Understanding Your Rights as a Pedestrian


The way San Francisco was planned is unique. Without major freeways directing traffic around the city, and a substantial amount of foot traffic, it makes for some of the most dangerous conditions for pedestrians anywhere in the country.

Elsewhere in the country, about 11% of fatal traffic accidents are pedestrians. In San Francisco that number rises to 50%. Each year, over 800 pedestrians are injured or killed and this has entirely to do with the amount of foot traffic and the fact that auto traffic is directed through the heart of the city.

While San Francisco has taken measures to reduce the problem, and there are fewer pedestrian accidents today than there were 10 years ago, the number is still very high in relation to other major cities.

If you are injured in a traffic accident in San Francisco, understand that you have rights. In this article, we’ll explain your options and how you can go about recovering damages.

Pedestrians’ Rights in Traffic

Under most circumstances, pedestrians have the right of way, but there are certain circumstances under which a pedestrian can be liable for their own injuries—at least partially. These can include:

● Jaywalking or crossing in the middle of the street,
● Crossing the street outside of the crosswalk,
● Disobeying traffic signals or crossing when they’re not supposed to.

For as much as distracted driving has skyrocketed in the past decade, pedestrians are sometimes to blame for distracted walking. Sometimes it really is the pedestrian’s fault when they are struck by a vehicle.

California’s Pure Comparative Negligence Law

Under a pure comparative negligence rule, an injured party can bring a lawsuit against another party regardless of who is more “at fault” for the accident. So long as the other party bears some of the blame, the injured party can file a lawsuit against them. One restriction, however, is that they are only liable for a percentage of your damages in the amount of their blame.

For instance, if a pedestrian checking his or her cell phones walks into the street and gets hit by a car, the pedestrian is mostly at fault for the accident. But what if the car was speeding? Then the pedestrian’s injuries would be worse than they would have been if the car was obeying the laws of traffic. So part of the blame goes to the pedestrian for not paying attention, and part of the blame goes to the driver for driving too fast.

In other words, just because you were partially to blame for your injuries does not mean that you don’t have the right to be compensated for them. In other states, this is not the case. A negligent plaintiff may be barred from filing a lawsuit, or may only file a lawsuit if they are less than 51% at fault. In California, the only reason you could not file a lawsuit is if it was determined that you are 100% at fault.

Recovering Damages as an Injured Pedestrian

As a pedestrian injured by a motor vehicle, you make a claim against the driver’s auto insurance. If you choose to do this on your own, you would submit a demand letter and then negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. When you have minor injuries, this is a fine path to take. When you have serious injuries that require that you miss time from work, surgery, or a period of rehabilitation, you’re going to want to make sure that you get every penny you’re owed.

The majority of pedestrian accidents result in serious injuries. Hundreds of pedestrians die each year in California due to traffic accidents. When your injuries are serious and you’re missing time from work, you want to have a lawyer evaluate your case. You may be owed more money than you think you are. Elements of a personal injury lawsuit like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment are difficult are likely injuries that you would have a difficult time collecting on your own.

A personal injury attorney that handles pedestrian accidents can help you evaluate how much your individual claim is worst. It’s sure to be worth a lot more than the insurance company will open up negotiations with.

Contact a San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured by a San Francisco driver in a pedestrian accident, chances are your case is better than you think. Even when the accident was partially your fault, you can still recover damages for your injuries. Contact the personal injury attorneys at The Wakeford Law Firm and we’ll chat about your situation and what you can or cannot recover.

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