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Pedestrian Crosswalk Accidents: Do I have a Claim Against the City or Municipality?

Pedestrian Crosswalk Accidents: Do I have a Claim Against the City or Municipality?


According to a Los Angeles Times study, a quarter of traffic accidents involving a pedestrian occur at less than 1% of the city’s intersections. Many of the most dangerous crossings, which see a disproportionately high rate of crashes, are clustered in high-density areas between downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood. Pedestrians were involved in 1 in 10 traffic accidents in Los Angeles from 2002 through 2013, but represented more than 35% of road deaths. Many of the fatalities occurred on long, straight streets or near freeways. Laura J. Nelson, “Walking in L.A.: Times Analysis Finds the County’s 817 Most Dangerous Intersections” (July 12, 2015).

The article highlights the dangers of the numerous pedestrian crosswalks, or as I call these “crossovers,” located in the middle of streets or roadways throughout the City. I often refer to these as pedestrian “crossovers” because they are located in the middle of a block, as opposed to crosswalks located at intersections with traffic signals. These crossovers, although not located at an intersection, may be situated to allow pedestrians to cross the street when it would be too unsafe to cross without assistance, such as by jaywalking.

Crossovers are usually marked with white lines, or yellow lines when it is within a school’s vicinity, and may also include flashing lights to warn drivers that pedestrians may be crossing.

Unfortunately, in my practice I have encountered quite a few incidents involving pedestrians being hit by cars while walking within a pedestrian crossover.  These cases are nothing short of tragic as the injuries often caused by such reckless drivers often leave the clients hospitalized for weeks with a long road to recovery.

Considering the devastation caused by such incidents, pedestrian victims are generally not sufficiently compensated by the insurance policy limits of the reckless drivers, or even from their own underinsured/uninsured insurance policy.

However, it is also important to look beyond the legal claims against the driver of the car. Depending on the circumstances, the pedestrian victim may have a claim against the city if the unsafe crossover was a factor in the accident and the city had notice that the crossover was a dangerous condition that created a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to pedestrians’ safety. The city or municipality may properly assert any defenses, including asserting governmental immunity, to prevent itself from being held responsible for the accident. Nevertheless, the city may still be held accountable if it had notice of the dangerous condition of the crossover for a sufficient period of time prior to the incident and the city failed to take measures to protect against the dangerous condition of the crossover.

Common examples include when the city failed to eliminate the dangerous condition that a crossover presents to pedestrians when it had prior reports of similar accidents at the site, complaints about the condition, transportation studies prepared by the city proving the dangerous condition of the crossover, or a request by city council to replace the crossover with an intersection controlled by traffic lights.

In light of the above discussion, it is always important to consult with a competent attorney who can identify whether there may be more than one party responsible for an accident. Should you have any questions, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation so that we can discuss your potential claims.

By:  Eldad M. Younessi, Esq.

[Eldad (aka “Eli”) is a passionate personal injury attorney. Eldad is very emphatic with his clients and relentlessly pursues the best outcomes for their accidents. He is an associate at Saidian & Saidian, PLC and can be reached directly at (213) 222-8564.]

Disclaimer:  Please note that any information provided, and/or other legal information presented, on this post is not intended to be legal advice.  The information on this post is merely for informative use based on my experience in handling auto accidents.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your personal matter.