A pedestrian hit by a car usually suffers from catastrophic injuries such as broken bones and damage to the brain and spine.  With many drivers distracted by cell phones and in-car technology, simply crossing the street can be very dangerous.  California law protects pedestrians both inside and outside of crosswalks.

Pedestrian Safety Laws

Crosswalks and Right-of-Way

The law provides that pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk.  This means the driver of a motor vehicle must slow down, yield and stop for pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk.  Drivers must be careful when approaching a crosswalk and watch out for pedestrians.  Pedestrians also must be careful not to step in front of an oncoming vehicle if the vehicle is dangerously close to the crosswalk.

Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks

A crosswalk can be either marked or unmarked.  The law treats marked and unmarked crosswalks the same.  A marked crosswalk can be painted in either yellow or white.  An unmarked crosswalk is the extension of the sidewalk or shoulder across the intersection of two roads, at an approximately right angle (see California Vehicle Code Section 275).

Crossing the Road outside of Crosswalks

Pedestrians crossing the road outside of a crosswalk must yield the right of way to motor vehicles.  This means pedestrians must be careful not to impede or interrupt traffic when crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.  However, drivers must still use care for the safety of pedestrians even if pedestrians are crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.

Common Causes of Auto versus Pedestrian Accidents

Even a momentary lapse in judgment can lead to death or serious injury when operating a motor vehicle.  Common causes of auto versus pedestrian collisions include:

  • Distracted driving (cell phones and other devices, in-car technology)
  • Speeding
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to obey traffic laws

How Do I Know If I Have a Legitimate Claim?

If you were hit by a car, there are three legal criteria which must be met in order to recover for your injuries: damages, liability and collectability.


Liability means that you were injured as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing.  Proving liability does not require you to prove that the person intended to harm you.  Proving negligence (conduct which was unsafe or unreasonable under the circumstances) is sufficient to prove liability.


Damages are a calculation of how the accident has impacted your life.  You may be able to recover for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment and other damages. If someone has died, family members of the deceased may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.


You must be able to identify the party(s) responsible for the harm in order to collect from them or their insurance policy.  Depending on the circumstances of your case, it is likely that an insurance company will be involved.  Insurance companies are profit driven and will fight tooth and nail to settle your claim for as little money as possible.  They will have their doctors and lawyers go to court, blame the accident on you and claim that your injuries did not occur.  The insurance company’s goal is not to offer you a fair settlement.  It’s to settle your claim as quickly as possible, for as little money as possible.

What to Do If Hit by a Car

If you or someone you love was hit by a car, you should call 911 to have all injuries treated and have a police report made.  Obtain a copy of the police report and maintain complete records of all treatment received.  Contact a proven personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following the incident (before you contact an insurance company) in order to best preserve your legal rights. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Yes.  Insurance companies offer more money to people represented by experienced personal injury lawyers than they do to people with inexperienced lawyers or no lawyer at all.  From our experience, you will need a proven lawyer to receive anything close to the full value of your claim.  If you have already contacted an insurance company, it is not too late to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today.


James S. Iagmin Practice Areas – Brain Injury:

James S. Iagmin Practice Areas – Spinal Cord Injuries:

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code Sections 21949 to 21971 (Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties):

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code Section 21950:

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code Section 21950:

California Department of Transportation – 2014 California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Section 7C.02 Crosswalk Markings:

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code Section 275:

California Legislative Information – California Vehicle Code Section 21954:

James S. Iagmin Practice Areas – Wrongful Death: