In California, we are fortunate to have mild weather for most of the year, allowing us to get outside and be active. It isn’t a surprise that California consistently ranks in the top 10 for people who regularly engage in physical activity, with more than 35% of all residents getting at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of exercise.
While walking, jogging, and running are incredibly healthy, it isn’t without risks. Pedestrian accidents are far too common in California. According to the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), in 2018 alone, more than 14,000 pedestrians were injured and 893 pedestrians were killed on California roadways.
If you are hit by a car, truck, or SUV as a pedestrian, you may be entitled to compensation. Through a personal injury claim, you can recover money for your losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. A skilled pedestrian accident attorney can help.
At Kuvara Law, we exclusively represent injury victims — never the insurance companies. We work hard to help our clients get the compensation that they deserve for their injuries. Our law firm offers free consultations and represents clients on a contingency fee basis.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
As with any other type of car accident, pedestrians may be struck by a vehicle for any number of reasons. The vast majority of all traffic accidents are caused by driver error — and pedestrian accidents are no exception. Common causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted driving (including texting while driving)
- Failure to yield
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Poor weather or light conditions
- Failure to check before backing up in a driveway or parking lot
- Failure to check for pedestrians before turning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain factors increase the risk of a pedestrian accident:
- Alcohol impairment: both drivers and pedestrians are more likely to be in a pedestrian collision when intoxicated
- Age: people over 65 and children are more likely to be hurt in a pedestrian accident
- Speed: higher speeds increase the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck and the severity of the injury
- Location: most pedestrian accidents occur at night, in urban areas, and away from intersections.
While many of these crashes are caused by negligence on the part of the driver, pedestrians may also share some responsibility. Walkers, joggers, and runners are required to follow the law as well. This includes crossing at intersections and in crosswalks (where available).
Pedestrians can reduce their risk of being hit by a car by:
- Wearing bright-colored or reflective clothes to increase visibility
- Always walking on the sidewalk
- Only crossing at intersections
- Staying sober
- Avoid using your phone and other distractions
- Looking both ways before crossing
- Making contact with drivers before crossing in front of them
Pedestrians may suffer a range of injuries after being struck by a vehicle. Because pedestrians have no protection from the impact of a car, these types of accidents often lead to serious injuries. In some cases, these injuries may be fatal. Common pedestrian accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries, including bruises and lacerations
- Broken bones or fractures
- Back injuries
- Internal organ injuries
In addition, people who are hit by a car often experience a great deal of emotional trauma. This may lead to conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Can I File a Lawsuit for a Pedestrian Accident?
If you were hit by a car, truck, bus, or SUV, you may be eligible for compensation from the at-fault driver. In most cases, this involves proving that the driver was negligent. Negligence is a failure to use the care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation.
There are four elements of negligence:
- Duty: the driver (defendant) owed the victim (plaintiff) a duty of care
- Breach: the defendant breached, or violated that duty
- Causation: this violation was the proximate or but-for cause of the accident
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered injuries as a result
If you can prove these four things, then you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses, known as damages.
There are three categories of damages that may be available to you: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Both economic and non-economic damages are considered compensatory damages, as they are meant to compensate an injury victim for their losses. Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
Economic damages compensate for a pedestrian accident victim for the financial losses that they have suffered. This may include things such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and reduced earning capacity. These damages are usually fairly easy to prove, as they may involve a bill, pay stub, or other forms of documentation.
Non-economic damages compensate injury victims for their intangible losses. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and scarring or disfigurement. A personal injury lawyer will use their experience and knowledge of similar cases to put together a demand for personal damages.
Punitive damages are rarely available in personal injury cases, as they are reserved for cases where the defendant acted recklessly or intentionally. However, there may be situations where punitive damages are appropriate. For example, if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver who had multiple prior DUI convictions, then you may seek punitive damages in a wrongful death claim.
What Should I Do If I Am Hit By a Car?
After any pedestrian accident, the first and most important thing to do is to seek medical treatment. Even if you think that your injuries aren’t that serious, getting checked out by a doctor can help to ensure that you are properly diagnosed and treated. If you are able to do so, call 911; otherwise, ask a witness to call for you.
