California Legal Guide for Pedestrian Injury Victims

Table of Contents

    Everyone Is A Pedestrian

    Pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable road users on the roadways of California. Unlike vehicle occupants, they do not have the protection of a steel vehicle frame to protect them from the force of a collision. They do not have life-saving equipment such as seat belts and airbags. They do not even have the padding and helmets that some protection for bicyclists

    The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that 893 pedestrians were killed in California in 2018, a 26 percent increase from 2014. This figure represents a pedestrian fatality rate that is 25 percent higher than the national average. No state had more pedestrian deaths than California in 2018.

    More than 14,000 pedestrians were also injured here in 2018. These injuries have resulted in millions of dollars of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other losses for innocent victims.

    If you have been injured by a negligent driver while walking, you have the legal right to be compensated for your losses. Our California pedestrian accident attorneys fight hard for accident victims. We have collected over 200 million dollars for clients in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. We have over twenty years of experience, and we know how to negotiate fair settlement offers and effectively present cases to juries. 


    According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly six thousand pedestrians were killed in the United States in 2017. That means one pedestrian fatality approximately every 88 minutes. The CDC also reports that pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed than vehicle occupants involved in the same accident.  Here are some risk factors that increase a pedestrian’s chances of being involved in an auto accident: 

    • Alcohol impairment (about one in three pedestrians involved in accidents in 2017 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher)
    • Age (pedestrians aged younger than fifteen and older than 65 are more likely to be injured in car accidents)
    • High speeds
    • Walking in an urban area
    • Crossing the street outside of a designated intersection
    • Walking at night



    To stay safe, all road users must accept individual responsibility for engaging in safe behaviors. Here are some tips for avoiding accidents as a pedestrian or driver: 



    • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals. If drivers cannot anticipate your movements, it is more difficult for them to avoid hitting you. 
    • Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, as this is where drivers expect pedestrians to be. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
    • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely. Continue watching for traffic as you cross.
    • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
    • Keep alert at all times. Don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
    • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
    • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
    • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots. These tasks divert a driver’s attention and can make it more difficult for them to see pedestrians.
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking. They impair your abilities and judgment and have been proven to make it more likely for pedestrians to be involved in accidents.
    • Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
    Safety tips for crossing the street:
    • Stop at the curb (or the edge of the road if there is no curb).
    • Stop and look left. Look right, then left again before you step into the street.
    • If you see a car, wait until it goes by. Then look left, right, left again until no cars are coming.
    • If a car is parked where you are crossing, look to make sure there is no driver and that the car is not running.
    • Next, go to the edge of the car and look left-right-left to see if cars are coming.
    • When no cars are coming, it is safe to cross the road. Keep looking left-right-left for cars while you are crossing. 


    Children are more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents than adults, partially because children have less experience with the rules of the road. Parents should teach children to be aware of their surroundings. Among other things, this means: 

    • Not using electronic devices while walking. If the child does need to text, he or she should move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk
    • Not walking with headphones on or earbuds in.
    • Looking left, right, then left again before crossing the street.
    • Stay where drivers expect a pedestrian to be. It is best to walk on the sidewalk and cross only at crosswalks.
    • Do not make unexpected movements. Children are impulsive, and can sometimes dart out into the road unexpectedly. Teach your children the importance of being where drivers expect pedestrians to be.


    Safe Kids reports that half of the teens they surveyed admitted to crossing the street while distracted by a mobile device. The site also reports that a teen pedestrian is injured or killed every hour in the United States. These facts demonstrate the importance of demanding safe pedestrian behaviors from your teenagers. Here are some important reminders for teen pedestrians: 

    • Never let yourself be distracted by a mobile device while walking. Stop on the edge of the sidewalk to finish texts, emails, or posts before you continue walking. 
    • Be especially careful when walking around busy school parking lots. Traffic is very hectic here, and it can be difficult for drivers to see you. 
    • Be careful around new, inexperienced teen drivers. A high school parking lot is a busy jumble of traffic. The inexperience of these young drivers makes it more likely that they will cause accidents. Use extra caution and leave plenty of space for cars when walking near high schools, teen centers, and other places that young drivers will be gathered. 
    • Be sure drivers can anticipate your movements. Do not cross the street outside of designated intersections or crosswalks. Walk on the sidewalk. Do not jump out into traffic unexpectedly. 


