In the state of California, pedestrian deaths comprise about 22% of all traffic deaths. To help reduce dangers to pedestrians, California has passed “Right-of-Way at Crosswalks” laws and other similar sections of legislation within the California Vehicle Code.
California Crosswalk Laws
The Right-of-Way issue is defined in the Code, Section 21950(a). It states that drivers of vehicles must yield right-of-way when a pedestrian crosses the roadway within a marked crosswalk. “Crosswalk” includes unmarked ones as well, as long as they are at an intersection and their activity is not subject to exceptions that are included elsewhere in the Code.
The laws define duties of care that need to be taken by both pedestrians and vehicle drivers, so that the two do not collide due to carelessness or deliberate actions that produce a crash. This section of the California Vehicle Code lays out regulations for pedestrians and drivers to help ensure safety for all. It also discusses liability issues involved with pedestrian/vehicle collisions and significance of “WALK” or “WAIT” and “DON’T WALK” signage.
- Crosswalk Description – In the definition of what is a crosswalk, the Code mentions that most intersections have crosswalks, but they may not be marked in residential areas. These areas may be marked with white lines, and in school zones the lines may be yellow. Some of the crosswalks also have flashing lights to warn drivers to look for pedestrians and be prepared to stop at any time.
- Crosswalk Right-of-Way – Pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalk areas. If there is a signal light, pedestrians have the right-of-way, unless a vehicle has already legally entered the crosswalk area. In that case, pedestrians must yield right-of-way to that vehicle and wait until it is clear before crossing. Drivers who turn right on a red light must yield to pedestrians and vehicles in the crosswalk area. If there is a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing and they do not use it, that pedestrian must yield right-of-way to all vehicles that are nearby. Pedestrians who cross a roadway outside of a marked one or a crosswalk that is unmarked but at an intersection must yield right-of-way to vehicles on that roadway.
Duty of care is important for ensuring pedestrian safety. Pedestrians, including those who have handicaps, have due responsibility, a care of duty, to be watchful and to act in a safe manner when they do want to cross a roadway. They should not suddenly leave a safe area or curb to walk or run in front of a vehicle that is close enough to hit them. Pedestrians also should not try to stop or delay traffic unnecessarily when they are using a marked or unmarked crosswalk. This provision does not change the need for drivers to continually exercise their duty of care to not impair the safety of any pedestrian in those crosswalks.
Drivers must yield right-of-way to pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks. They should always watch for pedestrians at all intersections and for persons who try to cross roadways in areas where there are no crosswalks or intersections that people can use. They are cautioned to take special care when they see a blind person with a white cane crossing or near to the roadway. Drivers should be able to stop if necessary to ensure pedestrian safety.
Drivers should not pass another vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk, because there may be a pedestrian crossing that they do not see in front of the other vehicle. If the driver must pass along or over a sidewalk, they must give pedestrians the right-of-way. Special care should also be taken when approaching crosswalks with flashing lights.
Liability in Pedestrian Accidents
The California Vehicle Code details how pedestrians and vehicle drivers should conduct themselves to avoid an accident. It clearly tells pedestrians that they need to use due care to remain safe. No one should run suddenly into traffic or otherwise make a surprise appearance in front of an oncoming vehicle. Drivers also have their duty to be careful and respect pedestrian right-of-way rights.
When either the driver or a pedestrian is negligent by not following the Code regulations, they may bear liability for damage claims in a personal injury lawsuit. To win their case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent in their behavior. There are several elements that can help prove a liability in this type of case:
- Duty of Care – It must be shown that a duty of care was required.
- Breach of Duty – It must be shown that a defendant failed to act in a manner that would have prevented the accident.
- Proximate Cause – It must be shown that the errant actions of the defendant were the main cause of the accident that caused harm to the plaintiff.
- Damages – California follows the pure comparative negligence rule. This means that each party may be found to have contributed to the accident event. Any award would be reduced by the percentage amount of responsibility of each party. This allows even a person who was in part responsible for the accident may still recover a portion of damage claims.
Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Pedestrians who are injured in California vehicle accidents should immediately consult with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to determine if they have a case to pursue for claiming compensation for their accident-related expenses.
Typical damages that might occur due to a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle include medical expenses, work loss, loss of companionship, disability, disfigurement, recovery expenses, and more. In cases where the pedestrian is killed, their survivors can seek compensation for expenses like funeral and burial costs, the injured person’s calculated pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of future inheritance and more. The Code states that a defendant would owe monetary damages to a plaintiff, such as the items listed above.
To learn more about obtaining fair compensation for your pedestrian traffic accident injuries or to get experienced legal representation for your best interests, contact our Personal Injury Attorney for a free consultation. We also can help you deal with the loss of a loved one in such an unfortunate accident.