Motor vehicles aren't the only dangers pedestrians face. They can also suffer serious injuries in knockdown accidents caused by bicycle riders, joggers, dogs, and other walkers. Fortunately, as our San Diego pedestrian accident attorney explains, under California law, victims can recover compensation for their injuries from the negligent party who knocked them down.
Pedestrian Accidents Caused by Cars
Drivers who strike pedestrians in a crosswalk, at an intersection, or in a parking lot can cause catastrophic injuries because of the size and weight of their cars. These accidents are often caused by the motorist’s negligent actions. In some cases, the driver also violated a basic California traffic law, such as:
- Failing to yield. Many pedestrians are struck when drivers fail to yield the right of way to them in crosswalks and at intersections.
- Speeding. Even if a driver tries to stop to avoid a pedestrian, this may be impossible if they're speeding—the average vehicle traveling at 40 mph needs at least 80 ft. safe distance to stop.
- Not yielding to a school bus. All motorists are required to stop for school buses picking up or dropping off children.
- Engaging in distracted driving. Texting while driving is specifically prohibited under California law. A driver who is texting, talking on a cellphone, or otherwise distracted might not see a pedestrian who has the right of way before it's too late.
- Driving while impaired. Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense in our state. This behavior severely compromises an individual's judgment, reaction time, and vision.
Other Common Ways Pedestrian Knockdown Accidents Happen
People also face other dangers of being injured in a pedestrian knockdown incident when walking along roads, in crosswalks, and on sidewalks in the San Diego area.
As a result, they may be saddled with long-term medical conditions such as serious fractures, traumatic brain injury, and back and spinal injuries.
Reasons for knockdown accidents include:
- Joggers. People who run on sidewalks, exercise paths, or the side of the road have a duty to share these areas with other people. When they breach this duty and crash into a walker, they can be responsible for compensation in the event of injuries, which are likely due to the force of the impact.
- Distracted walkers. Pedestrians often become dangerously distracted if they're listening to music, talking on a cellphone, texting, or talking to companions and don't pay attention to others around them.
- Bicyclists. Like drivers, bicycle riders have a duty to obey California traffic laws, yield to pedestrians, and responsibly share exercise paths and sidewalks with them. In some municipalities, bicyclists may be in violation of local ordinances if they bike on sidewalks. If their violation or negligence caused a pedestrian’s injuries, they could face liability for compensation.
- Dogs. A pedestrian can suffer serious injuries if they're knocked down by a dog that's not under the control of an owner or is unleashed. Under California’s dog bite laws, an owner would be responsible for any related injuries—whether or not the dog ever bit someone before—and for any other injuries, the victim suffered as a result of the owner’s negligence in failing to control his dog.
- Open doors. People exiting a motor vehicle along the side of the road or in a parking lot must check for nearby pedestrians before suddenly opening their doors. Referred to as "dooring," this action causes anyone in the way to be hurt.
Special Rules That Must Be Followed When the Victim Is a Child
If the victim of a pedestrian knockdown accident is a minor under 18, special rules must be followed in California when settling a claim against the negligent party who caused the injuries. The child's parents can seek compensation on their behalf, but they must obtain court approval of the settlement. This is true whether they settle the case with or without litigation.