Fatal pedestrian accidents are on the rise in California and the United States in general. Tragically, there was a 65% increase in fatal pedestrian accidents from 2011 to 2021, with 7,485 pedestrians killed in the US in 2021 alone. Additionally, the national pedestrian fatality rate increased by a shocking 11.5% from 2020 to 2021.
California is by far the most populated state in America, so it’s no surprise that we have the most pedestrian fatalities. We’ve seen a steady increase in these accidents over the last decade, and there’s been a notable spike in pedestrian deaths in the last three years.
If you’ve lost a family member in a pedestrian accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the negligent driver to hold them accountable and recover financial compensation. Of course, no amount of money can make you whole again after losing a loved one, but these damages can help you and your family financially as you grieve.
California Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, there was nearly a 10% increase in California pedestrian fatalities from 2019 to 2022. There were 504 pedestrians killed in our state in 2022, increasing our fatality rate to 1.29 deaths per 100,000 people. This fatality rate is alarmingly higher than the national rate of 1.04 per 100,000 people. These accidents are so common that pedestrian victims account for over a quarter of California’s total traffic fatalities.
Although fatal pedestrian accidents can happen anywhere, they’re far more common in highly populated areas. Los Angeles—which has a population of almost 4 million—had the most pedestrian deaths from 2011 to 2020 and is the second deadliest city for pedestrians after New York City. Other cities with notably high numbers of pedestrian fatalities include San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento.
Many speculate that the reason the number of pedestrian deaths is steadily increasing is due to the sudden rise in truck purchases. According to The Hill, trucks made up almost 80% of vehicle sales in 2021, and these vehicles now outnumber cars in California and every other state.
Of course, pedestrians can be killed by cars as well, but trucks are far larger and heavier than cars, making them even more deadly for pedestrians.
When Are Pedestrian Accidents the Most Common?
Pedestrian accidents can occur at any time of day, but most pedestrian fatalities occur at night. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that fatal pedestrian accidents are the most common between 6 PM and midnight and that 72% of pedestrian fatalities happen at night.
The night hours are far more dangerous for pedestrians because of drivers’ limited visibility. Many of these fatal accidents happen due to the gross negligence of irresponsible drivers. Almost a quarter of fatal pedestrian accidents are hit-and-runs, meaning that criminal drivers fled rather than helping victims. Leaving the scene of a fatal pedestrian accident is a felony in California and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
In addition to the issue of visibility, one substantial reason fatal pedestrian accidents are more common at night is due to drivers operating their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. It’s far more common for motorists to drink in the evening, and many who drink in public drive home with a blood alcohol level over the legal concentration limit of .08%.
When individuals consume alcohol, it affects their cognitive and motor skills, making them more prone to making poor decisions. Consuming alcohol can cause a driver to misjudge the speed and distance of pedestrians, increasing the risk of fatal pedestrian accidents. Moreover, alcohol slows a driver’s reflexes, potentially delaying their reaction time when a pedestrian enters a roadway or crosswalk.
Another major contributor to fatal pedestrian accidents is distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted drivers were responsible for 3,100 deaths and 424,000 injuries in 2019 alone, which included pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. Like drunk driving, driving while distracted is far more common in the evening, creating another serious hazard for pedestrians.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim For a Fatal Pedestrian Accident?
If you lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, you may wonder how you can hold the responsible driver accountable. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the driver could be held criminally liable by the police. Aside from the criminal charges the driver may face, you can file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit to hold them financially responsible.
Unfortunately, not everyone can recover wrongful death damages. Those who can file include:
- The victim’s spouse or domestic partner
- The victim’s children and step-children
- The victim’s parents
- The victim’s minor dependents
Seeking Damages After a Fatal Pedestrian Accident
To recover damages from a driver, you need to be able to prove their negligence. Although motorists are often at fault for pedestrian fatalities, pedestrians can also be at fault. For example, if a pedestrian was drunk and suddenly entered a roadway illegally, the driver who hit them may not be considered liable.
When seeking wrongful death damages, you need to supply as much evidence as possible proving that the negligent driver was directly responsible for your loved one’s death, including:
- Photographic and video evidence
- Eyewitness statements
- A police accident report
- Toxicology reports indicating the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- An accident reconstruction expert
- Medical expert witness testimony
- Cell phone records indicating the driver was distracted at the time of the crash
If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, the most important thing you need to do is contact a wrongful death attorney, as a skilled legal team will substantially increase your likelihood of recovering damages.
Contact a California Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you were injured or lost a loved one because of a driver’s negligence, you need to contact a California pedestrian accident attorney. Here at Sally Morin, we help residents in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and other cities recover the compensation they deserve from negligent drivers, and we can help you recover personal injury or wrongful death damages.
You can take action right now by scheduling a free case evaluation with our team online or by calling 877-380-8852.