When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

Time and time again, it has been proven that intersections can be incredibly dangerous for pedestrians. Last month, yet another pedestrian was involved in a fatal accident at a Los Angeles intersection. This time the accident was in Hawthorne, at the corner of Inglewood Blvd and 132nd Street. According to reports, a female pedestrian became impatient decided to cross the busy street even though she “do not cross” sign was engaged. She was struck and killed by a car lawfully passing through the intersection.

Don’t Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Generally speaking, pedestrians will have the right of way when they are lawfully “within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” However, pedestrians cannot simply jump out into a crosswalk or intersection in front of oncoming traffic and be without blame. California law also states that “no pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” [Vehicle Code Section 21950]

What does this mean? There are two primary takeaways from this part of the law:

  1. Pedestrians must cross at marked crosswalks or intersections, whenever possible.
  2. Pedestrians have to use caution and make sure that it is safe before entering the roadway.

The pedestrian who was killed in Hawthorne failed to use the caution that was required of her, by law, before crossing the road. Since she entered the intersection against the traffic light, she created an immediate hazard.

Do Pedestrians Ever Have to Yield to Traffic?

While drivers have an obligation to use caution when sharing the road with pedestrians, California law actually puts much of a pedestrian’s safety in his or her own hands. Whenever a pedestrian is on a road – at a place other than a marked crosswalk or intersection – he or she “shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.” [Vehicle Code Section 21954(a)]

In other words, pedestrians have an obligation to yield to motor vehicle traffic if they are not within a crosswalk or intersection. This does not mean that drivers do not have to be careful around pedestrians. Rather, California law imposes a duty on both the driver and pedestrian to stay safe.

Can Negligence Be Bar to Wrongful Death Recovery?

It matters that the Hawthorne pedestrian violated California law when she crossed the street. Why? Her family is likely grieving right now and may want to hold the driver responsible for damages. However, California law explains that a victim’s negligence can limit the damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit. The family’s ability to recover damages will be reduced by the victim’s own degree of fault. If it is determined that the victim was 100 percent responsible for her accident and death, her family will not be able to recover anything from the driver, at all.

Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys

Pedestrians are involved in Los Angeles accidents every day. These accidents can cause victims to suffer from extremely painful and life-threatening injuries. In order to recover from these injuries, pedestrians must often undergo extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. This can be incredibly expensive, especially if you are forced to miss time at work while you’re getting better. Filing a personal injury lawsuit for damages may be your best option for getting the money you need after an accident.

Call Citywide Law Group today to learn about how we can help you maximize the amount of money you receive for your injuries. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call our Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorneys today.