In crowded cities throughout Northern California, like San Francisco, crossing the street wherever there is auto traffic can be dangerous. Pedestrians are the world’s most vulnerable road users, with nothing protecting them from harm if they are struck by a car, truck or even a bicycle. In a collision between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the pedestrian always loses. If a pedestrian survives a collision, he or she will likely have serious injuries, including fractures and dislocations, traumatic brain injury or internal organ damage. Even less serious injuries can leave behind emotional scarring and post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Whenever a person is struck by a car while legally using a city or county street, that person has the same right to seek financial compensation as any motorist injured in a collision. But making a claim and collecting full and fair compensation require skilled and experienced legal counsel.
Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger has obtained substantial results for clients in pedestrian cases. Our San Francisco pedestrian accident lawyers have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of hundreds of joggers, workers, seniors, children and other pedestrians who were struck by motor vehicles.
San Francisco Pedestrian Collision Statistics
The map below plots each pedestrian involved collision in 2016 according to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) database. The different color dots indicate the severity of injury. A green dot represents a complaint of pain. A purple dot indicates a visible injury. An orange dot represents a serious injury and a red dot indicates a fatality. Click on any dot for additional information.
Due to the unique geography of San Francisco and the freeway revolts in the 1950s, it is one of few cities in the U.S. that uses arterial thoroughfares instead of highways. This can make navigating the Bay Area difficult on foot, as the urban roads boast heavy traffic almost around the clock. Pedestrians navigating the roads in San Francisco must contend with hundreds of motorists and bicyclists on the same roads. Despite pedestrian sidewalks and marked crosswalks, at least three pedestrians are struck by vehicles every day in San Francisco. In fact, 60 percent of all San Francisco traffic fatalities are pedestrians – this is about four times the national average. Here are the most recent statistics for the city of San Francisco, from the California Office of Traffic Safety:
- 887 pedestrians killed and injured over the span of one year.
- 50 pedestrians under the age of 15 killed and injured.
- 131 pedestrians aged 65 and older killed and injured.
Thanks to steep hills, poor visibility, and lack of proper crosswalks, San Francisco is one of the more hazardous cities for pedestrians in the state of California. Motorists in a hurry often fail to come to complete stops at stop signs and red lights, or being right turns or drive into the crosswalk area before checking both ways for people crossing. Other drivers operate vehicles while multitasking – checking emails, sending texts, scrolling through social media, eating and drinking, or engaging in personal grooming on their way to work. These dangerous habits can kill or seriously maim unsuspecting pedestrians.
Streets with Heaviest Volume of Pedestrians
If you plan on walking or driving in San Francisco, you can reduce your chances of a pedestrian collision by avoiding the most populated roads in the city. According to an interactive map by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, these are the ten areas with the greatest personal injury risk for pedestrians:
- Sacramento Street and Stockton Street
- Stockton, between Greenwich and Market
- Clay Street and Stockton Street
- Stockton Street and Washington Street
- Clay Street and Grant Avenue
- Waverly Place and Washington Street
- California Street and Powell Street
- Clay Street and Waverly Place
- Joice Street and Clay Street
- Clay Street and Spofford Street
Unusual geography, high traffic volume, congestion and high numbers of pedestrians on these streets contribute to the number of accidents. When walking on these streets or any other roadway in San Francisco, always obey pedestrian road rules. While you cannot control how motorists drive, you can walk defensively to reduce your odds of being involved in an accident.
About Pedestrian Collisions and Types of Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in car crashes on each trip they take compared to passenger vehicle occupants. In 2015, 5,367 pedestrians died in traffic collisions in the United States. The pedestrians most at risk are older adults and children. If pedestrians do not pass away in an accident, injuries tend to be severe if not catastrophic. These injuries create great physical, financial and emotional hardships for victims and families. The most common injuries pedestrians sustain in collisions with motor vehicles are as follows:
- Lower extremity injuries. Motor vehicles often strike pedestrians at the hips, legs, and knees. Injuries can involve broken bones, contusions, and ligament/muscle damage. Pelvic injuries may also occur.
- Head injuries. The head impacting a vehicle or the roadway can lead to blunt force trauma to the skull, resulting in bone fractures and/or traumatic brain injury form axonal shearing. Concussions are the most common type of head injury, and can cause temporary or permanent symptoms.
- Upper extremity injuries. When pedestrians try to protect themselves, they often sustain injuries to their arms and shoulders, including fractures and dislocations. Thorax injuries are also common, and often very serious or fatal.
- Internal injuries. If a vehicle runs over a pedestrian, there is a very high risk of serious internal damage and death. Victims may suffer flail chest or lung collapse, as well as severe internal organ damage. Crush injuries can lead to amputations or wrongful death.
Careless or negligent vehicle operators are the primary cause in pedestrian collisions. Drunk driving plays a significant role as well. Based on research by the CDC, almost half (48%) of all fatal pedestrian collisions involved an alcohol-impaired party. About 15% involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or greater, past the legal limit in the state of California. Intoxication, distraction, and disobeying roadway rules all put vulnerable pedestrians at risk.
