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Who Is Liable for Pedestrian Accidents in San Diego?

August 29, 2021 Personal injury

Depending on the circumstances, the driver, the pedestrian, or a third party may be totally or partially liable for a pedestrian accident. In San Diego, fault is determined by each party’s degree of negligence. Here, our San Diego injury attorneys discuss liability after a San Diego pedestrian accident. 

How Liability is Determined in a Pedestrian Accident in San DiegoHow Liability is Determined in a Pedestrian Accident

Determining liability in a pedestrian accident case is often a challenging and complex process. It requires a thorough investigation, including reviewing photos or video of the accident scene, police reports, medical records, hearing from witnesses, and possibly testimony from an accident reconstruction expert. 

One or multiple parties can be found liable, and an insurance adjuster or a jury will assign each one a percentage of fault. Under California’s law of pure comparative negligence, each party involved can recover compensation, but their percentage of fault will reduce their award or settlement. For example, if a pedestrian is awarded $500,000 and the driver is found 100% responsible, the pedestrian will recover $500,000. However, if the driver and pedestrian share responsibility and the driver is found 60% at fault and the pedestrian is 40% to blame for crossing outside of the crosswalk, the pedestrian will only recover 60% of their award, or $300,000. 

Driver Liability

Drivers are most often liable in pedestrian accident cases. They have a duty to others on the road to drive safely and owe an even higher duty of care to pedestrians. Motorists should not speed, drive distracted, or fail to follow the rules of the road, etc. Extreme caution is also expected in school zones and areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. If any negligent action by the driver causes a pedestrian accident, they can be held liable for damages. 

The leading causes of pedestrian accidents when a driver is liable: 

  • Distracted driving (e.g., cell phone use, eating, adjusting the radio, talking to passengers, etc.)
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian
  • Unsafe or illegal turns
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs(DUI)

Pedestrian Liability

Contrary to popular belief, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. Pedestrians are responsible for maintaining a degree of care to protect themselves. It is illegal to jaywalk, ignore walk signals, or dart into traffic. Doing so could be considered contributory negligence in an accident case, making them all or partially at fault. 

The leading causes of pedestrian accidents when a pedestrian is liable: 

  • Ignoring traffic light signals
  • Walking outside of a crosswalk
  • Walking on the road rather than a sidewalk
  • Walking along a highway
  • Jaywalking
  • Intoxication

Third-Party Liability

Third parties may also be liable in a pedestrian accident. For example, if hazardous road conditions contributed to the collision, such as potholes, a design flaw in an intersection, improper signage, or if it was due to defective vehicle parts (e.g., brake or tire failure). 

If a defective vehicle or part causes a pedestrian accident, the manufacturer may be liable. Whereas, if a hazardous road condition causes a crash, a government entity might be responsible for damages.