Earlier this month, two pedestrians were struck and killed in Huntington Beach traffic accidents. The two accidents occurred several hours apart and are believed to be unrelated. However, reports indicate that neither pedestrian was using a crosswalk at the time the accidents occurred.
Huntington Beach doesn’t rank as one of the most dangerous places in the state for pedestrians. Compared to other cities of the same size and population, Huntington Beach is right in the middle. About half of those other cities report more pedestrian accidents. The other half report fewer pedestrian-involved crashes.
This isn’t to say that pedestrian accidents aren’t problematic in the Orange County city. Accidents involving pedestrians regularly account for anywhere between 4 and 6 percent of traffic accidents in the city.
More recent accident statistics indicate that Huntington Beach roads have not gotten much safer for pedestrians.
Children and seniors tend to be involved in injury-causing and fatal pedestrian accidents more than other demographic groups. In 2016, nearly 12 percent of all pedestrian accidents in Huntington Beach involved children under the age of 15. That same year, more than 16 percent of pedestrian collisions involved a victim over the age of 65.
It’s common to point fingers at drivers of large vehicles after an accident involving a pedestrian. However, drivers aren’t always responsible for these crashes. Pedestrians also have a responsibility to use care and caution while walking.
Don’t pedestrians always have the right of way? No. According to California Vehicle Code 21950 VC, pedestrians only have the right of way if they:
In other words, pedestrians have to make sure that the coast is clear before they attempt to cross the road. If entering a crosswalk would create a hazard, they’re prohibited from doing so.
Pedestrians can be liable for traffic accidents if they create a hazard by jumping out into traffic or fail to cross at an intersection.
According to reports, the two pedestrians killed in the Huntington Beach accidents were not using crosswalks when they were struck and killed. The vehicles in both accidents had green lights and were lawfully passing through an intersection. By not using a crosswalk, the pedestrians created a hazard.
Absent any conflicting evidence or information – such as distracted or drunk driving – an investigation will probably find that the pedestrians were responsible for the fatal crashes.
California follows the rule of comparative fault. This means that the families of the victims may not be able to recover compensation if their loved ones were responsible for their own accidents. However, this will only be the case if the pedestrians are entirely at fault for the crashes. The families will be entitled to a portion of their damages if someone else also contributed to the accidents.
100 percent fault: Let’s say the pedestrians are entirely to blame for their fatal accidents. Their families will be barred from recovering compensation.
Less than 100 percent fault: Let’s say the pedestrians were each 80 percent liable for their fatal accidents. The drivers in the crashes were 20 percent to blame. The families will be able to recover 20 percent of their damages (100 percent reduced by 80 percent fault).
The less the pedestrians contributed to the accidents, the more their families will be able to recover through wrongful death lawsuits.
It’s always best to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer after an accident. Contact Glotzer & Leib, LLP to schedule a free consultation.
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