Orange County Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been injured as a pedestrian, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries. Contact the experienced Orange County pedestrian accident lawyers at Beckerman Anderson to see how we can help.
A pedestrian accident happens when a vehicle strikes a person on foot. In California, not everyone on our roadways is operating a car or other motor vehicle. Many people regularly walk, jog, run, bike, or ride a skateboard all along our road ways for both transportation and recreation.
Unfortunately, there are risks involved with this. In fact, thousands of pedestrians are injured in accidents every year in California.
Some of the most serious injuries that occur on our roads and streets involve people who do not have the protection of a car. At any moment, an inattentive driver can jump a curb or fail to stop at a light. If a person is hit by a car while walking by, or riding a skateboard or scooter, they will likely suffer terrible injuries and face a long journey to recovery.
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What Are the Most Common Causes of Orange County Pedestrian Accidents?
These accidents most commonly occur at intersections with marked crosswalks, on roadways with no sidewalks and narrow shoulders, in parking lots, and when a pedestrian crosses a roadway outside of a crosswalk. Risk factors that often play a role in pedestrian accidents include:
Time of day: The majority of pedestrian accidents happen when a driver’s visibility is reduced, such as at dusk, dawn, after dark, and when the sun is in the driver’s eyes.
Drugs and alcohol: Pedestrians and drivers who have who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are at a much greater risk of being involved in an accident.
Pedestrian and driver distraction: Anytime a driver takes their eyes off the roadway, such as to reach for an object or send a text message, the odds of a focused on their phone while they are walking or wearing headphones that drown out surrounding noises, such as a warning honk from a driver.
Poor weather conditions, road, or lack of signs: Roadways with narrow shoulders, restricted lines of sight, no crosswalks, and no signs warning drivers of potential pedestrians, all pose a greater threat to pedestrians.
Walking with traffic: Pedestrians who walk with traffic, meaning their back is to oncoming vehicles, are more likely to be injured in a serious accident than those who walk against traffic.
Pedestrian Accidents Often Involve Severe Injuries
Anytime a pedestrian is injured in car or truck accident, they are most likely going to sustain worse injuries than anyone inside a vehicle. Pedestrians don’t have the safety features offered by most vehicles, and they also don’t wear any protective gear the way bicycle riders do. This means that pedestrians are particularly vulnerable when an accident occurs, and the injuries they sustain can impact them in the coming weeks, months, or even for the rest of their lives.
There is no question that pedestrian accidents typically caused by a driver traveling at a high rate of speed result in horrific injuries. However, drivers traveling at a low rate of speed can also cause very significant and sometimes life-altering injuries or even death when they strike a pedestrian. For example, serious pedestrian injuries often result from rolling stops at intersections and from drivers backing into pedestrians in parking lots. Vehicles traveling at any speed can and do cause traumatic and even fatal injuries when they hit pedestrians.
Common injuries caused by pedestrian accidents include:
- Fractured or broken bones
- Head injury including raumatic brain injuries
- Pelvic injuries
- Spinal cord and neck injuries
- Soft tissue injuries and whiplash
- Torn ligaments
- Avulsion injuries
- Wrongful death
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are often fatal. Some of the reasons why pedestrian accidents occur so frequently in Orange County:
- More than three million people live in Orange County. We also see almost 50 million tourists each year.
- The majority of tourists visit beachfront areas such as Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, causing a massive surge in foot traffic.
- In 2020, roughly 500 pedestrian accidents took place in Orange County. Those accidents resulted in 496 injuries and 47 fatalities. As alarming as they are, these figures actually reflect a statistically significant drop in pedestrian accidents due to COVID lockdowns.
- From 2018 to 2019 more than 1,500 pedestrian accidents occurred, leaving just under 1,600 injured and more than 120 dead.
- Nationwide statistics show that around 6,000 pedestrians die in road accidents every year and around 137,000 are injured.
- About 26% of all pedestrian accidents take place at intersections, and 80% of all pedestrian accidents take place at night.
Common Types of Orange County Pedestrian Accidents
The California Office of Traffic Safety reported that 25% of all car accident fatalities are pedestrians. This might seem surprising since most people think of “car accident victims” as being drivers or passengers. However, the reality is that almost everybody is a pedestrian at some point when they leave the house.
