.

Distracted Driving

Drivers distracted by phones, passengers, or other activities may fail to notice pedestrians, which can result in a deadly collision. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 644 nonoccupants (pedestrians, pedal cyclists, and others) killed in distraction-affected traffic crashes in 2021.

Driving Under the Influence

Each day, about 37 people are killed in drunk-driving crashes across the US. Impaired drivers pose a significant risk to pedestrians due to impaired judgment, decreased reaction times, and erratic driving behavior.


Speeding is a leading factor in traffic deaths in California. There were 1,509 speeding-related traffic fatalities in 2021. Excessive speed significantly reduces a driver’s ability to react quickly to a hazard and stop suddenly, if necessary.

Disregard for Traffic Laws

Pedestrian signs and signals require drivers to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Failure to obey traffic signals, yield signs, or pedestrian crossings can result in serious pedestrian accidents.

Failure to Yield

Drivers failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks or intersections can lead to severe injuries or fatalities. According to California law, pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks.

Poor Visibility and Inclement Weather

Reduced visibility due to darkness, fog, rain, or snow can make it challenging for both drivers and pedestrians to see each other.


Pedestrian Hit by Car: Who is Liable?

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All road users must uphold their duty of care, which is a legal duty to follow traffic laws and use reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. Sometimes it’s easy to determine who is liable for a pedestrian vs car accident.

If the driver acted negligently or violated traffic laws leading to the accident, they may be held liable for the pedestrian’s injuries. For example, if the driver ran a red light and hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the driver is at fault.

In other situations, determining liability is more difficult. For example, if a pedestrian crosses a street outside of a marked crosswalk, it is considered jaywalking. Pedestrians also have a duty to exercise reasonable care for their safety and should cross the street when it is safe and legal to do so.

Therefore, if a pedestrian darts into traffic, ignores crossing signals, or behaves recklessly, they may share responsibility for the accident. Even if an injured pedestrian is partially liable, they may pursue compensation for their losses in a personal injury claim. A California pedestrian accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the accident, gather compelling evidence, deal with the driver’s insurance company, and work to recover the maximum compensation.


California Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws

In California, pedestrians have certain rights and responsibilities to ensure their safety on the roads.

  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections.
  • If there is a limit line before the crosswalk, vehicles must stop at the limit line and allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and crosswalk signs indicating when it’s safe to cross.
  • Pedestrians should use sidewalks when available and walk facing traffic on roads without sidewalks.


School Bus Laws

school bus driver

Special precautions apply to school buses and the safety of pedestrians, especially children:

  • California law requires drivers to stop for school buses loading or unloading children, whether on the same side of the road or across a divided highway. Drivers cannot pass stopped school buses displaying flashing red lights and an extended stop signal arm.
  • Drivers must yield to pedestrians and obey crossing guards directing traffic near schools and crosswalks.


California Comparative Negligence Laws

California follows a comparative negligence system, which means that fault can be divided among multiple parties based on their degree of negligence. Therefore, if a pedestrian shares some fault for an accident, they can still recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

However, their compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if the injured pedestrian is found to be 10% at fault and their losses are $100,000, they may only recover $90,000 from the defendant.

Both the pedestrian and driver must present evidence to establish the other’s negligence. A personal injury lawyer can help you gather compelling evidence such as witness testimonies, traffic camera footage, or police reports to prove liability and recover the maximum compensation available in your case.


What is Pedestrian Negligence in California?

Pedestrian negligence refers to actions or behaviors that contribute to or cause an accident. Examples of pedestrian negligence include:

  • Crossing the street outside designated crosswalks or against traffic signals.
  • Disregarding pedestrian signs or signals indicating when it’s safe to cross.
  • Suddenly darting into the roadway or unmarked crosswalk.
  • Walking while intoxicated or impaired can significantly impair judgment and reaction times.


Common Injuries Sustained in Pedestrian-Car Accidents

Common pedestrian accident injuries include:

Fractures and Broken Bones: The impact of a car accident can cause bones to break or shatter, often requiring extensive medical treatment.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): Head trauma from hitting the vehicle or the ground can result in concussions, contusions, or severe traumatic brain injuries.

Spinal Cord Injuries: Damage to the spinal cord can result in partial or complete paralysis.

Soft Tissue Injuries: Bruises, lacerations, and muscle strains are common due to the force of impact.

Internal Injuries: Damage to internal organs from blunt force trauma can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.


What Damages Can Injured Victims Recover in Pedestrian Accident Cases?

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Injured pedestrians may be entitled to various types of damages to compensate for their losses, including:

Medical Expenses: Coverage for hospital bills, surgery costs, medication, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care related to the accident.

Lost Income: Compensation for wages lost due to missed work during recovery or disability resulting from the accident.

Pain and Suffering: Damages for physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life caused by the accident and resulting injuries.

Property Damage: Reimbursement for repair or replacement of damaged personal belongings, such as clothing or cell phones.

Wrongful Death: In cases where a pedestrian dies as a result of the accident, surviving family members may pursue damages for funeral expenses, loss of income, and loss of companionship.


Contact a California Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

Navigating the legal complexities of a pedestrian-car accident can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with injuries and the other party’s insurance company. An experienced California pedestrian accident lawyer can help protect your rights and maximize your chances of obtaining fair compensation.

At Rose Accident Lawyers, our team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to helping injured victims recover the compensation they deserve. Our Pasadena personal injury law firm maintains a 99% success rate and has won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Call us today for a free consultation.