Unfortunately, the dangers of a pedestrian being killed or seriously injured in a pedestrian collision are increasing in California as more people walk for exercise, fun, or to get to work, school, or other places. The likelihood of a fatality or catastrophic injury is especially great when children are the victims because their tiny bodies have so little protection from a much larger motor vehicle.
If a family member was killed in a pedestrian accident in Southern California, you need to retain an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer who will pursue a wrongful death action against the negligent driver who caused their death.
Common Causes of Fatal Pedestrian Collisions
Many pedestrian accidents occur at intersections, stop signs, school bus stops, urban areas, and at night when pedestrians are less visible. While in some cases the pedestrian is partially at fault, in most cases, these tragic collisions are caused by negligent drivers. Common reasons drivers cause fatal crashes with pedestrians include:
- Speeding. The danger of a pedestrian being killed increases when a motorist is speeding because the force of impact is greater than if the vehicle travels at a slower speed.
- Distracted driving. Texting, talking on a cell phone, and searching the internet are especially dangerous types of distracted driving that result in fatal pedestrian accidents. Eating and drinking, personal grooming, and fiddling with instrument controls are other distractions that take drivers’ minds and eyes off the road.
- Intoxication. Drivers intoxicated due to drugs or alcohol are much more likely to engage in reckless driving behaviors, such as driving at excessive speeds and failing to yield. In addition, reaction time, judgment, and vision are impaired, increasing the risk to nearby pedestrians.
- Failing to yield. Many deadly collisions occur when a driver fails to yield to a pedestrian at an intersection or stop sign where the walker has the right of way.
- Backing up. Drivers can cause a fatal collision in a driveway or parking lot if they do not look for pedestrians before backing up. Unfortunately, the victims of these accidents are often children.
Wrongful Death Actions in Fatal Pedestrian Accidents
If a negligent driver caused a loved one’s death in a pedestrian accident, you might be able to file a wrongful death action in California. To protect your rights, you should retain a skilled San Diego injury attorney immediately after the accident. They will collect the evidence you need, help you avoid costly mistakes that could hurt your claim, and fight so that you obtain all the compensation you deserve from the insurance company.
Only certain family members can file a wrongful death action under California law. They include the following:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner
- Surviving parents
- Surviving children and step-children
- Surviving siblings
- Surviving dependents
Types of Compensation Awarded in Wrongful Death Actions
The types of compensation a surviving family member can recover in a fatal pedestrian crash are different than if the victim had survived and was pursuing their own claim. These damages include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost income the victim would have earned during their lifetime
- Loss of the loved one’s companionship, emotional support, affection, and guidance
- Loss of household services and contributions that the deceased provided
Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Pedestrian Accident Cases
The statute of limitations is the deadline you have to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. This time period is different than if the victim had survived the collision. Under California law, you would have two years from the date of your family member’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you failed to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you would not have a right to litigate your claim. The judge would most likely dismiss your lawsuit, and the insurance company would have little or no incentive to offer you a settlement of your claim.