Even when we drive to get somewhere, we still have to cross parking lots, footpaths, and public walkways. This means that nearly everyone is at risk of a pedestrian accident at some point.
The most common types of pedestrian accidents include:
According to the NHTSA, 18% of all pedestrian accidents happen at intersections. Drivers often strike pedestrians as they are attempting to cross the street.
Accidents caused by a failure to yield happen when a driver does not give a pedestrian their legal right of way. Generally speaking, pedestrians have the right of way if a crosswalk or other marked crossing is present.
When drivers back out of driveways, parking spaces, or in other scenarios that require them to reverse, they do not have a full view of their surroundings and are more likely to strike a pedestrian.
Once a pedestrian steps off the curb and into the roadway to cross, they are at a significantly increased risk of being struck by a car. Crossing outside a designated crossing location is dangerous even though drivers have a duty to be mindful of their surroundings.
It is not uncommon for a pedestrian to be struck just because they were near the roadway. A driver who is careless or distracted can swerve onto the sidewalk or shoulder and an innocent pedestrian becomes a victim due to nothing more than their proximity to a negligent driver.
A lot of homes and apartment buildings have their mailboxes next to the road. Although this eases the burden on the postal carrier, it also means that, in order to check their mail, pedestrians must stand on or at the very edge of the street, putting them in danger of being struck by a car.
School bus crossings are dangerous for adults and children. Pedestrians, which in this case are school-aged children and their parents, expect drivers to observe the law and not pass a stopped school bus, but there are plenty of drivers who choose to ignore the flashing stop sign and drive right past the bus at a high rate of speed.
In residential areas, it is not unusual to see children dash out into the street to chase a ball, or for service and delivery vehicles to be parked at the edge of the roadway. Many drivers fail to recognize or anticipate these circumstances and cause a pedestrian accident.
How to get Compensation if You Were Injured in a Pedestrian Accident
The first step in any pedestrian accident case is to identify who was responsible and what potential sources of compensation are available. In most situations, the injured pedestrian or their surviving loved one will look to the vehicle driver and his or her insurance company to be compensated.
However, sometimes, the identity of the driver is not immediately known. In such cases, it is important to conduct an investigation as soon as possible after the accident to try to find out who caused the accident. Sometimes canvassing the area quickly can uncover witnesses or video footage of the accident which can help lead you to the person who caused the accident. Conducting an investigation is no easy task, so obtaining legal representation as soon as possible after you or your loved one is injured is advised.
If it is a hit-and-run situation in which the driver cannot be located, it is possible that the pedestrian who was injured may still be able to obtain compensation from his or her own Uninsured Motorist policy or that of a family member. The only way to know for sure is to contact a lawyer to help you determine how you may be able to recover compensation.
Who Can Be Found At Fault For Orange County Pedestrian Accidents?
Pedestrians in California have the right of way when crossing a street at any intersection, whether or not is has a crosswalk, and at any marked crosswalk. This does not mean, as a lot of people think, that a pedestrian always has the right of way. It does mean that drivers are expected to yield anytime they see a pedestrian in the roadway.
Following a pedestrian accident, it often falls to the police, insurance carriers, and attorneys to determine who is liable for what happened. Here are some examples of who you may be able to recover compensation from, depending on the circumstances of the accident:
Since pedestrians have the right of way in most cases, the driver of the involved vehicle os often assigned all or a significant portion of the fault and liability for the pedestrian’s injuries. There are several aggravating factors that, if present, can make it more probable for the driver to take the blame such as driving under the influence, committing other violations like running a red light, speeding, and texting while driving.
If a commercial vehicle is involved in a pedestrian accident that took place during the driver’s work hours and in the course of their duties, the driver’s employer could be legally liable for the pedestrian’s injuries if, for example, they failed to train the driver properly or knew that they were drinking on the job.
A badly designed or poorly maintained roadway can be perilous to both pedestrians and drivers. Road design engineers and municipal public works departments could be held liable if they failed to design, construct, or maintain safe roadways, such as assigning incorrect speed limits, placing crosswalks in areas with poor visibility, and neglecting to install or replace traffic signs and signals.
If a pedestrian is struck by a car in a parking lot, blame might fall on the owner of the property for failing to maintain the parking lot in a reasonably safe condition, which could include poor or absent lighting, and a lack of necessary signage.