    Drivers have a special duty of care when it comes to pedestrians. Pedestrians have no way to protect themselves from a possibly fatal collision with a vehicle, whereas a driver is expected to maintain control of the vehicle at all times. Drivers who fail to drive in a reasonably prudent way can be found negligent.

    Negligent drivers have a legal obligation to provide compensation to their victims for all losses that are incurred as a result of this negligence.  

    In order to stay safe and avoid liability, drivers must be alert and cautious at all times. Here are some safety tips to help drivers avoid pedestrian accidents: 

    • Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Safety is a shared responsibility. Drivers have even greater responsibilities than pedestrians because they are operating a potentially fatal vehicle. 
    • Use extra caution when backing up. Your attention is diverted, and it is difficult to see behind you. This can be a recipe for disaster.
    • Use extra caution at night, during inclement weather, and in other conditions that make it difficult to see. 
    • Slow down! The more time you have to see a pedestrian, the better options you will have for avoiding a collision. 
    • Slow down and use extra caution in work zones and school zones. These areas have a lot of pedestrians going in many different directions. It can be difficult to know where all these pedestrians are headed, so it is important to go very slowly and allow yourself plenty of space.  
    • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Make eye contact to indicate that you see them. Stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
    • Never pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks or speed around a slow vehicle in a lane of traffic. You might not be able to see an obstacle in the road ahead of them. 
    • Never allow yourself to become distracted by eating, mobile devices, navigation systems, or built-in entertainment systems. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can have fatal consequences.  
    • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. With the wide availability of ride-sharing apps, there is simply no reason to risk a fatal accident
    • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. 2017 saw an average of one death every four hours among teens aged 16-19. Males, teens driving with passengers, and newly licensed drivers are at the greatest risk for being involved in motor vehicle accidents. Parents can reduce these risks by understanding specific risk factors and addressing them with their teen drivers. 

    Many young teen drivers intend to drive safely, but road conditions sometimes get the better of them. Traffic, weather, and even friends in the car can increase the chances of a teen having a car accident. With little driving experience to work with, teens are not always prepared to avoid collisions. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that parents of teen drivers take the following safety measures: 

    • Choose a safe vehicle, avoiding those with a high tipping point that are easy to roll (such as SUVs) and flashy models that might encourage dangerous driving behaviors (such as convertibles and sports cars).
    • Enroll your teen in a driver’s education course.
    • Check with your insurance company to see if they offer safe driving discounts or programs for teen drivers. 
    • Teens are usually limited to driving during the day and without passengers by Graduated Driver’s Licensing programs because these have been proven to reduce the risk of having an accident. Even if your teen is driving in a state without such restrictions, parents should enact these safety precautions. 
    • Discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol use while driving. 
    • Ban all mobile device use while the vehicle is in motion. If your teen needs to make a call or send a text, the vehicle should be safely stopped out of the path of oncoming traffic.
    • Set a good example for your teen through your own driving behaviors. Wear your seatbelt, slow down, avoid distractions, and never engage in aggressive driving.


    School zones are some of the most dangerous areas on the road. There are many drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists trying to go in many directions at the same time. There are large buses whose drivers cannot see the surrounding area very well.

    At high schools, many inexperienced drivers might not know how best to deal with traffic and avoid a collision. All of these circumstances can be deadly for pedestrians in and around school zones.

    The National Safety Council has issued important safety tips for drivers in school zones: 
    • Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
    • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
    • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school
    • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
    • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
    • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
    • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
    • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
    • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
    • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
    • Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
    • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
    • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to enter and exit the bus safely
    • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
    • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
    • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
    • If you’re turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
    • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially tend to do this
    • Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
    • Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
    • Check side mirrors before opening your door

    How much is your pedestrian accident worth?

    Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a California Pedestrian Accident Attorney

    The best personal injury lawyers in California are right here at Arash Law. Our pedestrian accident attorneys have over twenty years of experience. We have collected over 200 million dollars for clients in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. We can help you access all sources of compensation from all potential defendants so that your legal rights are protected. 

    Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with an experienced California lawyer for injured pedestrians. Don’t delay – the sooner a lawyer represents you, the better protected your legal rights will be. Let us deal with the paperwork so you can focus on recovering from your injuries as quickly as possible.

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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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