I Was Hit by a Car: Pedestrian Accidents 101


Pedestrians walking in a crosswalk

Car accidents involving pedestrians, also known as pedestrian accidents, are an extremely common occurrence that has increased by over 50% from 2009 to 2019, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Pedestrian accidents most commonly occur in urban locations and can leave rippling consequences for pedestrians and drivers alike.

There were over 6,205 pedestrian deaths in 2019 alone, which accounts for roughly 17% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

If you’re involved in a pedestrian car accident, you need to know your rights.

Our team of highly experienced pedestrian accident attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm has compiled a complete guide to answer all the questions you may have about your pedestrian car injury.

Who Is Considered a Pedestrian?

A pedestrian is defined as a person who is walking, running, or using a wheelchair. Pedestrians can also include people riding non-motorized vehicles such as skateboards, scooters, or roller skates, but they do not normally include those riding the standard bicycle.

Is a Bicyclist Considered a Pedestrian?

Depending on the state you reside in, a bicyclist can either be considered a pedestrian, a motorist, or a hybrid of the two.

While a bicycle may not be considered a vehicle, bicyclists often have the same responsibilities as motorists and must abide by traffic rules as if they were driving a vehicle.

The confusing subject matter has led to individual states adopting specific laws for cyclists. For example, in California, while a pedestrian is allowed to stop in crosswalks, a bicyclist is not.

What Is the Right of Way?

The right of way is considered as a pedestrian or vehicle’s right to proceed. 

Many laws and vehicle codes including the California Vehicle Code 21950 will refer to “yielding your right-of-way,” or letting the other person proceed before you.

Conflicting notions of right of way can cause car accidents and even worse, pedestrian accidents.

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

For the most part, pedestrians will always possess the right of way in marked or unmarked crosswalks and on the sidewalk. However, there are certain exceptions to the rule, like in California where the pedestrian does not always possess the right of way.

According to California Vehicle Code section 21950, a pedestrian is not allowed to walk in the path of a vehicle or pose themselves as an immediate hazard, even while in a crosswalk. 

Can Pedestrians Ever Be at Fault During a Pedestrian Car Accident?

There’s a common misconception that pedestrians always have the right of way, which means they can never be held responsible for a pedestrian car accident. However, that’s not true in all instances.

There are exceptions where the pedestrian can be at fault for the accident such as:

  • Jaywalking or ignoring traffic signals
  • Walking along non-pedestrian prohibited locations like highways or bridges 
  • Entering a street while intoxicated
  • Intentionally posing as an immediate hazard

Even if the pedestrian is at fault, both parties might share the blame due to Comparative Negligence.

What Is Comparative Negligence In a Pedestrian Accident?

Comparative negligence is when both the driver as well as the pedestrian share the fault of the accident. For instance, if a driver is speeding but an intoxicated individual darts in front of the car outside of a crosswalk, both parties are at fault.

What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

Pedestrian accidents can be caused in a multitude of ways, the most common being:

  • Distracted Driving: Operation of a vehicle while using a mobile phone or electronic device
  • Crosswalk Accidents: Failure to yield to a pedestrian using a crosswalk
  • Reckless Driving: Speeding, ignoring traffic signals, or failure to yield
  • Driving While Intoxicated: Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Unsafe Conditions: Hazards such as unrepaired potholes, poorly maintained sidewalks, or any other unsafe conditions on the premises  
  • Left-Hand Turns: Turning into traffic and often speeding through crosswalks
  • Backing-Up Accidents: Accidents involving backing out or in, most commonly found in parking lots

Injuries Associated with Pedestrian Accidents

Accidents can have a wide range of outcomes depending on a handful of variables such as car speed, vehicle type, and the age of the pedestrian accident victim.

Statistically, most pedestrian accident victims are most likely to suffer injuries in the form of:

Wilshire Law Firm was recognized by TopVerdict.com for having the Number 1 Pedestrian Accidents Settlement for Single-Plaintiff Cases in the U.S. in 2019. If you’re the victim of a pedestrian accident and suffer from any of the following injuries, contact our knowledgeable team of pedestrian accident attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm for a free consultation at (800) 501-3011.

How Severe Are Injuries of Pedestrians Involved in Motor Vehicle Crashes?

Pedestrian motor vehicle accidents can range in severity from as little as a scratch or as serious as death. There are extra variables that can dramatically impact the severity of the accident.

According to the CDC’s Pedestrian Safety Data, nearly half (47%) of all pedestrian accidents that resulted in death involved alcohol consumption by the pedestrian and/or the driver.

Additionally, catastrophic injuries such as damage to the spine, skull, and spinal cord have been recorded as result of pedestrian accidents.

Where Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur Most? 

Pedestrian accidents can occur almost anywhere that involves cars and on-foot traffic. These locales are more typically found in urban areas rather than rural areas.

Nearly 75% of pedestrian accidents occur in urban locations, most likely due to the clashing of motor vehicles and on-foot traffic in densely populated areas.

Bar chart of pedestrian accidents by location

When Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur Most?

Pedestrian accidents are most likely to occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight with approximately 3,371 deaths recorded in 2019, according to IIHS.

Conversely, the fewest pedestrian accidents occur between 6 a.m. and noon with approximately 850 deaths recorded in 2019.

Interstate Highway Pedestrian Accidents

While pedestrian auto accidents are most commonly experienced on the street or in crosswalks, highway pedestrian accidents also take up a portion of the total annual pedestrian accidents.

After a highway car accident, people often leave their car for a multitude of reasons.
This poses many hazards for oncoming traffic that may not be fully aware of the situation.

Highway pedestrian accidents occur when:

  • Tending to a Crash: Highway accident victims leaving their vehicle to exchange insurance information
  • Standing or Walking on Shoulder: Abandoning a car to exit the interstate
  • Pushing a Vehicle: Pushing a stalled vehicle off of the interstate 
  • Hitchhiking / Soliciting: Standing on the shoulder flagging down vehicles
  • Fixing a Vehicle: Changing a flat tire on the side of the road

Hit and Run Accidents Involving Pedestrians

Pedestrian accidents are serious matters, but if the car that hit you has fled the scene, the situation becomes so much more severe. It is a criminal offense to flee the scene of a car accident if it causes property damage or bodily harm.

Fatal hit and run accidents account for over 1,290 deaths a year, which is over 20% of all pedestrian accidents. If you’ve been involved in this type of accident, our hit and run accident lawyers can help.

Get a Free Consultation for Your Pedestrian Accident

Regardless of what type of pedestrian accident you were involved in, we can help you fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fees unless you win your case. Our legal team is standing by 24/7 to assist you. For immediate assistance, give us a call at (800) 501-3011 or fill out our online form for a FREE consultation.

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