Section 1714 of the California Civil Code states that any adult who, at their residence, serves a minor alcohol is legally responsible for any damages caused by the minor’s intoxication. This would include injuries to a pedestrian that they struck.
It is not common for a mechanical failure to lead to a pedestrian accident, but it does happen. In this situation, the manufacturer of the part or vehicle that malfunctioned will most likely be held accountable for the pedestrian’s injuries.
Occasionally, the pedestrian is the cause of the accident. A pedestrian who is walking with the flow of traffic, wearing dark clothing, jaywalking, not paying attention to their surroundings, or walking in a limited access roadway, is asking for trouble and could be found liable for their own injuries.
How Can A Pedestrian Be At Fault For A Pedestrian Accident?
In many instances, this won’t be the case. There are, however, a few scenarios in which the pedestrian bears responsibility for their own damages, such as:
A pedestrian should never try to cross the street when the light is green, and traffic is moving. This is especially true if a crosswalk is available and there are traffic signals that indicate when they can safely cross. If a pedestrian who does not have the right of way tries to cross the street, they can be held fully or partly liable for any subsequent accident.
If no sidewalk is available, the pedestrians should make every effort to avoid oncoming vehicles and keep as far away from the middle of the street as they possibly can. If a pedestrian is struck while obstructing traffic, then the accident could be their fault.
If a crosswalk is available, pedestrians are obligated to use it. Marked crosswalks help ensure the safety of pedestrians. They also let drivers know to keep an eye out because someone could be crossing the road. When pedestrians fail to use a crosswalk, it makes it harder for drivers to avoid them. If a pedestrian is struck by a driver in an area where a crosswalk was available, they could be held accountable for their own damages.
What Happens If I Am Partly To Blame For My Pedestrian Accident?
Even if you are found to share in the liability for your Orange County pedestrian accident, you may still be entitled to collect a percentage of your losses. For instance, if you were crossing outside of a crosswalk, but a driver hit you while they were running a red light, then the court might find you 20% at fault and the driver 80% at fault for the accident. This means that you would still be eligible to receive 80% of the total amount of financial compensation awarded.
There are many laws in our state that govern the way pedestrians move on our roadways. These laws also govern how to attribute liability in a pedestrian-involved accident. Here are some of the most important laws to be aware of:
According to the California Vehicle Code, drivers are required to yield the right of way to any pedestrian who is in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. This law does not alleviate the pedestrian from the burden of exercising due care for their personal safety. A pedestrian may not suddenly step off a curb or other safe place and walk or jump into the path of an oncoming motor vehicle that is close enough to cause an immediate danger. Pedestrians are also not allowed to delay or stop traffic while crossing in a crosswalk.
Even when a pedestrian is jaywalking or crossing outside of a crosswalk, it does not alleviate a driver from showing due care. The California Vehicle Code states that “every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.” The same section also states that this in no way relieves drivers of their responsibility to regard pedestrians with safety and care.
Drivers who are exiting private or public driveways are require to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic as well as pedestrians. Under Section 21804 (a) of the California Vehicle Code, “The driver of any vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from any public or private property, or from an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all traffic.” Vehicles entering traffic “shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that traffic until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.”
Once all the potential sources of compensation recovery are determined, the next step to take is to prove who was at fault for the accident. This is done by collecting evidence that clearly indicates who was responsible.
Having a skilled accident attorney is very helpful in this area because evidence can come in many forms. It can be witness statements, vehicle photographs, diagrams, scene photographs, video, or many other things. Sometimes it is something small that the untrained eye does not even notice which makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful claim.
To prove someone was at fault, you need to be able to prove that his or her conduct fell below what a reasonably prudent person would have done under the same circumstances. This could come in any myriad of ways. A driver could have been speeding, sending a text message, rolled a stop sign, run a red light, or just not have been paying attention. There are laws against many of these things, but even if the driver did not get a ticket, that does not mean the driver was not responsible for the accident.
What if I was at Fault for the Pedestrian Accident?
Insurance adjusters are notorious for trying to deny claims and/or settle for substantially less than an injured person is entitled to by making the claim that the pedestrian was at fault for the accident.
While it is true that pedestrians have an obligation to follow traffic laws and conduct themselves in a reasonable and prudent manner, that is not the end of the story. As a pedestrian, you absolutely should always be on the lookout for your own personal safety. Look both ways before you cross the street. Use crosswalks and walk lights. Wear reflective material if out at night.
