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Pedestrian Rights: Understanding Crosswalk Laws and Regulations

Liability in a pedestrian accident is often straightforward—or so it seems. Liability depends on several different factors that differ with every accident. If you were hit by a car, you may be wondering who is responsible for paying your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.

Our pedestrian accident lawyers can help clear things up.

Crosswalk Regulations in California

California’s crosswalk laws break down when pedestrians have the right-of-way and when they don’t.

What Is a Crosswalk?

A pedestrian crosswalk is “part of the road set aside for pedestrians to safely cross the road.” While some crosswalks are marked with white or yellow lines, some are unmarked. Pedestrians have the right-of-way regardless of whether they’re walking on a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk. 

When Pedestrians Have the Right-of-Way

Pedestrians have the right-of-way when they have a “Walk” signal. Some intersections have “diagonal crossing” signs. Pedestrians have the right-of-way to cross through the intersection or at crosswalks at these locations. Pedestrians also have the right-of-way at stop signs.

Pedestrians who are blind or who have visual impairments and are walking with a guide dog or white cane have the right-of-way at all times.

When Pedestrians Do Not Have the Right-of-Way

Pedestrians should not cross the street when a crosswalk signal is showing a raised hand or says “Don’t Walk.” They also should not begin walking across the street if there is a flashing raised hand or “Don’t Walk.”

While pedestrians should not begin walking, that does not mean, however, that drivers do not need to yield right-of-way if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk.

Per the California Driver’s Handbook, drivers must drive cautiously and yield to pedestrians in the road, regardless of whether they are in a crosswalk or not.

Right-of-Way at Intersections With No Signals

Not all intersections have signals. If you are at an intersection with no signals, the California Driver’s Manual breaks down who has the right-of-way.

At a T-intersection without a stop or yield sign: pedestrians on the road that continues going straight have the right-of-way.

Pedestrian Rights After an Accident

If a pedestrian is hit by a negligent driver, they have the right to hold the driver liable for their injuries and other losses.

If you were a pedestrian injured in a car accident, you can recover compensation for:

  • Medical bills, both present and future
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Miscellaneous accident-related costs
  • Pain and suffering

If you lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, you have the right to hold the at-fault driver liable through a wrongful death claim.

What If I Contributed to the Accident?

If you were hit by a car and believe you may have contributed to the accident, you can still recover compensation. It’s important to note that your contribution will lower what you can recover. For example, you were texting when you were hit crossing the street in a crosswalk. The jury may determine that while you had the right-of-way, you could have avoided the accident had you been paying attention. It assigns you 25% responsibility. If your damage award was $500,000, you could recover $375,000.

Pedestrian accidents often lead to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and other losses. This is why it is so important to get every dollar you deserve. Our injury attorneys can fight accusations of fault to ensure you get the compensation you need to cover bills and losses.

Drivers Have a Responsibility to Prevent Accidents

Pedestrians don’t always have the right of way, but drivers must do what they can to avoid an accident. When operating a vehicle, drivers should:

  • Always look out for pedestrians.
  • Pay attention to traffic signals. 
  • Ensure they’re informed on traffic laws. 
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped at an intersection or crosswalk. They may be stopped for a pedestrian.
  • Always allow pedestrians enough time to cross the street safely. Not all pedestrians are able to cross quickly.
  • Always drive slowly through busy areas with a lot of foot traffic.

How Pedestrians Can Avoid an Accident

While pedestrians often have the right-of-way, they also have a responsibility to keep themselves safe and avoid being the victim of an accident. To avoid accidents, pedestrians should:

  • Always cross within a crosswalk. If there are no crosswalks in the area, make sure there are no oncoming vehicles. Even if you think you have time to cross, vehicles are often driving much faster than they appear.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before or when crossing to ensure they’ve seen you.
  • Never cross when you don’t have the right-of-way and there is traffic.
  • Never step into the road in front of a vehicle.
  • Ensure they’re informed on pedestrian laws. 

Our Lawyers Can Help You After a Pedestrian Accident

A pedestrian accident attorney from our firm can help you fight for the compensation you need after an accident. 

Call KJT Law Group for a free consultation today: (818) 507-8525. We handle cases on a contingency-fee basis, which means you pay nothing upfront for our help. You only pay if we win.

We Will Fight For You

Contact our firm to get started.
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