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By Pejman Javaheri
Founding Partner

Pedestrian right-of-way laws in California cause a great deal of confusion. Some motorists think that cars always have the right of way on streets and that people on foot need to wait until there are no oncoming vehicles before crossing the street. Some pedestrians think that people on foot always have the right of way and that drivers must come to a stop whenever someone decides to step into the roadway.

In Los Angeles pedestrian accidents, who has the right of way? This blog will explore this question, which does not have a simple answer. If you got hurt in a pedestrian accident, a Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney could help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your losses.

When a Pedestrian Has the Right of Way

California’s Vehicle Code Section 21950 says that people driving vehicles must yield the right of way to someone on foot when the pedestrian is crossing the street in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, but there are exceptions. Pedestrians do not have the legal right to step out in front of oncoming traffic and create a hazard.

It is dangerous when a car must suddenly slam on the brakes to avoid hitting someone who stepped into the street in front of a moving vehicle. Another vehicle behind the car might hit the braking car from behind.

When a Vehicle Has the Right of Way

Pedestrians are supposed to yield the right-of-way to moving vehicles that are not in marked or unmarked crosswalks. In other words, when people jaywalk, they are supposed to yield to cars driving through that area of the street.

The Bottom Line About Right of Way Questions

Despite these general right-of-way rules, both pedestrians and drivers must take reasonable measures to avoid accidents. Pedestrians must exercise caution when walking about and not suddenly step into the street without looking for moving vehicles.

Drivers must be vigilant and keep a lookout for any hazards on the road, including pedestrians crossing the street. Motorists have a higher duty to exercise caution when approaching and driving through marked or unmarked crosswalks.

Even when a pedestrian or driver has the right of way, they must try to avoid collisions. It is not a defense that a walker or driver had the right of way if they could have safely avoided the accident.

Recoverable Damages After a Pedestrian Accident

A person who gets hurt in a pedestrian accident can go after monetary damages from the at-fault party. Some of the typical categories of compensation for these injury claims include:

  • Medical bills for the treatment of the wounds.
  • Lost wages for the time when the injured person could not work while recuperating.
  • Future lost wages if ongoing impairments from the accident prevent the individual from earning as much money as before the collision.
  • Pain and suffering for the physical discomfort and emotional distress they endured.
  • Other intangible losses, like chronic depression and anxiety, long-term disability, disfigurement, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Also, if a person dies from a pedestrian accident, the family might be able to seek additional compensation from the at-fault party.

Pedestrian accident cases are complicated because right-of-way issues are confusing. You can talk to a Los Angeles personal injury attorney about your accident case. We offer an initial consultation at no cost to you. Reach out to our office for help.

About the Author
P.J. Javaheri is an experienced personal injury attorney and a founding partner of Mi Abogado. Mr. Javaheri received his Juris Degree from the University of California, Hastings in 2005. Mr. Javaheri is dedicated to serving clients in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. His practice focuses on the area of personal injury law, particularly in representing people who have been injured in car, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents, the practice also specializes in premises liability matters. In recognition of his skills and dedication to his vocation, Javaheri has been named on the California Super Lawyers Rising Stars list in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Mr. Javaheri is also active in the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles.  In 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, Mr. Javaheri was honored with appointments to the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charities (LATLC) Honorary Board of Directors at its highest level; the Diamond Level. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Mr. Javaheri at 310.694.3084 or by emailing