Los Angeles can be a dangerous place for pedestrians. In 2014, more than 5,300 pedestrians were injured or killed in traffic-related accidents in the greater Los Angeles area. Los Angeles roads were designed to accommodate heavy vehicle traffic, and not pedestrian foot traffic. Wide, multi-lane highways encourage high-speed traffic and create a dangerous environment for pedestrians. Who is responsible when pedestrians are injured in Los Angeles traffic accidents? Do pedestrians always have the right-of-way? What happens if pedestrians violate traffic laws?
Current Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws in California
California lawmakers have passed several laws and regulations to increase pedestrian safety. One aim is to reduce the number of pedestrian-related traffic accidents. These laws impose certain responsibilities and duties on drivers and pedestrians. So, in Los Angeles, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. Rather, they must follow traffic laws and exercise reasonable care when walking along Los Angeles roads and freeways.
For example, pedestrians in California may not enter a crosswalk after the red hand signal begins to flash. If you have ever walked in a crowd in Los Angeles you may have noticed that few pedestrians follow this rule. The flashing hand is generally seen as more of a “hurry up and cross” signal rather than a “stop and wait for the next light” signal. The flashing hand traffic law is intended to clear the intersection before the main traffic signal changes. The law is intended to ensure the safety of pedestrians and make sure that cars have a clear path through heavily-congested roadways. Pedestrians who decide to begin to cross an intersection after the walk signal hand has started flashing could face a hefty fine for doing so.
Los Angeles police have not been shy about handing out these $200-a-pop citations for these crosswalk violations. Over a four-year period, more than 17,000 citations were issued to pedestrians for breaking this crosswalk law. Pedestrians should also know that crossing against a flashing light they could make it tough to recover damage if they are hurt in an accident.
Negligence in Pedestrian Traffic Accidents
Pedestrians who are hurt in a Los Angeles traffic accident can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident. These personal injury claims are most often based on a driver’s negligence. A successful negligence claim will require proving that the driver had a duty to prevent harm, breached that duty, and caused an injury. What happens, though, if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle after beginning to cross at an intersection after the hand signal began flashing?
Pedestrians Can Be Liable for Injuries, Too
California follows what is known as the rule of comparative fault. This means that your ability to recover compensation can be limited if you are partly to blame for an accident. It also means that another person who is injured in an accident may be able to recover damages from you.
Let’s say, for example, that a pedestrian rushes to cross an intersection after the traffic signal hand begins to flash. The pedestrian is struck by a vehicle making a right-hand turn. The pedestrian suffers extensive injuries including a broken arm, scrapes, and head trauma. The vehicle that struck the pedestrian is damaged because of the accident. The pedestrian is 40% to blame for the accident because he entered the crosswalk after the hand began to flash. The pedestrian suffers damages in the amount of $100,000 between medical expenses and lost wages. Since he is 40% responsible, he will only be able to recover a maximum of $60,000 from the driver. At the same time, the driver determines that he suffered $1,000 in property damage. The driver can seek to recover as much as $400 from the pedestrian for that damage.
Proposed Changes to California Pedestrian Laws
Some California lawmakers are unhappy with the current pedestrian flashing hand law and are looking to change it. A new proposal would give pedestrians the right to cross at an intersection up until the flashing hand becomes solid. These lawmakers believe that giving people more time to cross the street will make Los Angeles a safer place for the city’s walkers. Others are fearful that a change in the law would only make matters worse.
Will pedestrians follow new laws if they don’t follow the ones that are currently in place? Pedestrians have a responsibility to use reasonable care and precaution when walking in Los Angeles. If a pedestrian does not exercise reasonable care and caution, his or her ability to recover compensation for any injuries that result from an accident could be limited. However, drivers also have a responsibility to drive with care and to prevent foreseeable harm.
If you have been injured in a Los Angeles pedestrian accident you may be entitled to compensation, even if you were partly responsible. The best way to limit liability and maximize your potential recovery is to hire an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with our Los Angeles traffic accident attorneys today.
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Los Angeles, CA 90025