Jul 21, 2021
Both Los Angeles, as well and the state of California as a whole, are notorious for car accidents involving pedestrians. As LAist.com reported, in 2019, 134 people were killed by drivers while walking in Los Angeles. That statistic equates to approximately one death every two-and-a-half days. Moreover, it represents a nearly 55% increase over five years (with 87 pedestrian deaths having occurred in 2014). And those figures don’t take into account the hundreds of additional pedestrians who are injured by drivers each year.
Throughout California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reported that in 2018, 893 pedestrians were killed on state roadways – a 26% increase from 2014. There were also 18,000 pedestrians injured in California that year. And from 2009 to 2018, almost 7,500 California pedestrian fatalities were recorded.
When pedestrian accidents happen, the resulting injuries (or fatalities in some tragic cases) frequently lead to personal injury civil lawsuits. But is the driver always at fault in a pedestrian-involved car accident? Is it possible for someone to hit a pedestrian with their car and not be found liable under the law?
This blog will explore all those questions and more, including how to file a civil lawsuit for a pedestrian or car accident injury in pursuit of financial compensation for losses such as medical and hospital expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
This is a very common question, and the answer can actually vary depending on the state where the pedestrian accident occurs. California is what’s known as a pure comparative negligence (or comparative fault) state. That means that in personal injury claims – including car and pedestrian accidents – a percentage of fault is assigned by the courts to each involved party.
Accordingly, unless one of the involved parties – driver or pedestrian for our purposes – is 100% at fault for the accident, liability will be shared. Moreover, when liability is shared, that means that both parties may be eligible to recover financial compensation. For example, if a driver is found to be 95% responsible for a pedestrian accident, but the court deems that remaining 5% of liability falls on the injured pedestrian, the driver could actually recover financial compensation in a personal injury civil lawsuit.
However, rather than literally receiving a sum of money for the accident (with the majority of the financial settlement or verdict going to the injured pedestrian), the ultimate damages award would likely be reduced by 5% – meaning that instead of paying a $10,000 settlement to the victim, the majority at-fault driver would pay $9,500. Essentially, under California’s comparative fault law, the court reduces the final financial damages award issued to the victim by whatever percentage of fault that individual may share.
So, in that regard, a pedestrian can be at fault for a car accident. The percentage of fault assigned to a pedestrian, however, depends on the circumstances of the case. Let’s look at the four elements of personal injury law claims to better understand how different scenarios can determine the percentage of fault assigned to the driver and the pedestrian.
In order to recover financial compensation for injuries in a pedestrian car accident case, the California court system expects the plaintiff and their attorney to produce four elements proving the liability of the defendant (or defendants). As a victim who has just suffered an injury in a pedestrian car accident, you may be wondering how to go about proving that the other party was actually at fault. This is one of many reasons why having an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer can be so important, as they have the training and skill necessary to help uncover critical details of a pedestrian accident that can ultimately prove fault and win your case. To do so, your pedestrian accident lawyer will have to demonstrate the four elements of a personal injury claim. Those elements include:
1) A Duty of Care Existed: You’ve more than likely heard of the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors – essentially a promise to “do no harm.” But you may not know that a duty of care can actually extend to any profession (or location). For example, hotel property owners (or even Airbnb renters) have a duty to their guests to provide a safe space to visit, sleep, and enjoy their leisure time. Additionally, a car manufacturer has a duty of care to its customers to provide vehicles that can be operated safely. Even government agencies must uphold their duty of care to constituents.
And as drivers and pedestrians sharing the roads, we all have a duty of care to travel safely and in a manner that will not harm one another. Given that responsibility we all share, when a pedestrian accident occurs and someone suffers an injury, it must be clear that the at-fault party is, at least in part, liable for any people he or she encounters.
2) The Duty of Care Was Breached: When a defendant breaches a duty of care, it must be obvious that they both understood the duty of care existed, and that they should have done more to prevent an accident or injury from occurring. As an example, the recent collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Florida, was a tragedy of epic proportion, with 97 fatalities currently reported and dozens of additional injuries.
The property owners and management company were, of course, automatically aware that they had a duty of care to maintain a safe living space for residents. However, if it can be proven that the property owners or management company knew that repairs were required and, more importantly, did not take any action despite having that knowledge, a duty of care was almost certainly breached (and as a result, both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed).
In the case of a pedestrian accident, drivers have a clear duty of care to not injure anyone traveling through a crosswalk (when the pedestrian has the right of way) or at a stop sign. But if a pedestrian is jaywalking and looking down at their phone and a car accident suddenly occurs, it would be hard for the pedestrian’s attorney to make the argument that the driver truly breached their duty of care. However, given California’s comparative negligence laws, it’s important to remember that unless one party is 100% responsible for a pedestrian accident, a portion of liability will be assigned to each individual involved.
