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Understanding duty of care in pedestrian accidents

Pedestrian accidents are not uncommon in California. In fact, more pedestrian accidents happen in California than in any other state in the country (see our March 8 post). While we know that pedestrians are likely to suffer serious injuries when involved in accidents with motor vehicles, is that in itself enough for a personal injury claim?

The answer to that question depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Specifically, it has to do with each person's duty of care and whether he or she upheld it or neglected it.

What Is Duty Of Care?

Duty of care refers to person's responsibilities while using the road. Both drivers and pedestrians have duties of care. When determining who was at fault in a pedestrian accident, the courts will review whether each person upheld their duty of care. Failing to uphold your duty of care is typically considered negligence.

Pedestrian Duty Of Care

As a pedestrian, you are responsible for taking reasonable actions to protect yourself from any harm you might reasonably anticipate. The biggest duty of care for pedestrians is complying with traffic laws. You must only walk when the signal says it is safe, you must walk within designated crosswalks, and you must avoid running out into traffic.

It is important to note that failing to walk inside a crosswalk or when the signal says "do not walk" does not necessarily eliminate the possibility of seeking compensation through a personal injury claim. It may, however, reduce the amount of compensation you are awarded.

Duty Of Care For Drivers

Similar to pedestrians, drivers must also obey the law as their duty of care. Examples of negligence -- or failing to uphold the duty of care -- include drunk or distracted driving, running a red light or stop sign, failing to signal, and failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Drivers have additional duties of care when it comes to children. When a driver sees a child or is near a school, for example, he or she must take extra precautions to prevent an accident.

Duty of care and negligence are important factors in personal injury claims for pedestrians. We hope this gives you a better understand of the expectations held against both pedestrians and drivers. If you have questions about who was negligent in an accident you were involved in, it may be beneficial to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

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