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Know Your Rights as a Pedestrian in California

Pedestrian accident

Many areas of Los Angeles are very walkable, and with an abundance of warm, sunny days, it’s often much more appealing to walk than drive. Unfortunately, this comes with a major risk in California, as the state has one of the highest pedestrian death risks in the country.

During the first half of 2015, there were an overwhelming 347 pedestrian deaths in “The Golden State” — a 7% increase from the same time period in 2014, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. In total, 42% of all pedestrian deaths during this span occurred in California, Florida, Texas and New York, but these states represented just 33% of the U.S. population.

California working to improve pedestrian safety

An estimated 22% of all traffic fatalities in California are pedestrian deaths. The state is working to make the sidewalks and roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. In 2015, 13 grants were implemented to fund pedestrian safety projects, totaling $3 million. That number is expected to rise to $4 million in 2016, funding 21 local and five statewide initiatives.

Santa Monica is installing 11 scramble crosswalks in the downtown area during the next year, designed to help eliminate traffic-related fatalities. Installed at the perpetually busy Hollywood and Highland intersection in 2015, these innovative crosswalks help pedestrians safely cross the street in all directions. West Hollywood has also taken strides to make its streets safer for pedestrians by installing signs between traffic lanes on Santa Monica Blvd. alerting drivers they’re approaching a crosswalk.

Pedestrian rights in California

Simply being hit by a moving vehicle is not enough for a pedestrian to establish fault in an accident. If neither party is willing to take the blame, the decision will be made by law enforcement and insurance adjustors, who will talk to witnesses and carefully survey the scene to determine the exact cause of the incident.

California has right of way laws designed to protect pedestrians, including:

  • Drivers must give pedestrians the right of way at both marked crosswalks and unmarked intersections.
  • Drivers are required to slow down when approaching an intersection.
  • If a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or an unmarked intersection, drivers are not permitted to pass it.
  • Drivers must exercise care to avoid pedestrians even outside a crosswalk.

Of course, pedestrians must also take responsibility for their own safety and those traveling in vehicles. Pedestrians may be held fully or partially responsible for an accident under the following circumstances:

  • Crossing the street against the marked traffic signal.
  • Jaywalking, crossing in the middle of the road, or failing to use a marked crosswalk.
  • Walking along areas where pedestrians access is not allowed.
  • Traveling down a street on foot while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Drivers are responsible for paying attention to their surroundings and maintaining control of their vehicle. If you were hit by a car when safely exercising your rights as a pedestrian, you may be able to file a car accident lawsuit. You may be entitled to compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

To learn more about your rights, please call 1-800-INJURED today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney at Ellis Law.