Los Angeles is a particularly dangerous city for pedestrians. The number of pedestrian accidents and fatalities is rising, and as the streets become more congested, that number is expected to increase. In the period between 2007 to 2017, a 28-percent increase in Los Angeles pedestrian fatalities stands in stark contrast to a decrease in overall traffic deaths. This reflects a 15-year high in pedestrian fatalities. While these numbers may not be shocking to some Angelenos, it is concerning to anyone who enjoys the pleasure and health benefits of walking.
While attempts have been made to make the city safer and provide adequate venues for the disabled in recent years, the high incidence of pedestrian deaths and traumatic injuries remains. To pay steep medical bills and make up for lost time at work or end-of-life financial loss, the insight of an experienced personal injury lawyer is essential.
Pedestrian Laws in Los Angeles
While pedestrians have the right of way, particularly at intersections and crosswalks, they do share some duties of the road. Some common obligations pedestrians have are:
- Looking both ways before entering the street is mandatory.
- Pedestrians should not cross at an intersection when a do not walk sign is enabled.
- Pedestrians should not walk while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Pedestrians should not text or talk on a cell phone to avoid distractions.
- Pedestrians should not enter the street from between parked vehicles.
- Pedestrians should not walk on bridges or highways since these areas are prohibited for walkers.
- Pedestrians should not dart into the street.
- Pedestrians should not jaywalk. If an accident occurs because of this, the pedestrian may be held responsible.
Responsibilities Motorists Have
The top responsibilities of motorists are:
- Yielding to pedestrians: Pedestrians always have the right-of-way and this is particularly true at intersections and crosswalks.
- Not driving impaired: Drunk or drugged driving limits a motorists reaction time and cognitive abilities.
- Speeding: Driving over the speed limit is dangerous and leads to more significant pedestrian injuries.
- Drowsy driving: This can cause the driver to miss seeing a pedestrian in his or her path.
- Not using a turn signal: Turning without using a turn signal can make the pedestrian believe you are going forward, with disastrous consequences.
Dangerous Intersections in Los Angeles
According to the L.A. Times, the most dangerous intersections in Los Angeles out of 187 over 12 years are:
- Slauson and Western Avenues: This is the most dangerous intersection. Out of 158 collisions, there were two fatalities and 48 hit and runs.
- Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue: This intersection had 154 collisions, two fatalities and 43 hit and runs.
- Martin King Jr. Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard: Here, 146 collisions occurred with three fatalities and 30 hit and runs.
- Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard: This intersection had 92 collisions, one death and 19 hit and runs.
- Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue: Here, 133 collisions, two deaths and 25 hit and runs took place.
- Manchester Avenue and Vermont Avenue: This intersection had 163 collisions, one death and 44 hit and runs.
- Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue: Here, 130 collisions, no deaths and 30 hit and runs took place.
- Western Avenue and Vernon Avenue: One-hundred and twenty-one collisions, one death and 44 hit and runs took place here
Pedestrian Laws for Drivers
Drivers must follow the following rules:
- Do not pass a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk. The driver may be waiting for a pedestrian to cross.
- Drivers must always yield to pedestrians.
- Drivers must never stop in a crosswalk. It puts pedestrians in danger since they must go around the stopped vehicle.
- Stop within five feet of an intersection if a blind person is attempting to cross.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident With a Pedestrian
There are immediate steps a driver should take after a car accident. They are:
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident. If you do, this would be considered a hit and run.
- Make sure your passengers are all right.
- Check to see if the pedestrian is injured. They most likely will be, so it is best to call for an ambulance or the police. It is always a good idea to have a police report.
- Look for witnesses and obtain their contact information. Chances are witnesses will have seen the accident unfold, something that will be important in your case.
- If another vehicle is involved, obtain the driver’s contact and insurance information. If the vehicle left the scene of the accident, try to see if anyone remembers the make and model of the car, the license plate number (even a fragment is helpful) or any distinguishing decals that were on the vehicle.
- Document the scene of the accident using your cell phone camera. Pictures of street signs are helpful to document location. Take photos of stop or yield signs, traffic lights and pedestrian signals also.
- Seek medical attention even if you have no symptoms. This is important since many injuries show up days later, and having a baseline physical exam is important.
Compensation in Pedestrian Cases
In most cases, it is the operator of the motor vehicle who will be considered to be at fault. In a few instances, the pedestrian may share the responsibility. This occurs when the pedestrian runs out into the street or disobeys his or her other responsibilities. Even if the pedestrian was partly responsible, they will be able to be compensated under California’s comparative fault laws. This means if the walker was 25 percent responsible, they still can collect 75 percent of their damages.
Pedestrians have the right to be compensated for medical bills, lost time from work and pain and suffering. If the pedestrian was killed in the accident, their family may file a wrongful death claim against the driver. This will pay for end of life and funeral expenses as well as the financial loss the family will experience if the individual was a vital part of their monetary support system.