Pedestrians do not have anything to protect them when they are struck by vehicles and instead absorb the physical forces released in a collision with their bodies. Because of this, they are much more likely to suffer serious injuries or to be killed in pedestrian accidents involving motor vehicles. To try to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents and resulting injuries and deaths, California enacted jaywalking laws to encourage pedestrians to cross at intersections and in crosswalks. However, the legislature recently passed a bill that was signed into law that changed how the state handles jaywalking. Here’s what you need to know about the new jaywalking law and its likely impact on pedestrian accident claims.
Factual and procedural background of the case
Charles Huckey was helping a real estate agent named Valentina N. who had an open house in the area of Rancho California Road and Meadows Parkway in Temecula on Dec. 12, 2015, somewhere between the times of 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Huckey picked up some of Valentina’s signs, which he was carrying underneath his arms as he walked on the sidewalk close to the northeast corner of the intersection when he tripped over a raised area and fell, striking his head, hands, and arms. Huckey filed a lawsuit against the city of Temecula, alleging that the city had negligently failed to repair a dangerous condition that caused his injury. The city filed a motion for summary judgment and asked the court to dismiss Huckey’s lawsuit.
California employers are liable for the negligent actions of their employees when the workers are working within the course and scope of their jobs. When a worker negligently injures another person while working, both the worker and his or her company may be liable to pay damages. In Hernan Osorio v. Wesley T. Williams, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC597023, a jury decided a case in which the course and scope of employment and soft tissue injuries were at issue.
Factual background of the case
Los Angeles is still one of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians. In Los Angeles, pedestrian accidents have continued to rise over the past decade. When a pedestrian is struck by a car or other motor vehicle, he or she is much likelier to suffer serious injuries or to be killed. More people are choosing to walk to work or school. At the same time, there are more vehicles that are traveling on the roads, driving up the number of these types of accidents. If you have been seriously injured while you were walking, or your family member has been killed, it is important for you to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.
Accidents involving pedestrians in L.A.
On March 6, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. the defendant, Jon Bullard, was headed home after finishing his shift at the restaurant that he managed. He was the manager of the Newport Landing Restaurant and Oyster Bar, which was owned by Waterfront Enterprises. When he reached the intersection of Thalia Drive and the Pacific Coast Highway, Bullard pulled into the middle of the intersection in order to make a left turn. While he waited for the traffic heading in the opposite direction to clear, the traffic light turned yellow and then red. He proceeded with his left turn and struck some pedestrians who were crossing the street in the crosswalk. Bullard pulled over and called 911. Both of the pedestrians had been knocked down by his truck. The plaintiffs had to go to the hospital by ambulance for treatment.
The City of Los Angeles is installing 15 new pedestrian signals in the downtown area to reduce the risk of accidents while people cross the street. The signals belong to a new class of traffic-safety devices called headstart signals or leading pedestrian intervals, which are especially helpful in protecting pedestrians from vehicles attempting to make right-hand turns. The headstart signals allow people to begin crossing the street at intersections a full four seconds before motor vehicles receive a green light.
L.A. Councilman Champions Pedestrian Safety
Problems have emerged in the urban centers of many cities because of the number of pedestrians being injured or killed in accidents involving cars and trucks. However, Los Angeles is one of the first to make a major commitment to prevent and reduce pedestrian accidents with new technology, such as leading pedestrian intervals. Much of this effort has come from one member of the Los Angeles City Council: Jose Huizar.
While taking a bus to school is safer than walking or riding in a car, school bus stops also pose their own dangers. According to the Transportation Research Board, an average of 20 children die each year from school buses, with five fatalities occurring inside of the bus, five happening when children are struck by other vehicles and 10 occurring when children are struck by the bus itself. Another 6,000 are injured.
Causes of Accidents
Some accidents happen because drivers ignore school bus stop-arms, driving around the bus and striking children. Others happen when a bus driver fails to see a child and strikes them. Some happen when a child is getting on or off of the bus. Finally, some accidents happen because of poorly chosen bus stop locations. Poor locations may include those that are along roads with higher traffic speeds, next to roads with multiple lanes, near railroad tracks or in areas with poor visibility for both other drivers and children. A recent case in El Dorado County demonstrates the potential dangers of school bus stops for children.
With beautiful weather and scenic views, California attracts walkers and cyclists alike. In addition, people flock to the outdoors to combat health risks, such as stress, obesity and heart disease, and improve their overall health. However, the downside involves an unforeseen safety risk for these health-conscious people: More than ever, walkers and cyclists are likely to be hit by a vehicle.
Statistics Show the Increase in Crashes for Walkers and Riders
The Government Accountability Office released data that showed that pedestrian fatalities increased by 3 percent – from 11 percent to 14 percent – between 2004 and 2013. During the same time frame, the numbers increased from 1.7 percent to 2.2 percent for cyclists. However, overall traffic deaths dropped by about 25 percent – from 43,000 to 33,000 – during that period.
Orange County, CA has experienced a surge in bicycle and pedestrian accidents resulting in injury or death in the past few years. Pedestrian and bicycle incidents are occurring more frequently as each day passes. In fact, by some estimates, a pedestrian is struck and killed in the O.C. every six days and the numbers have gone up so much in Orange County CA over the past few years that county administrators decided to invest in pedestrian and biker safety. The county no longer wants people to know it for its title of “most dangerous county” for bike riders in the state of California. Instead, it wants people to know it as a county that takes the life of every human being seriously.
The Tragedy of a Pedestrian or Bicycle Incident
Walking and biking accidents are such a tragedy because they mostly occur because of neglect. Neglect occurs when a person or party either acts or fails to act in a way that is in the best interest of another party. All people are supposed to look out for themselves and for other people who share the roads and sidewalks at all times. More often than not, drivers do not yield to walkers. Such drivers may not see the walkers or the bikers because of various distractions. In some cases, outright defiance causes the incidents. Furthermore, rushing causes more occurrences than any other causes. Workers rush to their jobs; students rush to school; anxious persons rush to the stop sign.
In the Los Angeles case of Joesph Butenhoff v. Rae Anne Bautista, the jury demonstrated how just because a police report states that one party is at fault doesn’t mean that the other party won’t still have to pay repercussions for their actions in court. In this particular case the plaintiff was a pedestrian, and the defendant was the operator of a mobile vehicle. The plaintiff was reportedly in the street after dark helping a dog owner and his injured dog when the defendant struck him with her vehicle. The pedestrian suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the accident.
According to the plaintiff, the defendant failed to watch the road, and she had been present in the lane with the injured dog and his owner while other vehicles were passing slowly by the scene in the adjacent lane. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant kept driving in the lane that contained himself, the injured dog and the dog’s owner to pass the other vehicles in the slower moving lane and then struck him when she swerved to avoid hitting the dog.