However, even if you did something that an insurance adjuster could try to say was unreasonable, that does not mean the driver is excused. A driver of a vehicle still has the obligation to yield the right of way to pedestrians at all time and to operate their vehicle in such a manner as to avoid injuring pedestrians.
So even if an insurance adjuster tells you that they are not going to pay because the accident was your fault, it is important to have the matter reviewed by an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. The insurance company is only looking out for their own bottom line. An accident injury attorney is there to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
To be clear, do not sign anything before speaking to an attorney.
What am I Entitled to After a Pedestrian Accident?
Once you are able to prove that someone else was responsible for the accident, the question turns to what you may be entitled to receive as compensation. The answer is that you are entitled to compensation for any damages that were caused by the accident. Though this sounds straightforward, it often is very nuanced and can require a skillful pedestrian accident injury attorney to maximize the amount of compensation you receive.
Economic vs. Non-Economic Damages
The first category of damages you may be able to recoup is called special or economic damages. These are essentially your out of pocket losses and include items like medical expenses, lost earnings, and lost earning capacity. They are items that can be evidenced by documentation like medical bills, paystubs and earnings records. It is important to keep and maintain meticulous records of everything. An attorney can help advise you on what records you will need exactly pertaining to your specific case, and get them organized for you to present them as evidence during the settlement negotiation process.
In pedestrian accidents, economic damages can soar just from medical bills alone. Severe injuries tend to happen to pedestrians since they have no protection whatsoever. Things like broken bones, spinal injuries, paralysis, and traumatic brain injuries rack up very costly medical bills.
When you are dealing with a severe and expensive pedestrian accident injury, it is more important than ever to seek the services of an attorney to make sure you get all the compensation to which you are entitled.
The second category of damages is called general or non-economic damages. There are not as easy to calculate because there is no documentation which definitely states their amount like a pay stub or medical bill. Rather, they compensate for things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation and emotional distress. Having an experienced pedestrian accident attorney on your side can help make the best case for the severity of your general, non-economic damages.
Statute of Limitations for Orange County Pedestrian Accidents
In most cases, an injured person has two years from the date of the accident in order to file a lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations. This may seem like a long time, but it is very important not to wait even close to two years to contact an attorney and file your claim. These cases can take months to build, and even longer to obtain all the evidence needed to present for settlement negotiations or even a trial.
Another factor to consider is that when a pedestrian is injured in an accident, it is often impossible to know from day one what the exact extent of those injuries will be, or how much the treatment is going to cost. It can take quite some at time until the full scope of that injury is known. While the injured pedestrian is focused on recovering, they should also be vigilant about noticing and documenting any new symptoms that may crop up during the recovery process.
Since you only have two years to file your claim in most situations, it is best to file as soon as you can even if you think you have new symptoms still developing. There is truly no reason to delay talking to an attorney and moving forward with legal action as necessary to begin the damage recovery process.
If I File a Lawsuit, Will I Have to Endure a Trial?
If a lawsuit is filed, that does not mean there will be a trial. Most cases settle without trial; in fact, the vast majority of them do. When a lawsuit is filed, the court will set a trial date for you that is often a year or more away. During that time, your attorney will continue to negotiate with the defense attorney and insurance company to try to reach a fair resolution before the trial begins.
If the insurance company is worried that the jury is going to award you a lot of money, they will be more inclined to offer you more prior to the trial beginning. It will be up to you, using the advice of your attorney, to decide whether the amount offered is fair or whether you want to take it to trial. Since trials can become very expensive, it is often in your best interest to accept a settlement offer as long as it is within the range of reasonable compensation for your damages.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Pedestrian Accident Claims
Unfortunately, there are several ways that victims can hurt the value of their pedestrian accident claim without even knowing it. Some common mistakes people make that damage the value of their Orange County pedestrian accident claim are as follows:
It seems wildly unreasonable for someone to think they are miraculously uninjured after being hit by a car, but it happens. Take, for example, a pedestrian accident in which the victim goes airborne and then lands in a roadside flowerbed.They might be able to get themselves up and not feel any notable amount of pain, chalk their injuries up to a few bumps and bruises, and incorrectly assume it must be their lucky day.
When people are injured in traumatic events, their body’s fight or flight response engages. This produces a massive wave of adrenaline that can cause a victim to feel robust and even energized for several hours after their accident. This wave of adrenaline also inhibits your ability to feel physical pain.
