In a recent Los Angeles car accident, a car hit three pedestrians crossing the street in an area near downtown Los Angeles. A 46 year old Mother and her two children were suddenly and without warning struck by a car while crossing in the intersection of James M. Wood Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Street. The pedestrians were taken to the hospital by ambulance but appeared to have suffered minor injuries. When a pedestrian is hit by a car, they should immediately seek medical attention. After seeking medical attention it is always best to consult with an accident attorney so that the injured persons are able to secure the compensation they are entitled to under California Law.
Rights of Pedestrians Injured in a Car Accident
If a pedestrian is injured by a motor vehicle in California, the pedestrian has legal rights to seek compensation for their injuries. Although a Pedestrian may be at fault for not using due care when crossing a road or highway, drivers of cars, truck or buses have a higher standard of care. Specifically, California Law provides that the duty amongst pedestrians and drivers to use reasonable care when operating a vehicle or using a highway does not require the same care as between drivers and pedestrians. California Civil Jury Instructions summarizes the law explaining to juror who may sit on a personal injury trial that while both pedestrians and drivers must be aware that motor vehicles can cause serious injuries, drivers of motor vehicles must use more care than pedestrians.
The higher standard of care for drivers arises out of the fact that using a motor vehicle on a highway can lead to serious or fatal injuries upon others. (See Cucinella v. Western Biscuit Company (1954) 42 Cal.2d 71, 81. In the case of Cucinella, the California Supreme Court held that the purpose of advising a jury as to the standards of care that a pedestrian or driver should use while operating a vehicle in California is to inform the trier of fact or jury that:
the conduct which qualifies as ordinary care when deciding a negligence action are those commensurate with the responsibility involved as a pedestrian as opposed to a driver and depend on the instrumentality being used or the act being performed as related to all of the surrounding circumstances of the accident.
Even if a pedestrian has some fault for failing to follow the law when entering a highway or street, they still may be able to bring a claim for damages.
For example, many accidents involve children who are struck by a car after darting out or playing in the street. In many instances drivers who are operating motor vehicles on residential streets exceed speed limits which are usually 20 mph or less. In those cases, even if a driver hits a child who was playing or darting out into the street, the may be held liable for the child’s injuries. Because California is a comparative law state, the driver’s liability may be reduced by a percentage of the driver’s fault. For example, if a jury finds that a driver injured a child and cause $1,000,000.00 in compensable damages but the driver was only 50% at fault, the child’s recovery would be $500,000.00.
Claims that An Injured Pedestrian Can Make
A pedestrian injured by a negligent driver in California is entitled to damages that will compensate them for the harm caused by the accident. Typically, the injured pedestrian is entitled to past and future medical bills, lost wages, damage to any personal property and damages for past and future pain and suffering, mental suffering and emotional distress. Pain and suffering is typically referred to as general damages in California. Such general damages include compensable damages for:
- Mental suffering;
- Physical Pain;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Emotional distress; and
- Physical Impairment
The pedestrian who is injured can explain general damages in with the help of their personal injury lawyer by detailing all of the injuries suffered as a result of the accident. Once explaining and setting forth those injuries, the injured party should then explain how their life is different as result of the accident including explaining what activities they can no longer engage in or what activities or aspects of daily life they now have to do while in pain.
It should be also noted that if an injured pedestrian is hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, they may seek compensation from their own uninsured motorist policy as long as the can prove that they were actually hit by a motor vehicle whether it is a car, bus, truck or other vehicle.
Glotzer & Leib, LLP