Every day in Fresno and throughout California, pedestrians who are crossing in a crosswalk, jogging down the street, walking through a parking lot and even walking on the sidewalk are stuck by a cars or trucks. Obviously, a pedestrian does not have the luxury of a seat belt, the steel protection of a car, or even the luxury of a motorcycle helmet.
There are several dangerous areas where pedestrians are at higher risk: near the confusion of a construction site, while crossing the street (particularly where there is no crosswalk) while walking alongside a road (and not on a sidewalk).
Some professions, activities, and demographics that are high risk for pedestrian impact injuries include utility workers, landscapers, police officers, garbage collectors, runners, the elderly (because it takes them longer to cross the street, and they are sometimes less able to evade negligent drivers) and children.
Contrary to popular belief, findings contained in a police report is typically not evidence in a Fresno pedestrian accident lawsuit. The report, which may have a police officer’s opinion about whether the pedestrian was at fault for the collision, is usually inadmissible at court. This is a good thing in many pedestrian accident cases.
The police – most police officers anyway – do not account for the deference California Law provides for pedestrians. Most pedestrian accident cases hinge on whether the pedestrian was lawfully where he or she was when struck. This is especially true if the pedestrian was hit while crossing the street – the defense will be that the pedestrian crossed against the signal, or crossed outside of a crosswalk. While traffic cameras are becoming more common, they cannot be counted on as a regular piece of evidence in a Court case.
Statements of any witnesses, particularly witnesses who have no relationship to the pedestrian;
Photographs or video (often from red light cameras, traffic cameras, or security cameras from neighboring businesses);
Skid marks (indication the location of impact);
Location and extent of damage to the involved vehicle;
Location of injuries and injured person following the collision;
Black box data which most new vehicles contain;
Cell phone records showing that the negligent driver was talking on a cell phone or texting at the time of the accident;
Defense lawyers in California pedestrian accidents often contend that the pedestrian was comparatively negligent.
A common defense is to say the pedestrian acted erratically and the driver could not have predicted his actions.
The pedestrian is often accused of being inattentive or distracted. Insurance companies are pulling out all of the stops, and try to convince California juries that the pedestrian was distracted (using a cell phone or media player).
A common defense utilized where injuries are significant is through what are referred to as Human Factors “Experts” hired by insurance companies. They are hired to testify at trial in favor of the defense to say the driver did not have enough time to perceive and react to the injured pedestrian due to a number of reasons. While this a junky kind of science, it is often allowed at trial in California Courts.
The good news is – often, a good investigation can destroy these defenses.