In our last article we talked about finding the deep pockets in your auto accident case. We wrote about how, if your client was involved in an auto accident with one, two or more cars, there is likely a well-funded responsible party in the situation — a “deep pocket” — that can be used to make your client whole. But what if your client is a pedestrian struck by a car or while on a road or walkway? There may be similarly deep pockets in your pedestrian accident case as well.
Pedestrian Accidents Caused By Sidewalk Obstruction
Sidewalks are made for pedestrians, and when the pedestrian is not able to use the sidewalk as intended, the party responsible for obstructing the sidewalk may be at fault. But that party is not always obvious, so discovering who those responsible parties are — the deep pockets in your pedestrian accident — becomes the job of the attorney representing the pedestrian, or of a qualified Accident Investigator, such as Glucroft Investigations.
Pedestrian Accidents With Construction Obstructions
Some pedestrian accidents occur when a sidewalk is obstructed by construction activity. Pedestrians will be walking along a sidewalk and come upon construction that impedes their use of the sidewalk, forcing them to walk alongside the construction on the street, which could result in the pedestrian being hit by a vehicle.
Many rules apply when commercial entities block a pedestrian walkway, some of which are detailed in city or county Building and Safety codes, such as the ones referenced in the Construction Site Notice Application of The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. Other local governments are certain to have similar rules. If your client is injured while the construction company was violating any of these regulations, you may be able to sue the construction company.
- Flag Persons are required to assist when construction activity blocks pedestrian and vehicle traffic: BSS – LAMC 62.46
- They are prevented from routine street closures during peak traffic hours. Any street, sidewalk, or other improvement work shall be in conformance with the latest Manual on Work Area Traffic Control: BSS – LAMC 62.107
- They must keep streets and sidewalks free of construction debris at all times: BSS – LAMC 62.45 through 62.54
- Separate permits must be issued if building materials are to be stored in public right of way by all of the following governmental agencies: Department of Public Works, Bureau of Street Services, Investigations and Enforcement Division: BSS – LAMC 62.45 through 62.54
These days, homeless encampments on sidewalks, often under freeway overpasses, are a common sight around the country, and especially larger cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. These encampments cause numerous public health problems, including trash, vermin, human waste and pedestrian injuries. In Los Angeles, Section 41.18 of the LA Municipal code requires that pedestrians be able to use walkways unobstructed, but the LAPD has a new policy that eases enforcement of these and similar laws.
So who is responsible if pedestrians need to avoid a homeless encampment and are subsequently hit by a vehicle because they are forced to walk in the street instead of the sidewalk? It could be the LAPD, whose refusal to enforce the law may be responsible for the encampment not being removed. Similarly, who is responsible when pedestrians walk on the street and suffer a non-vehicle accident, such as walking on uneven pavement in the street? It could be the city works department.
Another rising trend all over America are dockless scooters, such as those from Bird, Lime, and Spin. The purpose of these devices is to allow people to pick them up somewhere convenient and leave them elsewhere, at their destination. Unfortunately, the “elsewhere” is often on a sidewalk and causes an obstruction to the pedestrian. According to the Washington Post, the resulting scooter obstructions are causing pedestrians to get injured. As an example, the article mentions that 87 year old “Dolly Green had tripped over a … scooter crowding the sidewalk and fallen off a curb, sustaining five pelvic fractures, a deep elbow wound and a swollen knee.”
Who is responsible for these and similar injuries? Often, it’s the scooter company, but it may also be the local municipality if they have insufficient regulations or no regulations regarding the leaving of scooters on public property. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation now requires a permit in order for a company to operate in the city. That permit process requires that scooter companies communicate parking rules with their customers to encourage proper parking behavior, and “between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., the companies pick up scooters reported as incorrectly parked” within two hours.
But the issuing of a permit does not absolve the scooter company of responsibility. For example, the two-hour rule does not cover the darkest times of the night, during which time pedestrians are least likely to see scooters laying on the sidewalk. Scooters are just as much an obstruction at 6:45am as they are at 7:00am.
Crosswalk, Limit Lines and Other Traffic Controls
Pedestrian accidents often occur within marked or unmarked crosswalks. Pedestrians have the right of way within a crosswalk but do not have the right of way outside of a crosswalk. Your case may be such that there is some debate as to whether the pedestrian was or was not in a crosswalk, and that issue may hinge on whether the crosswalk was marked properly.
The Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (“MUTCD”) outlines all traffic control devices, including crosswalks. The MUTCD also specifies requirements for signage, lighting and other conditions whose violations may lead you to the source of another deep pocket for your pedestrian accident case, which is something we can check when running an Accident Investigation.
Finding The Deep Pockets In Your Pedestrian Accident Case
Regardless of the details of your pedestrian accident case, one indicator about the likelihood of finding deep pockets in your pedestrian accident case is when we consult the SWITRS system on your behalf. SWITRS is the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, a database of collision scene data that is maintained by the CHP. When we check SWITRS, we look for patterns of similar accidents at the location of your accident, at similar days of the week or time of day. Whatever the details of your case, use our Accident Investigation Service to get to the truth of your case, and to help you get a great result for your client. Contact us online or call us today at 866-411-8646. At Glucroft Investigations, We Uncover The Hidden.