Tragically, 48 year old Wynona Mitchell lost her life while crossing the northbound lanes of Linda Vista Road recently. She was hit by three separate vehicles while crossing the road and not a single vehicle stopped at the scene. Although the incident is terrible, it is important to note that Ms. Mitchell was walking across the street in the dark and was also outside of the crosswalk in an unlit part of the street. That being said, a driver is never justified in fleeing the scene of an accident and may ultimately face criminal charges.
If the drivers face criminal prosecution, that will not resolve the issue of civil penalties. When a person is hit by a motorist, he or she may seek damages by suing the motorist in court. Earlier this year, we discussed ways that pedestrians can protect themselves. You can read more about that here.
If you have been injured in an auto-pedestrian accident or if a loved one was killed under such circumstances, an experienced attorney will be able to help you determine what damages you can claim and what defenses you may need to assert if the opposing parties claim that you were responsible for your own injuries.
Under California Law, Both Pedestrians and Drivers Have Rights and Obligations
Under California law, a driver of a vehicle must yield to any pedestrian crossing the road within a marked crosswalk or even an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. In yielding, the driver must exercise due care and slow down when approaching a pedestrian and additionally must perform any action necessary to ensure the safety of the person or people walking across the street.
As with the incident discussed above, sometimes multiple cars are a factor in the injury or death of a pedestrian. The statute further provides that a car approaching another car that is stopped for a pedestrian is prohibited from overtaking or passing the already stopped vehicle.
Sometimes, however, a pedestrian has a duty to yield to oncoming traffic. Examples of a situation where someone crossing the road does not have the right of way include:
- When a pedestrian leaves a crosswalk or sidewalk and runs into the path of a vehicle
- When a pedestrian unnecessarily blocks traffic even if within a crosswalk
- When a pedestrian crosses the road despite having access to a designated crossing bridge or tunnel
Additionally, pedestrians are prohibited from certain activities including:
- Walking in the road in the same direction as traffic in a business or residential area
- Standing in the roadway in order to solicit a ride from a driver of a vehicle
- Crossing a roadway in a manner that interferes with the movement of vehicles including skiing or tobogganing
Even though California’s Vehicle Code sets forth fairly specific examples of what both vehicles and pedestrians may do or are prohibited from doing, exceptions exist still yet when the pedestrian is blind. In order for the motorist to be made aware of the pedestrian’s condition, he or she must carry a predominately white cane or be using a guide dog.
If a pedestrian did contribute to his or her own injury, in California he or she may still recover from the defendant but the court may reduce the amount he or she can recover by the percentage of his or her contributory fault.
What is Your Pedestrian Accident Case Worth and Who Should You Sue?
If you or a loved one has been hit by a car in San Diego or the Southern California region, you will need to find an attorney familiar with the laws of the state and local municipalities. Additionally, you will need to know whether or not you have standing to sue the person or people who harmed your loved one. If you were directly injured in an accident caused by a negligent motorist, then you will be able to pursue legal action against that motorist and anyone else who contributed to your injury.
Sometimes, the driver who caused the injury will be acting in the course of his employment through either a private company or even a governmental entity. If this is the situation, then knowing who to bring the action against is paramount. Additionally, a motorist may initially appear to be at fault but the evidence later reveals that there was actually a malfunction with the mechanics of the vehicle that lead to the injury or death. In this situation, an experienced San Diego injury attorney would be sure to include the vehicle manufacturer in the lawsuit.
After you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, it is important not to speak to the other parties or agents of the other parties because they may try to convince you that the accident was your fault and that you should settle quickly for a sum much less than what you are owed.
The amount of damages a plaintiff may seek if they are injured by a vehicle in a pedestrian accident, or if a loved one is injured or killed, can be significant and include costs of past and future healthcare expenses, lost wages, and much more. Additionally, a plaintiff may be able to seek punitive damages if he or she can prove that the actions which caused the injury were malicious.
San Diego Injury Trial Lawyers Have Got You Covered
The experienced attorneys at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC have been achieving the best possible results for victims of injury accidents for over a decade and we understand that suffering from an injury can be debilitating both financially and emotionally. We are dedicated to providing you and your case with the detailed attention expected from competent and professional attorneys and will act as your advocate in communications with both the court and the opposing party.
Our dedicated team often handles pedestrian accidents and we know all too well the tricks that insurance companies often play in attempting to get you to settle a case quickly for less than it is worth. If you or your loved one has been injured or worse, please call us today for an initial consultation at no cost to you. We want to help you get what you need and deserve.