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Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents

| Mar 30, 2018 | Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise in the United States in recent years, and they account for 16% of all deaths in motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, the San Diego area is no exception; San Diego County ranked seventh highest in pedestrian traffic deaths in the nation, according to a 2016 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). These pedestrian accidents can occur for a number of different reasons, and both drivers and pedestrians can play a role.

Pedestrians and Comparative Negligence

Following a pedestrian accident, the courts will review the circumstances of the case to determine who was at fault. A pedestrian can receive compensation for their injuries, even if they were partially responsible. California follows comparative negligence laws, which means that if the driver is found to be at fault at all, the pedestrian can receive some compensation.

Some common factors involved in accidents include:

Traffic Violations

A driver may be found at fault if they do not obey the rules of the road. This includes following laws regarding right of way, intersections, crosswalks, traffic signals, and signs.
Just as drivers have an obligation to obey traffic laws, pedestrians must follow pedestrian traffic regulations. If a pedestrian jaywalks or crosses a street outside of a crosswalk, they may be found partially responsible for any resulting accidents.


Both pedestrians and drivers can contribute to a traffic accident if they do not give their full attention to traffic conditions. A pedestrian who is busy listening to music on their headphones may not hear the sound of an oncoming car. A driver preoccupied with adjusting their GPS system may not see a pedestrian crossing in front of them.
Cell phone use is a major source of distraction for both drivers and pedestrians. Smartphone use increased by 236% between 2010 and 2016, and data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance database indicates that the number of ER visits related to cell phone use has increased at a similar rate over the same period.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Use of alcohol or drugs can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle, and alcohol and drug use can also make a pedestrian less aware of their surroundings. In nearly one half of pedestrian deaths, the driver or pedestrian had consumed alcohol.
Some safety advocates have suggested there may also be a link between marijuana use and car accidents. The GHSA report found that in the seven states and the District of Columbia which have legalized recreational marijuana, pedestrian deaths increased by 16 percent in 2017. In all other states, pedestrian deaths decreased by six percent.

Contact Our Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian in a traffic accident, you have may be able to pursue compensation that will address your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. The San Diego personal injury attorneys at Martinez & Schill, LLP can help you understand your rights and walk you through the process of filing a personal injury claim. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 619-512-5995.