When 911 is called, the police will typically come as well. This is critical to your case, as the police can take witness statements and gather evidence. The police report will be useful in a later personal injury case.
While you wait for an ambulance, get the contact, insurance, and license plate information from the driver. You can also write down contact information for any witnesses. If you can, take photos or videos of the scene, the vehicle that hit you, and your injuries.
When talking to the driver, the police, and/or any witnesses, do not apologize or admit fault. These types of statements may be used against you in the future. Instead, stick to the facts of what happened and focus on getting medical care.
Similarly, if you are approached by an insurance adjuster, do not sign anything or give them a statement. The adjuster works for the insurance company — not you. Their goal is to minimize or deny your claim, not to make sure that you get the most possible compensation.
Instead, reach out to a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. Your lawyer will handle communications with the insurance company, and will advocate for you throughout the process. Most law firms offer free consultations and do not charge a fee unless they recover money for you.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me?
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you need to consult an experienced California pedestrian accident attorney right away. Your lawyer will perform a full investigation of your case to put together a strong claim for damages. This may include examining copies of your medical records, accident reports, and other pieces of evidence to build your case and support your claim for damages.
Pedestrian accident attorneys take over your claim from the moment they are hired, so you no longer have to worry about the at-fault driver’s insurance company calling you and pressuring you to accept an inadequate settlement offer. In addition, your attorney drafts and files all necessary documents in your case and conducts any hearings that may be scheduled.
Pedestrian accident attorneys often help their clients increase the value of their case by identifying all possible avenues of recovery and ensuring that the right type of evidence is submitted to support these claims. For example, many accident victims are unaware that the cost of future surgeries and physical therapy may be sought in a legal claim.
At-fault drivers may also try to blame the pedestrian for the accident. Common arguments include:
- The pedestrian was distracted
- The pedestrian did not use a designated crosswalk
- The pedestrian walked in front of the vehicle
- The pedestrian was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The pedestrian did not walk at a crosswalk when the “walk” light was on
Even if the pedestrian did not do anything wrong, at-fault drivers and their insurance companies may try to use these arguments to avoid liability. However, experienced personal injury attorneys study video surveillance footage, consult with accident reconstruction experts and locate eyewitnesses to build their clients’ cases and fight these claims.
At Kuvara Law Firm, we don’t push our clients to accept lowball settlement offers just to resolve your claim quickly. We also don’t force our clients to undertake time-consuming litigation in order to maximize your compensation. With more than 40 years of experience, we will use the techniques we have honed over the course of our careers to do what is right for you.
Pedestrian Accident FAQ’s
What is the first step to take when attempting to make a claim?
You should try to have all evidence documented to as large a degree as possible. This can include your personal notes about the event that took place. You should pay particular attention to the damages that you suffered and the effect that it had on you.
The accident was partly my fault. Can I still make a claim?
The courts acknowledge that very often there is some blame on both sides, therefore they try to work out how much each person was to blame. If you are to blame, you can still make a claim; it will just affect how much in damages you are entitled to.
How soon should I make a claim?
There is always a limit on how long you can wait, so you should file a claim as soon as possible. However, you should also make sure to make a full recovery before going through the stressful process of making a claim.
What Types of Damages May I Be Entitled To?
Pedestrians who prevail in their accident claims may be entitled to a variety of damages, depending on the facts of the case. These include:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of future medical care that may be required
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of employment benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Your attorney will ensure that all of the damages you are entitled to are sought in your case.
Hit By a Car? We’re Here for You
Pedestrians don’t expect to be struck by a vehicle when they’re walking, running, or jogging. Unfortunately, it happens all too often, particularly in California — the state with the highest number of pedestrian deaths. If you are in an auto accident as a pedestrian, we can help.
With law offices in San Rafael, Oakland, San Jose, and throughout Northern California, Kuvara Law Firm represents clients in the greater Bay Area. We have more than 40 years of experience representing Californians in accident cases and have a track record of success in doing so. To learn more or to schedule a free case evaluation, call us at 1-800-446-5879, or fill out our online contact form.