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Personal Injury Blog

Can a Pedestrian Ever Be Held Liable for a Road Accident?

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

In cases of collisions with moving vehicles, pedestrians can suffer significant injuries even from very minor impacts. It tends to be pretty difficult to view the pedestrian with much liability in an accident. Especially when they suffer a broken bone or serious laceration while the vehicle has barely a dent on it. Yet, just because a pedestrian can suffer a serious injury at the hands of a vehicle does not completely excuse them from all cases of liability for the accident. 

Pedestrian Negligence as Liability

It is obviously the responsibility of drivers to drive safely as well as to watch and yield to pedestrians. However, it is also similarly the pedestrians' responsibility to ensure caution when crossing trafficked areas for their own safety. Not using the appropriate caution, taking illegal actions, or just acting recklessly in the situation can have the pedestrian held liable for their own accident or at least contributing to it.

Negligent pedestrian behaviors include:

  • Jaywalking

  • Crossing the street without the walk signal

  • Standing behind vehicles

  • Standing in the street

  • Crossing in front of vehicles with no signal

All of the above can be classified as pedestrian negligence, and thus can mean that the pedestrian is at fault for the accident. However, this doesn't mean they are without options for covering their injuries. Even if a pedestrian is at fault, California is a comparative negligence state. This means that even those at fault for an accident can receive some compensation.

What to Expect Under Comparative Negligence

California, among many other states, follows the rules of comparative negligence when it comes to liability in an accident. Under comparative negligence, those who may have had some negligence in their own accident can only recover compensation of the percentage they were not responsible for.

So if a pedestrian jaywalked into traffic and the courts decide that they are 20% responsible for the accident, and they are awarded $100,000 for it, they can only receive 80% compensation, or $80,000.

Alternatively, if it is deemed that the pedestrian was 99% at fault in their accident, they can still recover that 1% compensation. This will be unlikely enough to cover their injuries. Comparative negligence is particularly beneficial for people like those pedestrians in accidents. If they were at fault, they still likely got hurt. And with the healthcare system as it is, they will still require compensation for those medical bills.

Need Help?

If you were a pedestrian in an accident that may have been caused by your own negligence, you may feel like you don't have a lot of options available. You caused it and you may feel like you definitely will be paying for your own medical bills. However, that may not always be the case. In many cases, both parties do share some fault. Due to the potentially serious nature of your injuries, you owe it to yourself to see if there is at least something that can be done.

Are you a pedestrian that has been in an accident? Regardless of whether it was your fault or not, contact us today. We make sure to get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

Lane Splitting Accident: Understanding Who is Liable

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Lane splitting or lane sharing is the act of a motorcyclist riding between two lanes of traffic. If you are familiar with Los Angeles traffic gridlocks, you are likely familiar with at least seeing the process done. California is one of the few states in which the maneuver of lane splitting is explicitly stated as legal. Perhaps solely because traffic can get so bad in larger cities. While motorcycles are free to split the lane between stopped or slow-moving traffic, it must be done safely. If you have been in a lane splitting accident, here is who may hold the fault.

Who is at Fault in a Lane Splitting Accident?

If it happened in almost any other state, a lane splitting accident liability would be placed solely on the motorcyclist. They were at fault for engaging in an illegal – or at least unofficial – behavior, so the accident is on them. However, the legality of lane splitting in California is confirmed by California Vehicle Code 21658.1 that has been in effect since January 1st, 2017. This means that motorcycles are not the automatic culprit anymore.

Determining Fault

Immediately after an accident, the first thing you should do is contact the police. The police will file a police report on the accident. They will examine the scene, outline the details and events of the accident, and gather contact information. At times, even reviewing the police report can create a clear picture of liability in the accident.

The Benefit of Witnesses

One of the small benefits that lane splitting accidents have is that the only time motorcyclists would want to employ lane splitting is when there are quite a few other drivers around. Every driver nearby is a witness to your accident. This can work to your benefit if you are not at fault. Witness statements can be very powerful in cementing the events of an auto accident and defining clear liability. It may be a hard sell getting those drivers to stick around after a lane splitting accident. You do want to at least get their contact information for potential later use.

When Speed is a Factor

If a motorcyclist is driving defensively when they are lane splitting, in most cases the other driver will be at fault for not checking their blind spots. Outside of just swerving the motorcycle into another vehicle, there isn't much that can seemingly put the motorcyclist at fault. However, there is one consideration to keep in mind – speeding. The law that legalized lane splitting for motorcyclists put a flexible speed limit on the act. It is recommended that you don't go over 40 mph while lane splitting. So the act becomes illegal if you are going over 10 mph faster than traffic is currently moving. This means if you were cruising through at top speed, liability can be placed on the motorcyclist because they were technically speeding at the time.

Need Help?

If you have been in a lane splitting accident, you will want to make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve. Have you been in an accident and need help navigating the complicated insurance or legal process? Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can do to help you.


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