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Home  »  California LawPersonal Injury   »   Pedestrian Laws in California

Pedestrian Laws in California

In California, it’s incredibly dangerous to be a pedestrian. In fact, almost a full quarter of all traffic accidents in this state involve a pedestrian fatality. Despite the fact that CA is notoriously reliant on “car culture” and is a traffic-heavy place, that figure is far too high for anyone’s comfort.

So, what causes so many personal injuries in the Golden State? The answer is still unclear, but it likely has to do with a combination of driver distraction, confusingly laid out urban roadways, and a lack of knowledge about pedestrian laws in California.

If we were to ask you to name a pedestrian law in CA, you would probably be able to think of just one thing: “pedestrians always have the right of way.” While that’s generally true, there are definitely some gray areas to that concept that make pedestrian incidents a hot, contentious topic for insurers and state legislators alike.

For example, the way California Vehicle Code 21950 actually reads is: drivers “shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.”

In other words, if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, or crossing the street at the corner where you would normally expect a crosswalk to be (even if it isn’t painted on the ground), the pedestrian definitely has the right of way. In fact, if a driver has the chance to slow down for a pedestrian, they must do so — no matter what. However, the law goes on to stipulate an important caveat:

“No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

In other words, a driver isn’t at fault if you had zero awareness of your surroundings and decided to suddenly leap into oncoming traffic. This makes sense, of course, because drivers aren’t superhuman: they can only do so much to prevent an accident if a pedestrian is being careless.

As you can see, the law in California is very clear about the two extremes: cases where pedestrians definitely have the right of way; and cases where drivers definitely had no chance to avoid a pedestrian suddenly leaving the curb.

However, this leaves a huge gap in interpretations for cases that are more of a gray area: where a driver believes they had no chance to avert an accident, for example, but a pedestrian claims that they were clearly visible and not acting recklessly. In these cases, what can be done?

Insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid liability in these so-called gray area pedestrian cases. If you were involved in an accident along these lines, a qualified pedestrian accident layer in California like the ones at Dordulian Law Group can help you achieve monetary compensation for your injuries and suffering.

Remember, in your quest to achieve rightful compensation for your injuries, you need a legal advocate in your corner to push back against the insurance company (or other party in the accident) who is going to try and maximize your liability and minimize their own obligation.

If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident in California, Dordulian Law wants to hear from you. We’re standing by, ready to tirelessly represent you and demand the restitution you deserve after experiencing such a traumatic accident. Don’t try to go it alone: enlist the help of veteran legal counsel to increase your likelihood of finding a silver lining after a pedestrian incident.