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, you need to be examined by a physician to rule out any internal bleeding or other internal injuries, even if you don’t feel any pain. Delaying or refusing a trip to the emergency room can not only cause a moderate medical issue to grow into a severe one, but it will also hurt your personal injury claim.
If you do not have any official dated documents that substantiate the nature and severity of your injury that a medical exam would have supplied, the insurance provider will challenge your injury by saying if it was really that bad, you would have sought medical care right away.
If you don’t seek medical attention until days or weeks after your accident, the insurer can and will claim that your injuries happened more recently and are completely unrelated to your accident.
Never give an insurance carrier the power to reduce your claim’s value. Always get examined by a physician immediately after your accident.
Not Following the Doctor’s Treatment Plan
When you check out of the hospital, your doctor will give you detailed instructions on what you need to do to continue your recovery. You may need to take all of a prescription medication or go to physical therapy for a certain number of sessions. Your treatment plan will contain all the steps you need to take to regain your health and well-being, and it is important that you follow it to the letter.
If you ignore or forget about your treatment plan, you will make your claim vulnerable to an insurance company. They will blame any obstacles to your recovery on you by saying you didn’t follow your doctor’s instructions so you obviously don’t care if you get better. It can also hurt your claim if the insurer has proof of you participating in an activity that you have not been medically cleared for.
Don’t jeopardize your financial compensation award. Keep your pedestrian accident claim as strong as possible by following every step of your doctor’s treatment plan.
After being injured in a pedestrian accident, it won’t be long before the insurance company of the person who struck you will contact you and ask you to provide them with a recorded statement. They do this as soon as possible after the accident because you are shaken and scared and they are hoping you will say something that will let them devalue or deny your valid claim.
Giving the insurance company a recorded statement without first talking to an Orange County personal injury lawyer is a huge mistake. Despite what they say, the insurer is not asking for your statement so they can process your claim as quickly as possible. They are fishing for any information that they can twist or take out of context to use against you.
It is important to remember that you do not have to take their call. In fact, any attempt on the part of the insurer to contact you is best handled by your Orange County pedestrian accident lawyer. They will know exactly what to say and what not to say and ensure that you remain in the best possible position for collecting full and fair financial compensation. When you get an attorney, they will represent you in all communications concerning the accident.
When dealing with a personal injury, it is not unusual for victims to wonder if they can handle the claim on their own. This idea almost always has its roots in trying to save money in a financially dire situation.
There are plenty of studies that have shown that victims who attempt to file a claim on their own, without the help of a licensed lawyer, receive roughly three times less damages than those with proper legal representation. Basically, the insurance carrier is not going to be motivated to fairly settle your claim to avoid a trial because you are not a lawyer.
If you go up against an insurance company on your own and don’t manage to negotiate a fair financial settlement for your losses, there is nothing you can do about it. They will either deny your claim or delay proceedings until you either give up or accept an offer that is much lower than your claim is actually worth.
The longer you wait to hire a lawyer to investigate your claim, the more evidence is going to disappear, either organically, accidentally or deliberately. Eyewitnesses might change their contact details or forget the details of what they saw.
Hiring the wrong attorney is one of the worst mistakes an injured victim can make. Most people assume that one lawyer is as good as another, but this simply is not the case. California law has many different practice areas in which an attorney can specialize. Not all of them are related to the field of personal injury and not every lawyer has litigation experience.
You wouldn’t ask a chiropractor to diagnose a head injury and you shouldn’t hire a lawyer that doesn’t specialize in personal injury to handle your pedestrian claim. Your best chance at collecting the maximum amount of financial compensation is having an experienced trial lawyer on your side, one who specializes in personal injury law and has a track record of achieving successful outcomes for Orange County pedestrian accident cases.
Contact Beckerman Anderson right now for your free consultation to see how we can help resolve your pedestrian accident and get you the settlement you deserve.
With our experience protecting the rights of individuals harmed by the negligence and misconduct of others, Beckerman Anderson, APC will fight for you. Our attorneys have collected millions of dollars for injured victims. If you’ve been injured and need the help of an accident attorney to get you the compensation you deserve, don’t wait another minute. Call 949-409-4299 to speak with our Orange County pedestrian accident lawyer today.
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