3) An Injury Occurred as a Result of the Breached Duty of Care: In order to successfully recover financial compensation in a civil claim, the plaintiff (known as the claimant in a personal injury lawsuit) must suffer injuries at the time of the incident in question. If an injury develops after an accident, the victim’s attorney must prove that the resulting conditions were set in motion on the date of the incident.
In most pedestrian accident cases, the injuries are immediately apparent (cars and trucks can wreak havoc on an unprotected person walking down a busy street). But if those injuries happen to develop at a later date – perhaps the pedestrian hits his or her head but feels fine in the immediate aftermath of the accident, only to later develop concussion-like symptoms that eventually progresses into a more serious condition – the victim’s attorney will need to prove that the accident was in fact responsible for said injury.
In such cases, a medical expert may be consulted to help tie an injured pedestrian’s delayed condition to the accident. This is an excellent example of why it’s always advisable to seek immediate medical attention after any type of accident. Doing so establishes an official record of the incident and can help in proving the link between the breached duty of care and the injury.
4) Direct Cause Can be Established: When your personal injury attorney develops the legal strategy for your pedestrian accident claim, they must demonstrate that the at-fault individual’s actions caused your injury (or injuries). Without tying these two precepts together, a pedestrian accident victim likely does not have a strong enough claim to successfully recover financial compensation. But an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer from Dordulian Law Group (DLG) will review your rights and all available options under the law during a free consultation, working with you to develop a winning legal strategy that proves the four elements of your case.
When you consider the above mentioned four elements of a personal injury claim, it’s easier to predict what portion of liability you may share as either the driver or pedestrian in a car accident. California’s comparative negligence, as well as the circumstances of the incident (who had the right of way, whether the driver was speeding or driving recklessly, whether the pedestrian was distracted) all play a role in how a personal injury civil claim will play out (including the ultimate financial compensation that will be awarded).
That said, as a driver who hits a pedestrian, don’t automatically assume you’re 100% at fault and that an experienced attorney won’t be able to help reduce your liability. Conversely, as the injured pedestrian, don’t automatically assume that you have an “open-and-shut” case simply because you aren’t the driver.
Even if the driver was primarily at fault, you’ll still need to prove your claim in court, and that’s where having a skilled and proven personal injury attorney like Sam Dordulian can be an immense advantage.
At Dordulian Law Group (DLG), we’ve helped countless injured pedestrians, drivers, and passengers recover the maximum financial compensation they need to make a complete recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially. Founded by a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County – Sam Dordulian – DLG offers injured victims peace of mind with our 98% success record and history of recovering more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for clients like you.
When you reach out to DLG after a pedestrian accident injury, we’ll listen to the facts of your case, launch a thorough investigation led by our in-house Chief Investigator – Moses Castillo, a retired LAPD Central Traffic Division detective – and develop a precise legal strategy based on our decades of combined experience and past success helping hundreds of victims secure the maximum damages awards they deserve.
Whether you’re a pedestrian injured by a distracted driver, or a driver who suffered an injury in an accident caused by a jaywalker, we’ll fight to ensure your claim reaches a successful conclusion. At DLG, we aggressively pursue all applicable losses suffered by injured pedestrian and car accident victims. When you suffer an injury, we’ll work tirelessly to recover both the economic and non-economic damages you deserve to make a complete recovery.
Examples of these personal injury claim damages can include:
Unlike settlement mill firms that may leave you with a lowball damages award which does not cover all of your financial losses, at DLG we fight to secure maximum financial compensation for each and every client. And with Sam Dordulian’s courtroom experience – including over 100 jury trial victories – we’re never forced to accept an unfair settlement offer from an at-fault party or their insurance company.
When presented with anything less than a maximum financial offer for an injured client’s claim, we take the case to trial and fight to prove it before a jury. With Dordulian’s extensive litigation experience, DLG’s pedestrian accident victim clients have an added advantage and the confidence knowing that we’ll do whatever it takes to secure them the compensation they deserve – including take the case to trial.
Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 for a free consultation or to discuss your car accident or pedestrian injury claim. With our No Win/No Fee Guarantee, you never have to worry about upfront costs or our-of-pocket expenses. DLG clients pay nothing until we recover a maximum financial damages award on their behalf.
When searching for the most experienced and qualified pedestrian accident lawyer in the Los Angeles, California-area, be selective and ensure that you take the time required to carefully research an attorney’s win/loss record, total settlements and verdicts recovered, willingness or ability to take a case to trial, and more. Don’t put your important claim in the hands of an inexperienced or undedicated firm that could jeopardize the financial compensation you rightfully deserve. Choose the firm with an unparalleled level of experience, proven results, personalized attention, and compassion for its clients. For a pedestrian or car accident injury, the best call you can make is to DLG.
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