Statistics about Pedestrian Accidents compiled in 2008 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations, 4,378 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the United States. An additional 69,000 pedestrians were injured in motor vehicle accidents during the same time span.
This means that on average, 1 pedestrian is killed in traffic accidents every 120 minutes and 1 pedestrian is injured every 8 minutes. Most pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas (72%), at non-intersection locations (76%), in normal weather conditions (89%), and at night (70%). What are the rights of pedestrians in motor vehicle accidents?
Pedestrians Using Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks
Various California Vehicle Code sections have been created to protect the rights of pedestrians. California Vehicle Code, Section 21950, deals with Pedestrian Accidents in crosswalks. Pursuant to said section, a driver must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians “within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” Hence, under the law, a pedestrian using an “unmarked crosswalk at an intersection” is afforded the same protection as if he or she was using a “marked crosswalk.”
Pedestrians Struck on Sidewalks
Many times, a motorist eager to enter or exit a shopping center or a parking lot is in a hurry or simply not paying attention and end up striking a pedestrian in the sidewalk. In California, pedestrians on sidewalks are generally given right-of-way under California Vehicle Code, Section 21952, which states that motorists, before driving over or upon the sidewalk, must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
Vehicles Stopped at Crosswalks
Many times, drivers fail to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk because there is a car stopped in front of the crosswalk blocking the motorist’s view. Under California law, as set forth in Vehicle Code, Section 21951, whenever a vehicle has stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the road, the motorist of any other vehicle approaching from the rear must not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle. Hence, drivers approaching such intersections need to slow down and be aware of possible pedestrians crossing.
In California, courts have held that a driver of a vehicle owes a higher degree of care toward children who are pedestrians than those who are adult pedestrians. This is especially so in areas where one expects children to be present, such as residential areas, parks, playgrounds, schools and apartment buildings.
Insurance Companies’ Typical Defense Tactics
The typical argument used by insurance companies of drivers involved in pedestrian accidents is that the victim pedestrian “darted” out in front of the moving vehicle and should be partially, if not fully, at fault for the accident.
Physical and Emotional Injuries
Pedestrians involved in motor vehicle accidents generally suffer both physical and emotional injuries. Physical injuries can be very severe because the pedestrian is usually not protected and is struck by a vehicle traveling at high rate of speed which can only be categorized as nothing short of a “legal weapon.” Personal injuries in these cases can range from torn cartilages requiring surgery, broken bones and head injuries, to soft tissue injuries such as neck and back strains and sprains.
Additionally, victim pedestrians can suffer from emotional stress, including panic attacks, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Because of the defenses utilized by the driver’s insurance company and the severity of the injuries sustained by a pedestrian in a such a pedestrian accident, it is very important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can protect the rights of the injured pedestrian.
If you, as a pedestrian, have been struck by a moving vehicle, you should seek immediate medical attention. Additionally, please give us a call. We will provide you with an honest assessment and educate you as to your options.
There is never a fee unless there is recovery in the case.
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