Pedestrian Right of Way in California
- September 30, 2015
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It’s imperative that everyone who uses the roadways understands right of way laws. Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians must all learn to share the road so that everyone can get to their destinations safely. By understanding the laws, as well as exercising courtesy and common sense, we can all travel throughout California in our preferred mode of transportation – whether it be by foot, car, bicycle or skateboard – without having to worry about a serious accident.
The law states that drivers must always yield to pedestrians – whether or not they are in a marked crosswalk. It may not always be a good idea for a pedestrian to cross an intersection at any random time, but if a motorist does see pedestrians crossing a road, he or she should always stop and allow them to continue to cross rather than refusing to yield and ultimately running them over. This could result in a citation or even criminal charges depending on the situation.
Motorists should never stop in a crosswalk or pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. It’s important to respect the rights of pedestrians, especially those who are disabled, elderly or with small children.
Not all motorists are to blame for pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians must look out for their own safety and not assume that vehicles will automatically stop for them, especially in heavy traffic. Pedestrians must be aware of hazards and understand the dangers of crossing a road in an unmarked crosswalk or when they do not have the green light to cross. If a pedestrian disregards his or her own safety and crosses a road in a dangerous area, and ultimately gets hit and injured, then he or she could be at fault.
So how exactly is liability determined? It’s based on several factors, including duty of care. This means that motorists have a responsibility to avoid hitting pedestrians, whether or not they are in a crosswalk. When the motorist fails to slow down or swerve to avoid hitting the pedestrian, then he or she has breached the duty. The victim must then prove that the driver’s actions – refusing to stop – caused the subsequent injuries. Finally, there must some sort of damages. If the pedestrian almost got hit or was hit but not hurt, then there is no case.
It’s important to understand that California is a comparative negligence state. This means that if victims can still recover compensation for damages even if they were partially at fault for an accident. However, compensation is reduced based on the percentage of fault.