An estimated 270 pedestrians are killed on the roads of Los Angeles every year, while California is considered one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. One of the factors contributing to the high number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in car accidents in Los Angeles and all across California is lack of understanding about the right of way.
Today, we invited our Los Angeles car accident attorney from the Compass Law Group, LLP to explain when pedestrians have the right of way in California and when they do not.
Pedestrians have the right of way at intersections and crosswalks
California Vehicle Code is not ambiguous about when pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers have the right of way. According to California law, car drivers are legally required to yield to all pedestrians crossing the street within any marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
In other words, pedestrians have the right of way at intersections, while motor vehicle drivers must exercise extra caution when approaching intersections and anticipate pedestrians crossing the street when at an intersection or crosswalk. Failure to yield to a pedestrian at an intersection or crosswalk can result in injuries or fatalities, making the driver at fault and liable for the car accident.
When pedestrians do NOT have the right of way
“But in no way does it mean that pedestrians have a right to cross the street whenever and wherever they want without exercising caution on their part,” says our experienced car accident lawyer in Los Angeles. Under California law, pedestrians are prohibited from suddenly leaving a curb or other place of safety and becoming an immediate hazard on the road.
What it means is that pedestrians are prohibited from crossing or walking in the street or road unlawfully or when it is not allowed. Pedestrians have the right of way only when they use dedicated spaces to cross the street. By jaywalking or crossing the street unlawfully, pedestrians put themselves and others at risk of catastrophic consequences.
Our best car accident attorneys in California also point out that pedestrians must exercise caution and ensure that the driver’s visibility is not compromised when crossing the street. In situations when there is a constant flow of traffic or a car is moving too quickly, crossing the street would create an immediate hazard and may lead to a car accident.
When car drivers have the right of way in California
Motor vehicle drivers in California do not have a legal duty to yield to pedestrians when the latter are crossing the street at a place other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk or intersection. In these situations, pedestrians must yield to all cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the road. In other words, unless a pedestrian is within any marked or unmarked crosswalk or intersection, he or she must yield the right of way to motor vehicles at all times.
People in Los Angeles and all across California tend to forget that both pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers are equally required to know applicable traffic laws. By not knowing the right of way, you may be held responsible for your negligent actions if you breach your duty of care on the road and that breach causes injuries or fatalities to other people. Knowing who has the right of way is one of the most important traffic rules that could save your life and the lives of others.
How do you recover damages after a car accident if the other party failed to yield to you in a situation when you clearly had the right of way? You may be entitled to sue the other party for negligence and recover compensation for your losses, injuries, and damages. Speak to a Los Angeles car accident attorney to find out your best legal options.