What Should You Do After a Pedestrian Accident in California?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Pius Joseph with Law Offices of Pius Joseph.
Drivers and pedestrians alike have strict rules they are required to follow regarding traffic safety; when one or both parties fails to adhere to these rules and an accident between a vehicle and pedestrian occurs as a result, the injured party may be eligible to file a pedestrian accident claim. Pedestrian accident claims may include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more depending on the situation. However, every state has slightly different laws regarding pedestrian accidents.
In California, pedestrians are expected to use crosswalks, and cars are expected to yield to pedestrians.
Like most states, California requires pedestrians to only cross the street at a crosswalk. Vehicles are required to yield right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks and to drive at a safe speed for the conditions, even if that means driving below the speed limit. When one or both parties fails to follow these rules, the violator may be liable for resulting damages. If both parties violated a rule resulting in or contributing to the accident, the liability may be shared between both parties and the amount of compensation each party can seek will vary accordingly. This practice applies to pedestrian accidents, car accidents, and more.
California practices pure comparative negligence.
Every state practices its own legal doctrine in regard to who can seek compensation after an accident. Some states practice modified comparative negligence, in which someone can only seek compensation for their damages if they were less than 50% at fault. Far fewer states practice contributory negligence, which bars anyone who was even 1% at fault for an accident from seeking recovery in court.
California is one of the states that practices pure comparative negligence, allowing accident victims to seek compensation for their damages even if they were 99% at fault for the accident. However, under pure comparative negligence, the amount of compensation an accident victim is able to seek must be equivalent to the percentage of the accident they were not responsible for. For example, even if a driver was 80% at fault for an accident that resulted in $40,000 in damages for them, their awarded compensation would be reduced by 80%. The percentage of fault may be assessed and estimated by a car accident expert, but will ultimately be decided by a jury in court or finalized in a settlement.
Consider the following steps after a pedestrian accident in California:
- Call the police. If you are able after a pedestrian accident, it’s important to call the police right away; this ensures that emergency medical care will arrive as quickly as possible and also protects the scene of the accident. If the pedestrian is too injured to call the police, a bystander or the driver should do so on their behalf and request an ambulance for the injured person.
- Take pictures. If possible, the accident victim should take pictures of any vehicles involved in the accident and any damage caused by the accident. However, if they are too injured to do so, friends, family, or even an attorney can do so on their behalf.
- Collect witness information. If anyone else witnessed the accident, it’s a good idea to get their name, phone number, and even record a testimony with their agreement. Again, in the event of a pedestrian accident it may be necessary to have a friend, loved one, or attorney do so on your behalf.
- Seek medical treatment. Seeking medical care is an important part of both prioritizing your health and documenting the damages caused by the accident. Oftentimes the pedestrian is taken by emergency vehicle to a hospital, but when this is not the case, seeking medical treatment should be the first priority.
- Talk to a pedestrian accident attorney. Pedestrian accidents can be extremely tricky to litigate; from extensive damages to proving liability, it can be difficult to prove how the accident occurred and what the results were without the help of an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. These attorneys typically offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients don’t pay unless they win their case.
For more advice on what to do after a pedestrian accident in California, or for help filing a claim, reach out to a pedestrian accident attorney in the state.