If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident in Bakersfield, California, know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, Bakersfield is known for its high number of pedestrian accidents and fatalities every year, making it one of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in America.
The effects of a pedestrian accident can be life-changing, causing severe physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial struggles. As a pedestrian accident victim, you require legal assistance to navigate this complex situation and obtain the compensation you deserve for your losses.
This is where The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can help you out. Our expert legal team has a proven track record of successfully handling pedestrian accident cases like yours in Bakersfield. Call us now at 661.327.9661 for a free consultation, and let us work tirelessly for you.
California Pedestrian Laws
In California, there are specific laws that pedestrians and drivers must be aware of when traveling near each other. These laws include:
- Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws – According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC), drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing the road within any marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
- Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws – The same law also states that pedestrians should not suddenly leave curbs or other places of safety and dart in front of oncoming vehicles that are close enough to present immediate hazards.
- Traffic Signal Laws – A separate statute requires pedestrians to obey traffic control signals, including traffic lights and pedestrian crossing signals at intersections. Pedestrians may only cross the road when applicable traffic control signs or devices indicate it is safe to do so.
- Jaywalking Laws – Jaywalking refers to crossing the street at a point other than a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. In California, jaywalking is prohibited by law. Pedestrians must use marked or unmarked crosswalks when available. Even if a person is jaywalking, that does not excuse drivers from using reasonable care to avoid colliding with the pedestrian, so it is always good to check with an attorney if you believe someone else was responsible for a pedestrian accident.
How Many Pedestrians Are Killed in Bakersfield Annually?
According to data from a recent Smart Growth America study called “Dangerous by Design,” Bakersfield, California, is ranked as the second-most dangerous metropolitan area in the nation for pedestrians. The study analyzed data from a recent 10-year period, used it to develop a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), and compared pedestrian safety across different U.S. cities.
- In a single recent year, there were 6,237 people struck and killed by vehicles across the country, an average of more than 17 pedestrian deaths per day.
- In 2022, Bakersfield was ranked 7th most dangerous metropolitan area and the highest in California.
- During the 10-year period the study spanned, Bakersfield alone had 260 pedestrian deaths.
- Bakersfield’s average rate of pedestrian deaths during that time was 2.9 per 100,000 people.
- Pedestrian deaths increased nationally by 45 percent during this recent decade.
The study also revealed that Bakersfield’s pedestrian fatality rate has worsened over time, with the PDI skyrocketing in recent years. Researchers project that Bakersfield could even overtake Orlando, Florida, as the most dangerous metro area for pedestrians by the time of the next study.
The current infrastructure in Bakersfield lacks safe provisions for pedestrians, including sufficient crosswalks and appropriate spacing between them. Wide lanes and slip lanes that allow high-speed turns also contribute to the danger local pedestrians face.
What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in California?
Some of the top causes of pedestrian accidents in California shed light on the behaviors and situations that frequently contribute to these unfortunate incidents.
- Distracted Driving – One leading cause of pedestrian accidents is drivers who are distracted by their phones, navigation systems, or other activities instead of the road.
- Failing to Yield – Drivers who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks or intersections, whether due to negligence or a lack of awareness of pedestrian rights, contribute to a significant number of pedestrian accidents.
- Speeding – Excessive speed increases stopping distance, reduces a driver’s ability to react to pedestrians, makes it harder to avoid collisions, and increases the severity of such collisions.
- Impaired Driving – When drivers are drunk or high, they have impaired judgment, reduced reaction time, and poor coordination, making them more likely to cause accidents.
- Disregarding Traffic Signals – Failure to obey traffic signals, such as by running red lights or stop signs, commonly results in collisions with pedestrians who have the right of way.
- Negligent Backing – Pedestrian accidents can also occur when drivers move their vehicles in reverse without noticing pedestrians behind them, especially in parking lots or residential areas.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Pedestrian Accident in California?
Determining liability in a pedestrian accident requires a careful examination of the circumstances, evidence, and applicable laws. After a pedestrian accident, you should always consult an attorney who can assess the specific details of your case and identify potentially liable parties, which could include:
- Vehicle Drivers – Drivers who operate unsafely by speeding, driving while distracted, or failing to yield to pedestrians, are often liable for resulting pedestrian accidents.
- Vehicle Owners – If an at-fault driver was operating a vehicle someone else owns, the owner could also be liable for the accident in some circumstances.
- Government Entities – In cases where dangerous road conditions or inadequate pedestrian infrastructure contribute to a pedestrian accident, the government entity responsible for local road maintenance could bear some degree of liability.
- Employers – If an at-fault driver was driving a company car or acting within the scope of their job at the time of the accident, their employer could be responsible for the actions of the driver under the legal concept of vicarious liability.
- Manufacturers or Repair Shops – If a defective vehicle component or faulty repair job contributed to the accident, the manufacturer or repair shop could be liable for injuries and related losses resulting from the wreck.
What Compensation Can I Recover After a Bakersfield Pedestrian Accident?
Being involved in a pedestrian accident can lead to significant physical, emotional, and financial hardships. If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident in California, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses. For instance, you could recover money for the following:
- Medical Expenses – You may seek compensation for reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your injuries, including the costs of doctor’s visits, medications, and ongoing care.
- Lost Wages – If your injuries prevent you from working, you could qualify for compensation for the income and benefits you lose out on during your recovery period.
- Pain and Suffering – Compensation could also be available for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish you endure due to the accident and your injuries.
- Disability and Disfigurement – If the accident leaves you with a permanent disability or disfigurement, you could be entitled to compensation for the impact on your quality of life.
A Bakersfield pedestrian accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can explain more about recoverable damages based on your situation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Pedestrian Accident Claim in Bakersfield?
Like most states, California has strict legal time limits in place to file a personal injury lawsuit, including one stemming from a pedestrian accident. Your deadline to sue is two years from the date of the accident in California. That means you have a two-year window to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries. Failing to file within this timeframe could result in losing your right to pursue compensation in court.
However, it’s worth noting that the timeline can be different in certain situations. For instance, you could have more time to sue if you were a minor when the accident occurred or less time if the accident involved a government entity or employee.
These time limits are critical even if you never intend to sue. When a relevant deadline passes, you can bet the insurance company will know you no longer have the option to file a lawsuit, effectively eliminating your negotiating position during settlement talks.
To avoid missing any important deadlines that apply to your claim, you should always consult a pedestrian accident lawyer in Bakersfield as soon as possible. An attorney can provide personalized guidance based on the details of your situation.
Benefits of Hiring The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP, a Bakersfield Pedestrian Accident Law Firm
If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, it can be beneficial to seek legal representation. Hiring a Bakersfield pedestrian accident law firm from The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP will provide you with several advantages, including:
- Independent Investigation and Evidence Gathering – A skilled lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation into your case, gathering evidence like accident reports, witness statements, surveillance footage, and medical records to build a strong case on your behalf.
- Experience Negotiating with Insurance Companies – Dealing with insurance companies can be daunting and overwhelming. A pedestrian accident lawyer can handle all communications with insurance adjusters on your behalf, so you don’t have to stress over every word you say.
- Professional Advocacy and Representation – Our lawyer will be your advocate throughout the legal process. They can represent your interests, negotiate on your behalf, and, if necessary, litigate your case in court. Having a knowledgeable professional by your side can provide peace of mind and relieve stress during an already challenging time.
- Better Access to Resources – Pedestrian accident lawyers have access to valuable resources and relationships with experts, including accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals, and economists, who can provide valuable insights and testimony to support your case.