Who Is Responsible for a Crosswalk Accident?
As trusted attorneys in Orange County, we know that serious accidents cause more than physical injuries—they damage your finances, well-being, and state of mind, too. Our law firm can help you explore your options for legal recourse. Schedule a free consultation today.
One of the first lessons we teach our children is that crossing the street can be dangerous. Before stepping onto a road, it’s important to find a safe place to cross—typically a marked crosswalk—and wait until the signal says walk. But even then, you still need to look both ways.
Unfortunately, even when pedestrians do everything right, they can still be struck by a vehicle while using a crosswalk. When a moving vehicle makes contact with someone on foot, there is a high potential for catastrophic injuries.
As you can imagine, recovering from the effects of pedestrian injuries is often a costly, time-consuming process. It may require weeks away from work, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Who is going to pay for all of that?
Hopefully, the person responsible for the crosswalk accident will be held liable for resulting damages, but that’s not always what happens.
Unless a crosswalk accident victim obtains legal representation and sues the negligent party, they may be left to deal with the aftermath on their own. Luckily, that doesn’t have to be your reality.
If you suffered serious injuries in a crosswalk accident caused by someone else, you deserve compensation. The first step in securing a settlement is to partner with an Orange County personal injury attorney to determine the at-fault party. This article will explain everything you need to know about liability in crosswalk accidents, including your options for legal action and compensation.
Understanding Crosswalk Accidents in California
Although crosswalk accidents can occur between moving vehicles, this article will focus on crosswalk accidents involving pedestrians, as these events are typically devastating and result in serious damage. Note that a pedestrian isn’t necessarily someone on foot; under California law, pedestrians include people using mobility devices and certain recreational equipment.
Crosswalk accidents vary widely in severity and can occur in both marked and unmarked crosswalks. Whereas marked crosswalks are usually located at intersections and designed with painted lines and signage, unmarked crosswalks are anywhere sidewalks meet an intersection. A crossing point does not have to be marked to be considered a legal crosswalk.
Common Causes of Crosswalk Accidents
Although myriad factors can contribute to crosswalk accidents, some are more common than others. Here are some of the most frequently cited causes:
- Distracted driving. Driving while distracted by a phone, the radio, other passengers, etc., is extremely dangerous. Thousands of people in the U.S. lose their lives to distracted driving accidents every year, including pedestrians.
- Speeding. Speed limits are typically lower in areas of high pedestrian traffic, and when drivers fail to adjust their speed accordingly, they risk hitting someone on a crosswalk.
- Failure to yield. According to California Vehicle Code 21950, pedestrians have the right of way in marked and unmarked crosswalks, and drivers are required to yield. Failure to do so can result in a serious crosswalk accident.
- Poor visibility and environmental factors. Crosswalk accidents occur more frequently at night and when visibility is reduced due to weather, inadequate lighting, or obstructed views.
- Driver negligence. Speeding, distracted driving, failing to yield, driving under the influence, and other negligent driving behaviors put pedestrians at risk.
- Pedestrian actions. Similarly, jaywalking, crossing against traffic signals, crossing suddenly, crossing without looking for cars, and other irresponsible pedestrian behaviors can lead to crosswalk accidents.
- Poor road design. Roads that lack adequate signage, properly marked crosswalks, signage, and signals can result in serious crosswalk injuries.
Any driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, or other party can contribute to a crosswalk accident. Figuring out who is responsible for a crosswalk accident typically requires working with a legal professional knowledgeable in California’s liability laws.
Determining Liability in Crosswalk Accident Lawsuits
If you were seriously injured while crossing the street, you may be able to pursue compensation through a crosswalk accident lawsuit. One of the first tasks your attorney will tackle is pinpointing who they believe is the at-fault party, which is often challenging without a deep understanding of California negligence laws.
As with injury lawsuits, determining liability in crosswalk accident cases requires numerous considerations.
Here are four critical factors to look at when assessing liability:
- Negligence and duty of care. In the world of personal injury law, most cases revolve around negligence. Simply put, a party is considered negligent if they fail to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would in the same situation. The at-fault party may be liable for any resulting damages if found negligent.
- Driver responsibilities. According to traffic laws, a driver may be held liable for a pedestrian’s injuries and related losses if they failed to drive responsibly. A California driver must observe traffic signals, yield to pedestrians, travel at a responsible speed, maintain control of their vehicle, and avoid distractions and impairment. They may be considered liable if they failed to do these things and caused an accident.
- Pedestrian responsibilities. Drivers aren’t the only ones responsible for crosswalk accidents—pedestrians must also exercise caution and reasonable behavior to avoid liability. Pedestrians must obey traffic signals, use crosswalks when available, enter the street cautiously, exercise awareness, and avoid walking while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Comparative negligence. California follows the legal doctrine of pure comparative negligence, meaning that a plaintiff can sue for the percentage of damages attributable to the defendant. Although injured pedestrians can still sue if they were partially at fault for the accident, their potential settlement will be limited by their degree of fault.
Determining who is responsible for a California crosswalk accident is difficult without help from a personal injury attorney in Orange County. A top-quality legal expert can help you pinpoint the following after an accident:
- At-fault party
- Conduct a thorough investigation
- Calculate damages
- Draft settlement demands
- Gather testimonies from expert witnesses and eyewitnesses
- Present your case to the court, and much more.