Pedestrian Accidents

There is hardly anyone in a more vulnerable position than a pedestrian crossing a busy city street full of fast-moving cars, buses or local transit trains in the San Francisco Bay Area. The good news is, recent developments in traffic engineering, including pedestrian islands, curb bulb outs, and other traffic calming measures, leading pedestrian interval traffic signals, and other traffic calming innovations have resulted in some improvements in protecting pedestrians on our public roadways. To a great extent, however, those safety improvements have been offset by an increase in motor vehicle traffic. There’s a particular increase in amateur drivers acting as drivers for hire for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, making our roadways even more dangerous for pedestrians than ever. The Zinn Law Firm has helped dozens of pedestrians who have been injured by cars, buses and trains when crossing the street, including pedestrians injured by Lyft and Uber drivers, as well as private vehicles, and MUNI, AC Transit drivers, or other public transit system drivers.

The Pedestrian’s Broad Legal Rights

Most Californians are in fact not aware of just how broad the pedestrian’s legal rights are on our public streets. For example, did you know that the California Vehicle Code section 275 defines a crosswalk as:

  • That portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks at intersections where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles, except the prolongation of such lines from an alley across a street.
  • Any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

In plain language, that means that a crosswalk does not only include the painted lines between two corners or sidewalks that we are used to seeing. The first paragraph of section 275 goes further, to define crosswalks as any portion of a roadway that lies between two corners of any intersection in the state, whether that roadway section is painted or not!

As most people are aware, Californians have the right of way any time they are in a crosswalk. Vehicle Code section 21950. However, what most of us do not know is that this rule applies whether it is a painted crosswalk, or an unpainted one. That means, if you step into the street and attempt to cross on the roadway between sidewalks that make up the corners of an intersection, so long as you do not unexpectedly jump in front of an approaching car, the approaching vehicle needs to yield right of way to you whether or not there is a crosswalk painted where you are walking.

Typical Fact Patterns in Our Car v. Pedestrian Cases

We have seen pedestrians get hit by cars when crossing the street in a number of contexts. But there are some that are particularly common. Many of the cases we handle involve pedestrians who are walking at night when it is dark. They enter an intersection when they clearly have the right of way. They believe they have made eye contact with cars who may be waiting to turn across the pedestrian’s course of travel. However, it turns out the driver never saw the walker, and runs over our client in the middle of the street regardless. We have handled a number of pedestrian cases in which a pedestrian is crossing at a controlled intersection (intersection with a stop sign or traffic light) on a green, and a car traveling the same or the opposite direction wanting to make a left or right turn runs over the pedestrian in the crosswalk not seeing her there. We have also handled a number of cases involving accidents occurring on uncontrolled intersections or crosswalks when a pedestrian crossing the street thinks an approaching car may slow down, making the pedestrian think the driver sees her, only to find out that the driver was slowing for another reason, and precedes to run over our client, causing serious injury.

The take-away from all of this is to always exercise caution when crossing a busy street and never assume an approaching car sees you until you have conclusive evidence that they have.

Typical Injuries in Car v. Pedestrian Collisions

When a car hits an unprotected human being at roadway speeds, often the injuries to the pedestrian can be devastating. We have represented pedestrians hit by cars who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, broken pelvises, broken legs, shattered knees requiring both MCL and ACL replacements, and sometimes complete knee replacements. One common injury we have encountered in car vs. pedestrian accidents is a fracture of the tibial plateau. This is the part of the tibia, or larger of the two bones in the lower leg, that makes up the knee joint. When the tibial plateau is fractured, even when the fracture heals, the knee joint surface will be rough and uneven, resulting in early onset arthritis and often a need for total knee replacement.

If you have been injured by a car when crossing the street, you need to hire an attorney who knows enough to not only seek a recovery for your present medical condition, but who also knows enough about what complications may arise in the future. It is essential that you obtain fair compensation to pay for medical procedures and physical limitations that may present themselves down the road.

The Zinn Law has experience that matters, and will fight to represent your best interest. If you or someone you know has been hurt by injured by cars, buses and trains when crossing the street, including being injured by Lyft and Uber drivers, as well as private vehicles, and MUNI, AC Transit drivers, or other public transit system driver, please contact us so we can help.