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Home | What Happens If I Hit a Pedestrian in California?

What Happens If I Hit a Pedestrian in California?

by | Jan 27, 2022 | Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Personal Injury

Every driver in California needs to be careful around pedestrians. Thousands of people walk through the busy metropolitan areas of Southern California every day, trusting nearby motorists to follow the rules of the road and to pay attention to traffic signals. Unfortunately, not every driver exercises appropriate caution around pedestrians, and some pedestrians put themselves at risk by neglecting to follow applicable crossing laws.

If you accidentally hit a pedestrian in California, it’s essential to understand that you are at fault regardless of how the accident occurred. Even if the pedestrian stepped in front of your vehicle at the last second, a driver always has a duty of care to prevent injuries to pedestrians. Generally speaking, a driver should always be paying full attention to the road and be able to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian. However, a pedestrian can absorb liability for a pedestrian accident if they step directly in front of a driver and there is absolutely no time or space for the driver to avoid hitting them.

Hire an California Pedestrian Attorney as Soon as Possible

When you have hit a pedestrian with your car, you must stop immediately and report the incident to the police. Be careful what you say when you call them and do not admit fault if you think the pedestrian caused the accident by stepping in front of your vehicle at the last second. Try to see if anyone nearby saw the incident and ask them for their information. You will need to contact them later to get their witness statements, which may help you avoid liability for the pedestrian’s negligence.

An experienced attorney will carefully evaluate all the available evidence from the accident and help you determine your best defenses to a personal injury claim from the pedestrian. In California, a personal injury plaintiff has the right to seek compensation for any damages resulting from a defendant’s negligence. This can include property losses, medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. However, California also upholds a pure comparative negligence law. If you hit a pedestrian with your car and believe they are at fault for the accident, it is crucial to understand how California’s pure comparative negligence law works and how it applies in your case.

What is Pure Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal term that indicates a plaintiff bears some fault for causing their claimed damages. Most states enforce modified comparative negligence laws that bar plaintiffs from recovering damages if they are 50% or more at fault for causing their claimed damages. However, California’s pure comparative negligence law does not uphold any such threshold of plaintiff negligence.

It’s theoretically possible for a plaintiff to be 99% at fault for causing their claimed damages and still have the right to claim compensation. However, they lose a percentage of their case award equal to their fault percentage. Following the previous example, a plaintiff found 99% at fault for their damages would lose 99% of their case award. Suppose a pedestrian intentionally stepped directly in front of your vehicle, and you had no reasonable amount of time or space to stop. If so, the plaintiff would likely absorb a significant amount of comparative negligence. Some factors that may support your side of the case include:

  • The location of the accident. If the plaintiff crossed the street outside of designated crosswalks, this is jaywalking and would likely lead to the plaintiff absorbing some amount of comparative negligence for the incident.
  • The flow of traffic. Did the pedestrian wait for a crosswalk indicator to show that it was safe to cross the street? If they stepped into moving traffic intentionally, expecting motorists to stop for them, this is a clear example of comparative negligence.
  • The pedestrian’s behavior. If the pedestrian tried to cross when it was clearly unsafe to do so, or if they were very difficult to see in the area and suddenly walked in front of a driver, the driver could cite these factors as signs of comparative negligence.

Ultimately, every pedestrian accident case is unique, and almost every driver in this situation will attempt to cite some form of comparative negligence to minimize their liability for the resulting damages. The best thing for you to do if you are involved in a pedestrian accident is to secure as much evidence and witness testimony as possible from the accident scene before speaking with an attorney.

FAQs About Hitting a Pedestrian in California

What Happens If You Accidentally Hit a Pedestrian?

Typically, a driver is liable for damages if they hit a pedestrian. However, comparative negligence can easily come into play depending on how and where the accident occurred. If you are unsure whether you are liable for damages in a pedestrian accident claim, it is essential to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

Are Pedestrians Responsible for Road Accidents?

A pedestrian can be entirely at fault for a road accident, depending on their behavior. Although these incidents are rare, it is possible for a pedestrian to intentionally cause a traffic accident or for a pedestrian to display egregious negligence in some way that causes nearby drivers to crash. For example, if a pedestrian jumped into the street directly in front of a car and the driver swerves to avoid them and crashes, the pedestrian would likely absorb some fault for the incident.

How Does Hitting a Pedestrian Affect Insurance?

Any accident in which the driver is at fault is likely to lead to a premium increase on the driver’s auto insurance policy. In extreme cases, an insurer may disqualify the driver from their coverage per the terms of their contract, and the driver would need to secure an alternative auto insurance policy.

What Happens If You Hit a Pedestrian Who Is Jaywalking?

Drivers always have a duty of care to prevent accidents with pedestrians. However, if a pedestrian was jaywalking and you did not have any time or space to avoid a crash, they likely bear comparative negligence for the incident.

Speak With an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney

It’s natural to be distressed and uncertain about your situation when you have hit a pedestrian, but if you believe they are responsible for causing the accident, you have the right to defend yourself. Contact an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible after this type of incident to get the legal counsel you need.

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