In Orange County, walking is a popular way for many people to get exercise or get to work or school. However, the county's roadways are not always safe for pedestrian traffic. Driver negligence or carelessness is one of the most common reasons why pedestrian accidents occur in Orange County. Pedestrian accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Orange County, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages and losses you have sustained. Many suffer permanent injuries and disabilities in these types of accidents and are left with a lifetime of chronic pain and inability to earn a livelihood. An experienced Orange County pedestrian accident lawyer will be able to offer more information to victims and their families about pursuing their legal rights.
Pedestrian Fatalities at a 30-Year High
A 2019 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) states that nearly 6,590 pedestrian accident fatalities occurred during that year, the highest number in more than three decades. GHSA reported that in the past decade alone, the number of fatalities on U.S. roadways has increased by more than 50%. Pedestrians accounted for 17% of all car accident deaths in 2019 compared to 12% in 2009. While pedestrian deaths have been increasing significantly over the past decade, the number of all other traffic deaths has increased only by 2%.
Here are some of the common trends observed in pedestrian accidents:
- Most pedestrian fatalities take place on local roads, at night and away from intersections suggesting the need for safer road crossings and increased efforts to make pedestrians and vehicles more visible. Over the last 10 years, the number of nighttime pedestrian deaths increased by 67% compared to a 16% increase in daytime pedestrian deaths.
- Reckless and unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, driving while distracted and drowsy driving, pose risks to pedestrians.
- Pedestrians struck by large SUVs are twice as likely to die compared to those struck by a car. The number of pedestrian fatalities over the last decade involving SUVs increased at a faster rate (81%) compared to passenger cars, which increased by 53%.
- Alcohol impairment, on the part of the driver or the pedestrian, was reported in nearly half of all traffic collisions that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2018.
Laws Relating to Orange County Pedestrians
Under California Vehicle Code, motorists are required to follow certain laws and "rules of the road" when it comes to pedestrians:
Right of way: The driver of a vehicle is required to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
Crosswalk laws: Motorists are prohibited under the law from stopping in a crosswalk, which puts pedestrians in a position to walk around the vehicle, exposing them to danger. Motorists are also prohibited from passing a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk because that vehicle may have stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross.
Jaywalking: Pedestrians are required under the law to walk in areas designated for walking such as sidewalks and crosswalks. For example, it is against the law to cross mid-block. However, drivers also have a responsibility to exercise due care even in cases where pedestrians may not be walking in crosswalks.
Pulling out of alleys: Drivers pulling out of public or private driveways must yield right-of-way to pedestrians and oncoming vehicles.
Speed limits: Motorists are required to observe posted speed limits. These speed limits are especially important in school zones and residential areas where children may be walking.
Definition of pedestrian: A pedestrian, under California law, is also a person who is using a skateboard, a scooter or roller skates or rollerblades. A disabled person is considered to be a pedestrian if he or she is using a wheelchair or motorized scooter for transportation.
What to Do If You Are Injured in Orange County
If you have been injured in an Orange County pedestrian accident, the first step is to make sure you are physically all right. If you have been injured, make sure you are transported to the emergency room. If you are unable to get up, wait for emergency personnel to arrive at the scene. Talk to police officers and give them your version of what occurred. Obtain a copy of the car accident police report from the agency that responded. Your pedestrian accident lawyer can also help you obtain this report.
Documenting the scene of the crash is also crucial. Take photographs or videos on your cell phone. Capture the scene including any stop or yield signs, crosswalks or traffic signals. Obtain information for the driver and other parties involved. Get contact information for any eyewitnesses at the scene. This type of information might be critical when it comes to strengthening your personal injury case.
Keep a record of all the expenses you incurred including medical bills, income lost as a result of your injuries, other costs that were not reimbursed such as cost of rehabilitative therapy and treatments.
It is also important that you stay away from social media sites. Do not post anything about your accident. Even something you post innocently or unconnected to the incident may be used against you. It might be best to suspend all social media activity until your pedestrian accident claim is settled. What you say or post online has the potential to jeopardize your claim.
Proven Pedestrian Accident Protection
Contact an experienced Orange County pedestrian accident lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Pedestrian accident cases may become complex especially when they involve governmental agencies. In such cases, injury claims must be filed within 180 days of the incident under California Government Code Section 911.2.
An experienced Orange County pedestrian accident lawyer with Timothy J. Ryan and Associates can help evaluate your case thoroughly and help you seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Call us at 1-800-838-6644 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.