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Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers
Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers

Pedestrian Hit by Car in Crosswalk? What to Expect

Crosswalks Are Not Pedestrian Havens

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that 42% of all pedestrian accidents occur in roadways without proper crosswalks. However, walking in a marked crosswalk doesn't guarantee your safety. You'd think that brightly painted lines, signage, and flashing lights would keep drivers from hitting people on foot but a significant portion of pedestrians are hit by cars while in crosswalks each year. And, in such cases, the driver is almost always at fault—meaning victims can often seek compensation in a variety of ways.

Indeed, here in California, drivers are legally obligated to yield the roadway to pedestrians in crosswalks that are either marked or unmarked. They are also required to lower their speed while approaching crosswalks and always be alert to pedestrians who may potentially enter the roadway. That means that in the majority of cases where a pedestrian is hit by a car in a crosswalk in this state, the driver is automatically assigned the fault—thus the legal liability.

But, as many victims know, getting fair compensation for their injuries can be a difficult process—even in the "simplest" of cases. However, there are multiple options for injured individuals seeking compensation.  

When the Driver is At Fault

Drivers are at fault in well over 50% of all pedestrian accidents in California. And, drivers are almost always at fault when a pedestrian is hit by a car in a crosswalk. Why? Because California law places a tremendous amount of responsibility (thus liability) on the shoulders of a driver.

Specifically, California traffic laws state that pedestrians have the right of way while crossing in marked or unmarked crosswalks. That means that drivers must yield to people crossing the street—whether there are painted lines and flashing signal or not. (For legal purposes, drivers must almost always assume there is a pedestrian crosswalk at any intersection.)

Insurance Settlements (Driver's Policy)

If a pedestrian is hit by a car while in a crosswalk, the quickest and easiest way for them to seek financial compensation is to negotiate an insurance settlement offered by the at-fault driver's insurance company. However, it may be necessary for victims to engage the services of a qualified personal injury attorney in order to get all the compensation they deserve. Insurance companies won't typically make fair and total offers the first time around.

Getting compensation for all of your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage may dictate serious negotiations and multiple offers.

Health Insurance (Victim's Policy)

If the driver is uninsured (or underinsured) victims may seek compensation from their own insurance policies. However, with payout limitations, such compensation may not always be enough to cover all the expenses incurred after a pedestrian accident.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

In such cases, victims can also file personal injury lawsuits against at-fault parties in a California court of law. By presenting their case to a court, victims may be able to receive awards much larger than any insurance payout they may have been entitled to. However, keep in mind that court cases can drag on for years and don't always end with a successful verdict.

Getting Compensation After Being Hit by a Hit and Run Driver in a Crosswalk

You may think that you cannot get compensation after being struck by a hit and run driver while in a crosswalk. That's not entirely true. If your personal injury attorney or the police investigators are able to eventually track down the driver who hit you, you can either file a claim with that person's insurance company or you may be able to take them to court in a personal injury case.

Keep in mind, that though it may be difficult to actually find at-fault hit and run drivers, many police departments report success in up to 90% of cases.

However, it's common for victims of hit and run drivers to seek compensation from their own health insurance company. Why? Because your insurance company will often payout quickly if the monetary value of your injuries is within your policy's limitations.

Even if you accept an insurance settlement from your own insurance company, you may still be able to seek compensation from at-fault drivers when they're caught. Many times these individuals can be ordered to pay compensation for damages that fall outside the purview of your own health insurance such as:

When the Municipality May Be At Fault

In extremely rare cases the municipality may be legally liable for injuries that occur when a pedestrian is hit by a car in a crosswalk. While cases in which the municipality is at least partially at fault for the pedestrian's injuries represent an exceedingly small percentage of the total number of such cases, it is possible that the city may be required to pay at least some form of compensation.

Typically these types of accidents involving a pedestrian being hit by a car in a crosswalk occur when:

  • ​A crossing signal and/or stop light are malfunctioning, showing both parties they have the right of way at the same time.
  • ​Crosswalks are missing proper signage to warn drivers of pedestrians in the roadway.
  • ​Streets have been poorly designed—such as placing a crosswalk in the middle of a sharp curve.

While it's very rare that the municipality would take the entire fault in cases where a pedestrian was hit by a car in a crosswalk, they may share a portion of the fault. Note that proving this type of case against a governmental municipality will take a lot of money and expertise, so be sure to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer with experience in this area.

California is a comparative negligence state. That means each party involved in an accident is assigned a portion of the negligence (fault). While most often the parties involved are simply the driver and the pedestrian, other parties (such as the municipality) can be brought into the mix if there are extenuating circumstances.

In order to the get a fair settlement, your pedestrian accident lawyer will likely have to present a significant amount of evidence pointing to a municipality dropping the ball. Unlike finding a driver at-fault, proving the liability of a third party can be extremely difficult. And, often the municipality will claim some governmental immunity that can bar your case completely.

What's the Average Settlement for a Pedestrian Hit By a Car in a Crosswalk?

There are no "average settlements" in pedestrian accident cases. Indeed, every case is treated individually just as every victim is an individual. Typically a good personal injury attorney will calculate a fair settlement amount which includes compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

That total award could be several thousand dollars or it could be in the millions. The number really depends on multiple factors including:

  • Who is at fault for the accident—keep in mind California is a comparative negligence state so any party involved could be assigned a portion of the legal liability
  • The level of negligence demonstrated by all parties involved
  • What your final medical expenses are (usually the amount billed/paid, not the actual amount owed)
  • Compensation based on your wages (current and future)
  • Lost Wages

Simple Cases Don't Always Have Simple Solutions

As you can see, even a "cut-and-dry" case involving a pedestrian hit by a car while in a crosswalk aren't often simple to resolve. And cases where you were not in a marked crosswalk are even more challenging. Every case should be treated individually and the victim's losses, needs, and wants should always be placed front and foremost.

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