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Filing a Lawsuit Following a California Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrians face tremendous risks whenever they venture onto public roads and sidewalks or find themselves near bicyclists, scooter riders, and motor vehicles. If any of these parties are negligent, it can spell disaster for an innocent pedestrian and devastating repercussions for their loved ones.

Pedestrian accidents can cause catastrophic injuries as well as wrongful death. According to an ABC7 News article, a quarter of California’s fatalities are caused by pedestrian accidents, with a gradual increase over the past decade.

If you were injured or have a loved one who was the victim of injury or wrongful death due to a pedestrian accident, it is important to consult with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. These types of cases are complex, vary by state and require an attorney’s expertise for you to receive maximum compensation.

This post outlines some critical information about California pedestrian accidents.

Pedestrian Accidents - Determining Liability

Pedestrian accidents are a huge concern in highly populated states. In the first half of 2023 alone, there were almost 500 pedestrian fatalities in California.

Although determining who can be held at fault in a pedestrian accident may require time and investigation, there are some parties commonly named as defendants in pedestrian accident cases:

  • A negligent driver who failed to yield at an intersection.
  • A negligent motorist who strikes a pedestrian in a work zone, near a bus stop or stopped school bus, or in a parking lot.
  • Other pedestrians, cyclists, or e-scooter riders who negligently cause pedestrians harm.
  • Premises owners who fail to address property hazards they knew or should have known about, including slip, trip, and fall hazards.
  • Contractors, developers, and other controlling parties responsible for hazards on or near construction sites.
  • Manufacturers, distributors, and/or retailers responsible for defective products

Determining liability is a fact-specific task. In some cases, it may be possible to hold multiple parties liable for your damages. In others, parties may be held liable for a portion of your damages equivalent to their percentage of fault. An experienced California pedestrian accident attorney can help you better understand your options after reviewing your case.

When A Pedestrian Accident Causes A Wrongful Death

If the pedestrian accident causes the death of the victim it is crucial to understand what it means to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit. These are civil claims brought against individuals and/or entities alleged to have caused a person’s preventable death.

California’s wrongful death laws can be found in sections 377.60 through 377.62 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Per California law, surviving family members and a decedent’s estate can sue for damages when a person dies because of someone else’s negligent or wrongful acts, or when an individual or entity is strictly liable for losses.

As with other civil personal injury claims, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases must prove:

  • The existence of a legal duty between the defendant and plaintiffs;
  • A breach of duty (often as a result of negligence);
  • Causation, which means showing that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial cause of death; and
  • Damages suffered by the decedent, estate, and/or survivors.

In California, wrongful death cases technically involve two separate claims:

  • A wrongful death action, which is brought by surviving family members for damages they suffered due to their loved one’s death.
  • A survival action, which is brought by the deceased person’s estate on behalf of the decedent for damages they would have been entitled to had they lived (i.e. pain and suffering).

Survival actions and wrongful death actions are typically coupled together. Our attorneys can explain how these claims work and what we can do in your particular case during a consultation.

California Comparative Negligence

When understanding wrongful death in the state of California, it is important to also understand what it means for California to be a comparative negligence state. When determining fault in an accident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian, both parties can potentially be held responsible for violating a traffic law or causing an accident. When a pedestrian is struck by a car, they have limited protection against the impact of a vehicle, often resulting in severe injuries, that can lead to wrongful death.

In a pedestrian right-of-way state like California, it is generally assumed that when a pedestrian is hit, the fault lies entirely with the driver of the vehicle. However, comparative negligence laws allow the defense to attempt to minimize the driver’s liability if the pedestrian was not demonstrating an appropriate duty of care to themself. It is important to work with your attorney to fully investigate your case to determine that you have the proper grounds to bring forth a wrongful death claim due to a pedestrian accident.

Contact Our San Francisco California Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

The San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Bostwick & Peterson LLP have decades of experience in wrongful death and pedestrian accident cases. If you have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one due to a pedestrian accident caused by the negligence of another, you deserve compensation to help with your pain and suffering. With many multi-million dollar wrongful death verdicts, our firm understands what it takes to secure compensation for victims and families.

While we cannot undo the tragedy you have gone through, we can help you seek the justice you deserve. Contact one of our experienced attorneys to discuss your case.