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What Happens if You Hit a Pedestrian with Your Car?

car emergency brake saved a life pesdestrian runs across street.

If you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian, you need to take appropriate steps to mitigate the situation.  Call the authorities or emergency responders when necessary, and assess the situation.  Accidents involving pedestrians can be different than accidents involving other motor vehicles, and it is important to know what you may face after such an incident.  Learn about pedestrian accidents below, and contact a seasoned Pasadena pedestrian accident lawyer with additional questions or for help after a southern California traffic accident.

Personal Injury Liability

If you hit a pedestrian with your car and you are at fault (for example, by failing to yield the right-of-way), you are likely to owe the pedestrian compensation for their damages.  You may be responsible for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.  Your car insurance will hopefully cover much of these bills, but if the damage exceeds your policy limits, you may wind up being personally liable.

Fines and Criminal Charges

If you hit a pedestrian while driving recklessly, you may face fines and even criminal charges in California.  The amount of your fine and the criminal charges will depend upon the circumstances, including the relative fault between you and the pedestrian, your level of recklessness (e.g., not knowing the traffic laws or driving under the influence of alcohol), and the extent of the pedestrian’s injuries.  If the pedestrian dies, you may face a charge of vehicular manslaughter.  If you flee the scene, you may face misdemeanor charges for a hit and run.  However, if you hit a pedestrian simply by accident and then stop and report the incident to the appropriate authorities, you will likely be exempt from criminal charges.

Jaywalkers and comparative fault

Pedestrians are not automatically awarded victory in every accident.  As with any other personal injury matter, prevailing depends on the question of fault.  If the pedestrian was truly the cause of the accident, then they cannot collect damages against the driver for their injuries.  Moreover, if a pedestrian’s actions cause a driver to swerve and therefore suffer property damage and injury, the driver may be able to collect against the pedestrian.

Jaywalking is illegal in California, and being caught can subject a pedestrian to a hefty fine.  Jaywalking is illegal because it is dangerous – crossing a busy intersection during the “don’t walk” signal can lead to serious traffic collisions.  If a pedestrian was jaywalking or otherwise extremely reckless, then they are not entitled to recover simply because they were on foot while the other party was in a car.

What if the case is not so clear-cut?  California is a contributory negligence state.  This means that if multiple parties are each partially at fault, then a party may still sue for a portion of their damages.  For example, if a pedestrian was crossing the street but not in a crosswalk, a driver was texting on their phone, and they collide, then there is fault on both sides.  The pedestrian may be able to sue the driver, but their percentage of fault will reduce their total award. For instance, if the driver was 60 percent at fault and the pedestrian was 40 percent to blame, and the pedestrian’s total damages were $10,000, then the pedestrian would collect $6,000.

Call Pasadena Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Andrew Ritholz

If you’ve been involved in a traffic collision with or as a pedestrian in California, consult with an attorney who understands your rights and can protect your interests passionately and effectively. Contact Pasadena pedestrian accident lawyer Andrew Ritholz for a free case evaluation at 626-844-7102.

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