Car accidents involving pedestrians can result in significant injuries and damages. In order to win a basic negligence claim, an injured party must show that the defendant failed to drive as a reasonable person would under the circumstances and caused damages to the injured party.
Pedestrians and motorists have an equal right to the road, and the law requires that both exercise ordinary care in doing so. Courts have generally stated that the degree of caution required in the exercise of ordinary care depends on the danger that is apparent or should be apparent under the circumstances. Therefore, the measure of ordinary care for a driver is greater than that required for a pedestrian because a car is capable of causing serious or even fatal injuries as a result of the power and speed of a car.
California’s vehicle code states that the right-of-way is the privilege of the immediate use of the highway. Neither a pedestrian nor a motorist has a superior right to use the highway. However, violations of the laws defining the rights and duties of pedestrians and motorists may constitute negligence as a matter of law. For example, the vehicle code contains provisions relating to obeying signs and signals and yielding the right-or-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk. When a party violates these laws, resulting in injuries, they may be found negligent as a matter of law.