Orange County gets more sunny days (278 days) and less rainfall (14 inches/year) on average than most of the country. This means we have great weather for pedestrians to enjoy the outdoors. A “pedestrian” is defined as someone who is on foot, whether that be walking, jogging, running, hiking, or some other means; people on personal conveyances, like bicycles or scooters, are not considered pedestrians.
Unfortunately, more pedestrians also means more opportunities for pedestrians to get hurt. In 2017 alone, there were 994 pedestrians in Orange County who were either killed or injured in a traffic crash.
If you have recently been involved in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an Orange County pedestrian accident attorney at the Crockett Law Group to learn about how we can help you maximize your settlement. Call (800) 900-9393 for a free consultation with a car accident attorney in Orange County.
What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
It depends on who you ask—pedestrians or drivers. Each will give very different reasons for why pedestrian accidents occur. But, these are the 10 most common causes of pedestrian accidents we see here in Orange County:
47% of pedestrian fatalities in 2017 involved alcohol consumed by the pedestrian or the driver according to the NHTSA. Alcohol decreases reaction time but increases the likelihood of making poor choices. We’ve all heard a lot of “don’t drink and drive,” and not enough of “don’t drink and walk.”
Cars Backing Up
“Backing” and “back-over” accidents are especially dangerous for pedestrians. These accidents are always caused by human error in some way. In most cases, a driver forgets to check their blind spot and the pedestrian wrongfully assumes the driver sees them.
Cars Going Too Fast
Speeding is a form of recklessness and can be especially dangerous for pedestrians. A car traveling at an unsafe speed won’t have sufficient time to maneuver to avoid hitting a pedestrian. And pedestrians up against a speeding car are like sitting ducks; they can’t get out of the way in time on foot.
Cars Not Stopping
A “California roll” or “rolling stop” is where a driver slows down and rolls through a stop sign as opposed to coming to a complete stop like they’re supposed to. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the ultimate goal of stop signs is to provide a safe intersection for pedestrians.
Rolling through one certainly cuts against that, which is why it’s illegal to do so under California Vehicle Code Section 22450. In stop sign observance studies, the DOT found that approximately 50 percent of drivers only come to a rolling stop and 25 percent simply don’t stop at all. The sad reality is that pedestrians have a false sense of security because they assume that all drivers will come to a complete stop when statistics show that’s simply not the case.
Cars Turning Left
Even pedestrians who are legally walking within a marked crosswalk can be in danger. According to a study produced by the Federal Highway Administration, approximately 1 in 5 accidents at signalized intersections involve a pedestrian who is hit by a left-turning vehicle.
In fact, a pedestrian at a signalized intersection is about 4 times as likely to be hit by a left-turning vehicle than by a right-turning vehicle. In left-turning pedestrian accidents, the driver and pedestrian don’t visually detect each other because the driver turning left is focused on navigating the turn and the pedestrian is looking straight ahead.
Talking on the phone, texting, and eating are examples of activities that divert your attention away from the road and thus can cause you to hit a pedestrian. Of course, distractions cut both ways. Sometimes pedestrians are so distracted by their cell phone or music they listen to that they fail to see and react to a car coming towards them.
Jaywalking is illegal under California Vehicle Code Section 21955 and refers to crossing the street mid-block between two intersections controlled by traffic lights. However, crossing the street mid-block between two intersections controlled by stop signs is technically legal after yielding to traffic. Jaywalking is particularly dangerous because drivers aren’t expecting there to be pedestrians in the middle of the road. This explains why 73 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents occur on the open road, whereas only 18 percent occur at an intersection according to the NHTSA.
Lack of Sidewalks
Pedestrians are forced to walk on the shoulder of the road when there are no sidewalks, and this increases their risk of being struck by a car. Sidewalks serve to provide a space of safety for pedestrians by separating them from traffic. Being stripped of that leaves pedestrians vulnerable and unprotected. In some cases, the city could be held liable for failing to provide a safe route for pedestrians to travel.
The NHTSA found that 75 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents occur in the dark. Wearing dark-colored clothes in an already poorly lit intersection won’t help matters. That’s why we recommend that pedestrians wear bright, reflective clothing and walk with a flashlight in the dark. You might be wondering whether a public entity, such as the State of California or a local city, has a duty to provide street lights. The answer is generally no, unless the public entity has notice of a dangerous condition established through prior accidents. (Mixon v. State of California)
A crosswalk exists wherever two streets intersect. If the crosswalk is painted on the road, it’s called a “marked crosswalk.” If there is no paint on the road, it’s called an “unmarked crosswalk.” California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21950 says that pedestrians have the right-of-way to cross the street at an unmarked crosswalk. A lot of drivers don’t realize this and wrongfully assume the pedestrian has a duty to yield to them, and so an accident occurs.
