Most of us don’t think of walking as a dangerous activity, but Pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles and California in general are on the rise. In 2016, 892 pedestrians were killed on California roadways. Pedestrian fatalities account for nearly ¼ of California traffic deaths. And, those represent only a small percentage of accidents involving pedestrians. More than 10,000 are injured around the state each year.
That’s why the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is making a push for pedestrian safety this month, sharing tips for both pedestrians and drivers. Emphasizing pedestrian safety as autumn begins makes sense. Days are growing shorter, and pedestrian fatalities are more common after dark. In addition, more pedestrians are killed by automobiles just after the fall time change than at any other time of the year.
Pedestrians accidents in Los Angeles: who’s at Risk?
Though any pedestrian can fall victim to a traffic accident, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released data regarding the pedestrians most at risk.
- Teenage and young adult pedestrians (ages 15-29) are the most likely to be treated in emergency rooms for traffic-related injuries.
- About 1/3 of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents are legally intoxicated at the time of the accident.
- Children are at greater risk than adults, because they are less visible and less able to judge the distance and speed of a vehicle.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
Naturally, many of the key safety tips for pedestrians relate to the risk factors above. For example, it is generally advised that children under the age of 10 be accompanied by an adult or older child when crossing the street. Although some younger children are able to safely cross streets, most are not able accurately assess when it is safe.
Other tips include:
- Dress to ensure that you are visible, especially when walking on roadways at night
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible, and stay on the shoulder of the road when it is necessary to walk in the street
- Cross streets at intersections, not in the middle of the street
- Obey all traffic signals and don’t cross against the lights
- Don’t rely solely on right of way—look both ways and across all lanes of traffic before entering the roadway
- Avoid distractions such as texting while walking; an inattentive pedestrian can cause an accident just as a distracted driver can
- Stay off the road if you’re under the influence—walking drunk may be safer than driving drunk, but getting a safe ride is your best option
Of course, pedestrians are only half of the equation when it comes to motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians. Motorists must also assume responsibility for safe driving and taking precautions to avoid pedestrians.
Pedestrian Safety Tips for Drivers in California
The same type of behaviors that put drivers at risk of colliding with other vehicles, bicyclists, and even fixed objects apply when it comes to pedestrian safety as well. Some of the most common examples include:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while fatigued
- Distracted driving, including the use of mobile devices on the road
- Speeding or otherwise disregarding traffic laws
Some of these risk factors present an even greater danger to pedestrians than they do to other drivers or passengers in other cars. For example, the faster a car is traveling, the more likely it is that a pedestrian struck by the vehicle will be killed. Thus, speeding not only increases the risk that an accident will occur, but also the likelihood that the accident will be fatal or the pedestrian will suffer a serious injury.
The best ways for a driver to avoid an accident involving a pedestrian are:
- Stay alert, as pedestrians may step into the road unexpectedly, or may not be visible in certain areas, such as on a curve or when you’re turning a corner
- Observe the speed limit, stop signs, traffic lights and all other safety-related traffic regulations
- Don’t text and drive, or engage in other activities that take your attention off the road
- Don’t drive drunk or under the influence of drugs
- Slow down when pedestrians are present, or in areas where pedestrians are likely to appear
Liability for Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities
When a pedestrian is injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, the driver will usually be at least partially responsible for the harm to the pedestrian. That means that the driver may be responsible for damages.
Pedestrian Personal Injury Claims. Call an experienced Los Angeles Attorney today
A negligent driver will generally be liable for injuries to a pedestrian. Even if the pedestrian was partially responsible for the accident, he or she may still be entitled to partial compensation. The damages an injured pedestrian can recover will depend on the exact nature of his or her injuries, among other factors. Commonly-awarded damages include:
- Payment of medical bills
- Compensation for lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Costs of rehabilitation and/or accommodations
Wrongful Death Claims in Fatal Pedestrian Accidents
When a pedestrian is killed by a negligent driver, the victim’s family may be entitled to damages through a wrongful death suit. The most common wrongful death plaintiffs are surviving spouses, domestic partners, and children of the deceased. However, under some circumstances, other dependents may also have claims. And, some types of damages may be awarded directly to the estate of the deceased.
Damages are determined differently in a wrongful death case, and may include:
- Compensation for lost support that would have been provided by the deceased
- Payment of medical expenses associated with the final injuries
- Funeral expenses
Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Pedestrian Accidents in Los Angeles
The first line of defense against a pedestrian accident is to take precautions. Exercise care when you’re walking, and remain alert. Teach your children to cross the street carefully, and only at the crosswalk. And, take similar precautions when you drive—it may save someone’s life.
If, despite these efforts, you are injured by a motor vehicle while walking, you’ll want to educate yourself about your rights and options as soon as possible after the accident. Talking to an experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney may be your best first step. Call Yarian & Associates, APC today for a free consultation.
Yarian & Assocaites, APC
700 N. Central ave. Suite 470
Glendale, CA 91203