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Pedestrian Accident Attorney Santa Barbara

Studies show there are many benefits of walking and cycling over driving, including weight management, increased circulation, improved mood, and reduced risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, this can also be dangerous in areas frequented by motorized vehicles. Unlike drivers, pedestrians are not protected by layers of steel and plastic to lessen the injuries incurred during a collision. This increases the likelihood that a pedestrian will suffer severe injuries. 

Due to this vulnerability, some people assume the driver is automatically liable when a pedestrian is injured in a car collision. However, according to California law, both motorists and pedestrians have a duty of care to ensure their own safety and the safety of those around them. While it is the driver’s responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and take all precautions to avoid collisions, it is also the pedestrian’s responsibility to be aware of oncoming traffic and rights-of-way. Sometimes, the pedestrian can be found responsible for causing the accident, and therefore partially liable for injuries or damages.

Can I file a claim if I was injured in a crosswalk?

Pedestrians who are obeying traffic signals have the right-of-way when using a crosswalk. However, they are still responsible for ensuring that it is safe to cross. A pedestrian who dashes into the crosswalk in an attempt to beat the light, or who moves into the crosswalk without checking traffic, may be considered partially liable for causing an accident. Fortunately, even if you are partially responsible for a pedestrian accident in Santa Barbara, you may still be entitled to some compensation. 

California is a comparative fault state, which means that multiple parties can be found partially liable for causing an accident. For example, a motorist hits a pedestrian who entered a crosswalk, and a jury determines that the damages to the pedestrian equal $100,000. The jury decides that the driver is 75% responsible for the collision, but the pedestrian is 25% responsible. Therefore, the pedestrian may only claim $75,000 in damages from the driver. Determining comparative liability can be confusing, so it is best to consult a pedestrian accident attorney if you have been involved in a collision.

What if I was riding a skateboard or roller skating?

California Vehicle Code 467 defines a pedestrian as “any person who is afoot or who is using a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.” This includes skateboards, roller skates, non-motorized scooters, segways, and devices for people with mobility issues. As such, skateboarders and roller skaters have the same duty of care as pedestrians. Additionally, some areas in Santa Barbara prohibit the use of skateboards and roller skates, and it is your duty to be aware of such prohibitions when using these devices. While you may file a personal injury claim even if you were skating in a prohibited area, it is possible that your claim will be restricted due to failure to comply with local regulations.

What if I was hit while riding a scooter?

Individuals who use non-motorized scooters are subject to the same regulations as bicycles. Electric scooters (e-scooters) fall into a gray area, and concerns about the safety of such devices led city officials to decide against allowing e-scooter ride-sharing services in Santa Barbara in February of 2020. If you are struck while operating a scooter, you may file a claim against the driver, but if you were not operating the scooter in compliance with local regulations, you may be unable to claim full damages. Consult a pedestrian accident attorney in Santa Barbara if you are involved in a collision while riding a scooter.

What should I do after a hit-and-run?

If you are struck by a motorist who fails to stop, call 911 for medical assistance immediately, even if you think you are uninjured. Stay calm, and – if possible – move to a safe area. Try and write down any details about the vehicle or driver – the police will need this information to help find them. Speak to any witnesses, and take pictures of the area. File a police report as soon as possible, then contact your insurance company. After filing your insurance claim, you may want to contact a pedestrian accident attorney for a consultation.

If you witness a hit-and-run, call 911 and – if you can do so safely – check on the pedestrian. They may be too injured to move or recall what happened, leaving you and any other witnesses to provide information to the police when they arrive. Do not attempt to move the pedestrian if they are unconscious or cannot move independently. They may have internal injuries which can be worsened by movement. Write down what you saw, and take pictures.

What can I do if my loved one died in a pedestrian accident?

Litigation is generally not the first priority for those who have lost a loved one, especially when the loss is unexpected. However, the process of filing insurance claims for unexpected medical and funeral expenses only adds to the grief and trauma your family is experiencing. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney in Santa Barbara can objectively review the details of your situation to determine if you have a wrongful death claim.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit?

The statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit in California is two years, but personal injury lawyers advise against waiting that long to file a claim. Before a suit can be filed, the insurance company must be notified that payment is due on a claim and given the opportunity to either refute or pay the damages. At Maho Prentice, LLP, we recommend you contact a pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible for a free consultation. We can review your claim, explain the lawsuit process, and help determine the best course of action for you.