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Pedestrian Accidents and California Vehicle Code Section 21950

What rights does a pedestrian have when crossing the street? What responsibilities? The main thing to remember is that regardless of your legal rights or obligations, if you are hit by a car, you will be hurt. Your "legal rights" will not make you feel much better. So remain vigilant.

That said, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities if you are a pedestrian and have been struck by a car. Per California Vehicle Code §21950,

"The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter."

This means that a car is obligated to yield the right of way to a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk. That does not mean that you can "jump out" in front of an approaching car. Not only would this get you injured, you might be precluded from recovering for your personal injuries.

The requirement that a driver does not "relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety." Further, "no pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard." In other words, do not jump out in front of a car.

The scenario I see most often is that a driver inches out of a parking lot or cross street, looks to the left for oncoming traffic and then pulls forward - totally ignorant of the bicylcist or pedestrian approaching from the driver's right. The driver sees it's clear, hits the gas and - also hits the pedestrian or bicyclist. Insurance companies fight these claims with one argument the repeat often - the pedestrian "jumped out." This is usually not the case, and it is worth talking to an Oakland personal injury lawyer if you have been hurt.

Pete Clancy is an Oakland personal injury lawyer specializing in helping people injured because of other parties' negligence. He can be reached at 925-835-7500.