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Drivers can be considered responsible for crashes involving drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, running stop signs or red lights, and more. To receive damages for a pedestrian-involved accident, victims must prove that the driver who hit them was at-fault. In most cases, motorists claim pedestrians are to blame for the accident.

But what happens if a pedestrian’s actions cause a car accident? Can they be held liable? Often, acts of negligence that put other road users at risk are blamed on motorists. Pedestrians can also commit reckless or careless actions by breaking traffic laws that apply to them.

Pedestrian Negligent Actions That Can Result in an Accident

Los Angeles, California, is the second-most dangerous metropolitan for pedestrians in the U.S., states a report by the LA Times. Within ten years (2011 to 2020), there were 1,133 pedestrian-involved fatalities in Los Angeles. These numbers account for nearly 50% of all traffic-related injuries and deaths in the city before the pandemic. The city has made numerous infrastructure improvements to increase traffic safety. Even so, LA remains a densely populated area, with heavily trafficked multi-lane streets that are generally unsafe for pedestrians. Here are situations where a pedestrian may be at fault and, therefore, can be liable for contributing to or causing an accident:

  • Jaywalking
  • Attempting to cross at a mid-block area
  • Crossing outside a designated crosswalk
  • Walking in places where pedestrians are prohibited
  • Failing to look right and left before crossing the street
  • Ignoring traffic walk signals and crossing the road at a red light
  • Crossing the street dangerously while inebriated

While motorists are usually at fault in pedestrian accidents, it isn’t always the case, as noted above. Determining fault in such cases is not always ascertainable. However, California is a pure comparative negligence state, and when clear proof is available, pedestrians can be held partially liable for causing a car accident.

You’ll need to take certain steps following a pedestrian-involved accident to prove that a person was intoxicated, ignored traffic walk signals, or didn’t use a crosswalk properly. You first need a personal injury lawyer with extensive experience dealing with pedestrian accidents to help you navigate California’s complex legislation. Next, you must seek medical attention and ensure you document the accident scene in detail, not forgetting to collect witness statements and police reports.

Importance of Legal Representation in Pedestrian Accidents

Proving you are not to blame for a pedestrian-involved accident is essential for your case, and hiring an experienced attorney can increase your chances of winning. Your lawyer understands California’s pedestrian laws, and a person can be completely or partially at fault when it comes to pedestrian crashes. Right-of-way laws are in place to regulate pedestrian safety. 

However, right-of-way laws can free a motorist of a traffic offense when these laws are obeyed—but they may not minimize fault. For example, if an intoxicated pedestrian does not use a crosswalk when a vehicle has a green light, the driver still has a duty of care to prevent an accident with a jaywalker. Both pedestrians and motorists must be aware of their surroundings and act safely.

People can’t unexpectedly step off a curb in the middle of a busy intersection or block traffic at a crosswalk and not expect to face legal consequences. An attorney can prove negligent acts on the pedestrian’s or driver’s part. Additionally, a driver may be held responsible based on California’s comparative negligence rule, even when the pedestrian is only partially at-fault. Below is an example. 

Example of a Pedestrian Being Liable

A pedestrian is jaywalking and enters an unmarked crosswalk. Meanwhile, a drunk driver is driving too fast, hits the pedestrian and injures them. The pedestrian and motorist will share some degree of fault. A jury may determine that the driver was 70% at-fault and the pedestrian was 30% responsible for the accident. The reasoning behind a jury’s decision is that a sober driver may have seen the jaywalker, and an alert pedestrian would have avoided a collision. Even if the pedestrian sues that driver, their total awarded damages will be reduced by 30%.

Interpretation of California’s Comparative Negligence Rule

California comparative negligence law applies when assigning fault to parties involved in an accident. The driver and pedestrian will share a degree of fault because their negligent actions contributed to the collision. Unless a pedestrian or motorist is 100% responsible for a crash, a California court must allocate percentages of culpability to the involved parties.

While an injured pedestrian is entitled to damages under pure comparative negligence, available compensation will be reduced by a percentage equal to their shared accident responsibility. Furthermore, the injured pedestrian can be legally responsible for damages if they are 20% at fault while the driver is 80% for a pedestrian accident.

Note that being partially liable doesn’t necessarily stop a plaintiff or defendant from seeking compensation, but it does impact the recoverable amount. To that end, seeking legal representation from an expert personal injury lawyer is advisable. The right lawyer can ensure you don’t compromise your chances of receiving a fair settlement and can help negotiate with the other party’s insurance company for damages.

Consult a Skilled California Pedestrian Accident Lawyer at Kash Legal

Motorists and pedestrians have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid causing a vehicle collision or harming other road users. In California, pedestrians can be found guilty of contributing to or causing an accident, but determining fault is still not always easy. Also, California uses a comparative negligence law that holds multiple parties liable for the accident.

If you’re unsure of your role in an accident, a Kash Legal attorney can evaluate your case to determine the percentage of fault. Call a personal injury lawyer at (888) 527-4128 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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