We know that pedestrian accidents are not always what they appear and that police do not always get it right in their reports. We conduct our own thorough investigation, which often reveals that the driver was the negligent party – speeding or driving aggressively, blowing through a stop sign or red light, turning without looking, distracted by a cellphone or impaired by alcohol.
How Vulnerable are Pedestrians in Collisions with Motor Vehicles?
Road safety laws classify pedestrians as VRUs, or vulnerable road users. This means they are the most at risk in traffic, and have no outside shield protecting them in crashes. Pedestrians are always the weaker party in a roadway crash, with no external protective devices to absorb kinetic energy in a collision. This means the body itself absorbs the impact, resulting in an increased risk of severe injury. Pedestrians are San Francisco’s most vulnerable road users, and require all motorists to pay special attention to their safety while operating other vehicles.
Pedestrian Laws in California
Obeying pedestrian laws will not only keep you safer on San Francisco’s streets – it will also increase your chances of prevailing in any insurance claim or lawsuit filed to obtain compensation in the event of a collision. California is a comparative negligence state, meaning the courts will reduce a party’s compensation award by an amount equivalent to the percentage of the party’s fault. For example, if you were 25% at fault for your incident because you were jaywalking, you would receive only 75% of your compensation amount. Review these frequently asked pedestrian questions to learn your rights and responsibilities while walking around in San Francisco:
- Do pedestrians always have the right of way? According to Chapter 5 of the California Vehicle Code, vehicle operators must yield the right of way to all pedestrians crossing the road within any marked crosswalk, or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. However, no pedestrian may leave a curb or other location and walk into the path of a vehicle at a range that is too close for the vehicle to stop. In this case, the vehicle has the right of way.
- What is the crosswalk law in California? Pedestrians may only proceed across a marked crosswalk (or intersection) with the green light to do so. At marked crosswalks with signals, this takes the form of the “Walk” sign. If a vehicle is legally in the intersection at the time of the walk signal, the pedestrian must yield right of way to the vehicle. Pedestrians cannot unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a crosswalk.
- What is an unmarked crosswalk in California? An unmarked crosswalk typically exists at any intersection of two roads, where no marked crosswalk exists. At an unmarked crosswalk, pedestrians and drivers must both exercise care not to cause a collision. Drivers must yield right of way when appropriate, and pedestrians cannot step out in front of moving vehicles. Crossing an unmarked crosswalk within the law does not constitute jaywalking.
- Is it jaywalking if there is no crosswalk? If the pedestrian crosses in a place where there is no intersection or marked crosswalk, it is the pedestrian’s responsibility to yield the right of way to vehicles on the roadway. California law states that pedestrians must “exercise due care” for his or her safety. If a pedestrian crosses a roadway unlawfully, without regard for approaching vehicles, it is jaywalking. A pedestrian may not be eligible to receive compensation if he or she was jaywalking at the time of the accident.
There are many situations where the right of way is unclear. After any type of pedestrian crash, seek help from an attorney to sort through the complex San Francisco pedestrian laws. In pedestrian collision cases, the defense always tries to blame the victim, claiming that he or she was jaywalking, crossing against the light, texting while walking, intoxicated or otherwise at fault. However, drivers have a high duty to be vigilant for pedestrians and yield the right of way, particularly near school zones, downtown, bus stops, parks, residential neighborhoods and other areas with lots of people on foot. We have represented pedestrians in virtually every scenario, including people struck by taxis, Uber and Lyft vehicles, public and private transit buses and trains. It is also important to know that, under California law, victims who were partly at fault may still be entitled to some compensation. It costs nothing to explore your possible legal remedies with a knowledgeable lawyer from our firm.
Why Hire a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?
At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we know a lawsuit can’t reverse the harms a pedestrian accident caused you and your family. However, receiving recovery money from the at-fault party or his/her insurance company can help you manage expenses in the face of a life-changing personal injury. We have won seven- and eight-figure verdicts for clients in more than 60 years of legal representation. Here’s what sets us apart:
- We take on all the risk. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our clients don’t pay a cent unless we win them monetary compensation. Our clients never have to pay attorneys’ fees before settlement or judgement. You have no money to lose and potentially thousands to gain in trusting us with your case.
- Unmatched multimillion-dollar results. We have the results history to back up our claims, with major settlement awards and judgments we’ve won for our clients. For example, we recently obtained a $4 million verdict for a pedestrian hit by a bus at Lombard and Van Ness.
- We care about our clients. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we represent individuals not corporations or insurance companies. Our goal is to help injured pedestrians in their greatest times of need. We want to be your comprehensive source of support during your recovery, providing legal counsel and professional advice to help you pursue your rights to the fullest.
After a pedestrian accident in the South Bay area, you need aggressive and knowledgeable attorneys by your side. Come to our firm for answers to your most pressing questions, including who may be liable to pay for your damages. We can help you explore your individual case and take steps toward pursuing compensation if appropriate in your situation. It is important to contact a lawyer immediately, even if you think you were somehow to blame. The law is on the side of pedestrians, and so is our experienced legal team.To schedule your free consultation, contact us today or call 415-981-7210.