What Happens If You Get Hit at a Crosswalk?
Crosswalks are designated safe spaces for pedestrians to cross the street. If you get hit in a crosswalk as a pedestrian, you should pursue a claim against the driver that injured you. Chances are the driver who hit you is at fault.
Drivers Have to Yield to Pedestrians in a Crosswalk
California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21950 requires drivers to use due care and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the street in a crosswalk. A driver using “due care” would slow down and take any other evasive action that is necessary to ensure the safety of pedestrians. In fact, drivers are required to use due care for the safety of pedestrians even when the pedestrians fail to use due care for their own safety, such as when they run out in the middle of the road.
Pedestrians Should Use “Due Care” at Crosswalks
CVC 21950 refers to pedestrians who are already crossing the street, but what if a pedestrian hasn’t started crossing yet? In that case, California Vehicle Code Section 21456 says that pedestrians cannot walk into a crosswalk if it’s being controlled by a steady “DON’T WALK” sign. If they do, the pedestrian could be found at fault. Or at least partially at fault. Remember, CVC 21950 says that drivers still have to use due care for the safety of pedestrians even when pedestrians disregard their own safety.
With that being said, pedestrians are expected to use due care for their own safety at a crosswalk. “Due care” refers to a pedestrian acting as a reasonable person would to protect themselves from harm. In other words, a pedestrian using reasonable care wouldn’t suddenly walk, or run, in front of a car that is close enough to hit them, or stop in the middle of a crosswalk and impede traffic.
Pedestrians Can Sue Even If They’re Partially at Fault
California is a comparative fault state, which means a pedestrian who is mostly to blame for an accident can still pursue a claim against the driver who hit them.
It’s common sense that vehicles pose a greater threat to pedestrians than pedestrians pose to vehicles. That’s why California law puts a greater responsibility on drivers to be extra cautious towards pedestrians.
For example, a driver owes a duty of due care towards a pedestrian even if they run into the path of their vehicle when it’s unsafe to do so. Of course, the pedestrian in this scenario is mostly to blame for the accident. But, the driver still shares some responsibility in the eyes of the law. The pedestrian can, and should, pursue the driver who hit them.
What Should You Do If You’re Hit by a Car as a Pedestrian?
The idea of being hit by a car as a pedestrian is scary, but you need to know what to do in case it ever happens to you. This is especially true today more than ever before because fatal pedestrian accidents are continuing to increase as a result of drivers being distracted by their cell phones. In fact, pedestrian fatalities in 2019 reached its highest number in more than 30 years according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
These are 8 steps you should take if you’re a pedestrian who has been hit by a car in Orange County, CA:
Move to Safety
Move out of the road and to a place of safety if you’re able to do so without causing further injury to yourself. Hopefully, there are people around who can assist you.
Call the Authorities
Call the police and wait for an officer to come to the scene. Request the responding officer to file a formal traffic collision report; this will be crucial later on because it contains the key information about the driver, witnesses, and their statements. Do not, however, take responsibility for the accident.
Get Contact and Insurance Information From the Driver
Collect information about the driver who hit you. You’ll definitely need the driver’s full name, but sometimes names are too common to identify somebody later on. That’s why we suggest copying all of the information contained on their California Driver’s License if you’re able, including their address, date of birth, and driver’s license number. You’ll also want to write down the driver’s license plate number; the make, model, and color of their vehicle; and the name of their insurance company name and policy number.
Take Photo Evidence of the Accident
Take pictures of the scene as well as the car that hit you. Doing this will help recreate the story of what happened. Pictures of the scene of the accident can be relevant to show the placement of the vehicle and where you landed, debris on the road, skid marks, and even weather and lighting conditions. Pictures of the driver’s vehicle can be relevant to show where you were hit, the extent of damage it caused, any broken glass, pieces of clothing, and even blood.
Get Witness Contact Information
Try to find a witness who saw or heard the accident. If you’re lucky enough to locate one, write down their name, number, and address so you can contact them at a later date to get their statement. A witness who supports your version of what happened can turn a bad case into a great case.
