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When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles roads continue to be a dangerous place for pedestrians. Earlier this month, a pedestrian was killed when he was walking near the intersection of walking near the intersection of Central Avenue Olympic Boulevard. Reports explain that a semi-truck struck the pedestrian and then immediately fled the scene. This latest fatal pedestrian accident highlights an important issue in Los Angeles. When do pedestrians have the right of way?

Pedestrian Right of Way

California law is fairly clear about when pedestrians shall have the right of way. California Vehicle Code Section 21950 VC states that motor vehicles are required to yield to all pedestrians crossing the street “within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” Simply put, drivers have to be mindful of when pedestrians are within an intersection. Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or intersection can have tragic consequences.

Pedestrians Must Exercise Caution

What if a pedestrian is about to enter a crosswalk, but hasn’t yet entered the dedicated crossing space? The law is less clear. The Vehicle Code also states that pedestrians cannot “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety” into to the path of a motor vehicle and cause “an immediate hazard.” What exactly does this mean?

There are two important takeaways from this part of the Vehicle Code. First, pedestrians should only cross a road at an intersection or marked crosswalk. Drivers understand that pedestrians will use these dedicated spaces to cross the street and can use extra caution when approaching them. Pedestrians who jaywalk may pose an “immediate hazard” and put themselves (and others) at risk.

Second, pedestrians must exercise caution and make sure that the coast is clear before crossing. If a pedestrian sees that there is a constant flow of traffic, or that a car is quickly approaching, entering a crosswalk would be incredibly dangerous. Or, as California law states, leaving the safety of the curb and entering the path of a car would create an immediate hazard.

Motor Vehicle Right of Way

Pedestrians do not always have the right of way in Los Angeles. California Vehicle Code Section 21954(a) VC states that whenever a pedestrian is on a roadway, at a place other than within a marked crosswalk or intersection, must yield to all vehicles on the road. So, a pedestrian really only has the right of way when they are within the confines of a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Pedestrians on any other place in the roadway must yield the right of way to cars at all other times.

Negligence For Not Knowing the Right of Way

Most traffic accidents, including those involving pedestrians, occur because of driver or pedestrian negligence. Negligence occurs when a person has and breaches a duty of care, which causes another person to suffer harm. As a driver or pedestrian on the road, you have an obligation to know applicable traffic laws and customs. One thing that you should know is who has the right of way, and when. Failure to know California right-of-way policies can be considered negligence.

Recovering Damages After a Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrians do not always have the right of way in Los Angeles. Can failure to yield to a vehicle or causing an immediate hazard prevent an injured pedestrian from recovering compensation after an accident? Not necessarily.

California law is based on the theory of comparative fault, which means that an accident victim can recover damages even if they contributed to the cause of their injury. Instead of prohibiting a victim from recovering compensation, California law simply states that a victim’s award will be reduced by his or her own degree of fault. However, this only applies when a pedestrian is partially responsible for an accident. Another person must also be at fault. Full responsibility for an accident will bar a victim from recovering damages.

Get Help from Our Personal Injury Lawyers

Have you been injured as a pedestrian in Los Angeles? Did a pedestrian jump out in front of your car and cause an accident? If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident you may be entitled to compensation. Call the personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles at Glotzer & Leib, LLP for help getting the money you deserve after an accident. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to contact us today.

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