Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Most people have heard the expression that pedestrians have the right of way over motor vehicle drivers. However, that expression is only partly true. Even though pedestrians may have the right of way in many instances, their failure to follow the applicable laws regarding their own safety can be a problem for their cases.
California Vehicle Code, Section 21950 requires the driver of a vehicle to yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk. The driver’s obligation to be careful and follow the safety rules of paying attention where he or she is driving applies even when the pedestrian is crossing in an unmarked crosswalk. An unmarked crosswalk usually occurs at an intersection of two streets.
As with any law, there are exceptions. This law does not relieve the pedestrian from his or her obligation to be careful and not be careless when crossing a street. The most common problem that arising in pedestrian cases is “dart outs” which are cases where a pedestrian suddenly leaves a curb or other safe place and into the path of a car where the driver does not have enough time to react.
“Jaywalking,” which is the practice of crossing the street at a place that is not a crosswalk, doesn’t necessarily mean the pedestrian does not have a legal case. In California, the insurance adjusters, courts, and juries will use a sliding scale in deciding who is at fault for the pedestrian’s injuries.
In pedestrian versus auto cases, just like many cases, it is important to gather as much of the evidence as quickly as possible, following the incident. For this reason, it is always advisable to contact an attorney. Oftentimes, the evidence, such as skid marks, traffic signal timing, construction, or other situations at the collision site may change before a potential client can get into the attorney’s office to discuss the case. Recently, there are a lot of video cameras, both public and private, which capture collisions. These video cameras often re‑record over their footage every so many days or months. It is for that reason it is important to contact an attorney immediately to evaluate what potential evidence may exist and what needs to be garnered for the case to proceed.
Generally, the rules of the road that apply to cars also apply to bicycles. The most common problem with bicycle cases is determining how much, if any, the fault belongs to the bicyclist. Unfortunately, all too often bicyclists do not ride with the flow of traffic when required to do so. Further worsening the situation is that many drivers, when making a right turn, do not look left and right before doing so. The driver’s carelessness is more likely to injure someone biking against the flow of traffic, though that is not always the case.
Just like with pedestrian cases, a quick consultation with an attorney shortly after the incident is important. It is key to gather the necessary evidence and information to refute any position by the insurance company that the bicyclist should be primarily responsible for the collision for riding against traffic.