Seek Medical Attention
If emergency medical services come to the scene of the accident, don’t refuse treatment or transfer to a medical facility. A pedestrian whose been struck by a car and sustains no injuries whatsoever is unheard of. Get checked out just to give yourself peace of mind if nothing else. But, we also suggest getting checked out because the medical report is going to be critical evidence in your personal injury claim.
Do Not Accept an Insurance Settlement
Report the accident to your auto insurance company, but do not speak with the driver’s insurance company. You have no obligation to speak with them. If you do find yourself speaking with an insurance adjuster from the driver’s insurance carrier, do not consent to give a recorded statement, do not sign any medical authorizations, and do not take responsibility for the accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Attorney
Contact a pedestrian accident lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. You can obtain a free consultation with no obligation to use their services.
What Injuries Are Commonly Caused in Pedestrian Car Accidents?
Pedestrians are relatively unprotected as compared to other road users. Pedestrians don’t wear helmets like bicyclists or safety gear like motorcyclists. Pedestrians also aren’t surrounded by 3,000-lbs of steel and aluminum like motorists are. As a result, pedestrians can sustain just about every type of injury imaginable when they’re struck by a car.
These are the 10 most common injuries sustained by pedestrians in collisions with cars according to a study by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine:
- Leg: 20% — The most common leg injury is a fibula fracture.
- Shoulder or arm: 16%
- Brain: 15% — The most common brain injury is a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
- Knee: 14% — The most common knee injury is a fractured tibial plateau followed by a sprain.
- Pelvis: 9% — The most common type of pelvic injury is a closed fracture.
- Ankle: 9%
- Elbow or forearm: 8%
- Rib cage: 6%
- Scalp/face/eyes: 5%
- Cranium: 5%
It’s important to note that 73 percent of pedestrians who sustain one of these injuries also sustain a fracture. And some don’t survive at all. In 2017, California had 858 pedestrian fatalities, making it the highest in the country according to the NHTSA.
Does Auto Insurance Cover You as a Pedestrian?
Your car insurance may cover you as a pedestrian if you were injured after being hit by a car, so long as there was physical contact. You might need to use your own auto insurance in one of three situations: (1) the driver did a hit-and-run; (2) the driver is uninsured; or (3) the driver didn’t carry a large enough insurance policy.
If you can’t locate the driver who hit you because they fled the scene, your only chance for recovery is through your own insurance carrier. However, you need to have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage in the first place. If you didn’t, you’ll have no way of collecting reimbursement for your injuries.
If you can locate the driver who hit you but they’re uninsured, then you should open a claim with your own insurance company if you purchased UM coverage. If you didn’t, your only source for recovery is filing suit against the driver who hit you. However, most people who drive without car insurance don’t have assets to pursue so it could be a waste of your time.
If you can locate the driver who hit you and their insured, you’ll first want to pursue their bodily injury liability policy. However, you’ll be capped at whatever amount their policy is for. In California, the minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage a driver is required to purchase is $15,000 per person. If you didn’t purchase UM coverage, then the most you can obtain is the policy limit that the driver purchased. If you did purchase UM coverage, then you might be able to obtain the limits of the driver’s policy plus the difference between your UM policy and the driver’s policy.
For example, let’s say you obtained $15,000 from the at-fault driver and you purchased a $30,000 UM policy. This means you could potentially recover $30,000 in total ($15,000 from the driver’s policy, and another $15,000 through your policy). However, let’s say you obtained $15,000 from the at-fault driver and you only purchased a $15,000 UM policy. This means the most you can recover is $15,000 because the difference between your UM policy and the driver’s policy is zero.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive If You Get Hit by a Car?
If you’ve been injured after getting hit by a car in Orange County, you can sue the driver who hit you. The value of your claim as a pedestrian will largely depend on which body parts were injured, how many body parts were injured, whether there were any fractures, whether surgery was required, the duration of your treatment, and the cost of your medical bills. But that’s the value of your claim. How much you can actually collect will usually depend on how much insurance the at-fault driver purchased.
When you’re pursuing the driver who struck you with their car, you have a right to ask for reimbursement for all of these damages:
- Medical costs
- Future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Future loss of earnings
- Out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., transportation, prescriptions)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Future pain and suffering
- Punitive damages in rare situations
Contact an Orange County Pedestrian Accident Attorney
As Orange County pedestrian accident attorneys, we regularly represent the interests of victims who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. The Crockett Law Group is committed to handling your injury claim from start to finish and will fight to make sure that you receive the money you deserve. If you’ve been injured as a result of a pedestrian accident, contact the Crockett Law Group to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys in Orange County at (800) 900-9393.