When an accident occurs involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the determination of who is at fault will normally require careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the incident. However, because California uses a pure comparative negligence system, in most cases, a pedestrian who is hurt by a car will be able to recover for at least some of his losses. That is because is it rare for one of these incidents to arise without some carelessness on the part of the involved driver.
Negligence Rules in California
Generally, both pedestrians and drivers have a duty to obey traffic laws, signs, and signals. Drivers must remain within the posted speed limit, drive on the proper side of the road and within the proper lanes, and must pay attention to the road and avoid distractions such as cell phone calls and text messages. In addition, pedestrians must exercise ordinary care to avoid injury. They must look for on-coming traffic before stepping into the street, and make reasonable efforts to avoid an accident. Both drivers and pedestrians have a right to presume that the other people they encounter on the road will perform their duties and obey the law.
One common theme in pedestrian accidents involves crosswalks. Some mistakenly presume that a driver is blameless if a pedestrian does not use a crosswalk properly or violates some basic safety protocol. But, in every injury case, the totality of the circumstances must be considered. Any single factor—like not using the crosswalk—does not mean a pedestrian cannot recover for their losses.
The fact that an accident occurred while a pedestrian was outside of the boundaries of a crosswalk would be one among many relevant factors to consider when determining who was at fault. In most cases, this fact alone would not determine fault. Pedestrians who cross the street at a crosswalk enjoy the right-of-way and motorists are required to yield to them and exercise due care. Similarly, pedestrians who cross just outside the boundaries of a crosswalk also enjoy the right-of-way.
A pedestrian who chooses to cross the street well outside the boundaries of a crosswalk has a duty to yield to on-coming traffic. However, this duty is not absolute and the relevant issue for the jury will be whether the pedestrian exercised reasonable care under the circumstances to avoid injury while crossing the street. If, for example, the pedestrian waited by the side of the road and watched carefully for a break in the traffic before crossing, but was nevertheless struck by a car because the driver was speeding and abruptly changed lanes in front of the pedestrian, than the jury could reasonably conclude that the pedestrian was not negligent. Under these circumstances, a jury could reasonably conclude that the driver was at fault, despite the pedestrian’s failure to use a crosswalk.
Get Legal Help