In California, pedestrian crosswalk injuries are unfortunately common. Injuries at marked and unmarked crosswalks (e.g. implied crosswalks at intersections) accounted for 36% of pedestrian injuries in 2016. Of course, not all crosswalks are equally dangerous. In the city of Los Angeles, for example, statistical analysis of pedestrian crosswalk accidents reveals that roughly 25% of vehicular-pedestrian accidents occur at less than 1% of the city’s intersections. In other words, a subset of crosswalks are inherently dangerous and pose a serious injury risk to crossing pedestrians.
If you have been injured in an accident at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, you may be entitled to recover damages. California Vehicle Code section 21950 gives pedestrians the right-of-way in marked and unmarked crosswalks, and requires that drivers exercise reasonable care and caution when approaching crosswalks. It’s worth noting that the same regulation also requires pedestrians to exercise reasonable care when crossing. For example, a pedestrian who suddenly leaps into a busy intersection will likely find it difficult to recover damages.
Importantly, it’s not just drivers who can be found liable for pedestrian injuries at crosswalks. Those who control the crosswalk (i.e., the city or a private landowner) may be found liable if there was a dangerous condition at the crosswalk that heightened the risk of injury. Whether a crosswalk is dangerous depends on the totality of circumstances. For example, the mere fact that a crosswalk lacks a traffic control device is not proof of its dangerousness. You will have to find other evidence, such as a history of prior accidents at the crosswalk, a lack of visibility, etc., in order to prove that there is a dangerous condition.
So, what evidence can a pedestrian-plaintiff use that will help prove that a crosswalk is in dangerous condition? Consider the following.
No Traffic Control Device
Every crosswalk involves unique circumstances and risks and must be designed to protect the safety of pedestrians accordingly. For example, a crosswalk installed on a road with high-speed traffic may pose a serious risk of injury without a traffic control device, such as a speed-bump or yield sign. However, the lack of a traffic control device is not conclusive proof of dangerousness on its own.
If a defendant controls a sidewalk, they must inspect it regularly and adequately to ensure that it is in good condition and is safe for use. If something problematic is discovered, it must be corrected. For example, suppose that a crosswalk is located near a set of trees. The crosswalk and the trees are both controlled by the City government. The City inspectors of the crosswalk ignore the fact that the tree branches are growing into the street and may interfere with visibility of the sidewalk. Had the crosswalk inspectors noted this issue and reported it, the dangerous condition could have been corrected.
Poor visibility often gives rise to pedestrian crosswalk accidents. Poor visibility can be caused by obstructed sight lines, inadequate lighting of the road/crosswalk and other issues. For example, a crosswalk must be adequately illuminated at night. If the crosswalk is not adequately illuminated, it can be difficult for drivers to yield right-of-way—as they might not notice that a pedestrian is crossing until it is too late.
Prior accidents that occurred at a crosswalk are very useful when litigating a crosswalk injury claim. If there is an extensive pedestrian accident history at the crosswalk, it may stand as circumstantial evidence of the inherent dangerousness of the crosswalk and of the defendant’s failure to correct these dangers.
If you have been injured at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, you may be entitled to recover damages from the driver and, potentially, from the party that controls the dangerous crosswalk itself. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers at (888) 888-9285 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer today.