San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accident

At The Brod Law Firm, we are proud to work with motorcycle riders who’ve been injured by negligent drivers and we have long supported the motorcycle riding community.  However, ultimately our job is to help the wrongfully injured or those grieving the wrongfully killed.  While it is less common than pedestrian accidents caused by cars, pedestrian accidents caused by motorcycles are a threat.  When a negligent motorcycle rider harms a pedestrian, our San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney is, as always, prepared to fight for the wrongfully injured.  We know that most riders are as committed to safety as they are to the open road and suspect they’d support our efforts to help the victims of motorcycle riders who failed to appreciate the power two wheels can have.

Weekend San Francisco Motorcycle Crash Leaves Pedestrian Dead

Over the weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the arrest of a motorcycle rider on hit-and-run charges.  A police spokesman told reporters that a 67-year-old woman had been crossing 24th Street mid-block in the vicinity of Noriega Street shortly before 7 PM on Friday when a motorcyclist passed around a double-parked vehicle and hit the pedestrian.  The woman was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The motorcyclist fled the scene on foot, leaving the pedestrian and his motorcycle behind.  Police were able to find video cameras that captured the deadly accident and the motorcycle rider, a 59-year-old male, later surrendered to police.  He faces vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, and speeding charges.

Numerous California Motorcycle vs. Pedestrian Accidents in 2015

pedsign2Friday’s crash is just one example of the motorcycle vs. pedestrian accidents that have occurred in California this year.* In September, The San Gabriel Times reported that a motorcycle struck a pedestrian who had been lying in the middle of a West Covina road.  It is unclear why the pedestrian was in the road and if he was unconscious, but he later died from his injuries.  In July, according to The San Diego Union Tribune, a woman suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries when she was hit by a motorcycle while crossing against the light in downtown San Diego.  Also in the San Diego area, ABC10 reported on a pedestrian who died after being hit by a motorcycle in January.

Closer to home, readers may recall that in July a motorcycle careened into a group gathered in Downtown San Francisco.  As ABC7 reported, the rider hit several pedestrians in the crosswalk at Market and 3rd.  Witnesses reported that the motorcyclist had been speeding.  Four people were hospitalized, one with life-threatening injuries.

Study: Elevated Relative Risk of Pedestrian Fatalities Per Mile for Motorcycles vs. Cars

After reviewing the events above, we continued to find even more examples of motorcycles hitting pedestrians, even limiting our research to California in 2015.  Surprisingly, there has been little research into this issue.  One of the few papers on the topic, a 2002 study published in Injury Prevention, found that 25 of the 4,875 pedestrian fatalities in 2002 involved motorcycles.  The authors suggested looking at deaths per mile travelled to obtain a fuller safety picture and found motorcycles were involved in 2.62 pedestrian deaths per billion miles travelled while the number for cars was 1.36.  Per the study, “motorcycles and buses were involved in relatively few pedestrian deaths, but were much more likely than passenger cars to be involved in a pedestrian fatality for every billion miles of travel.”  Stated another way: “Motorcycles and light trucks also showed a significantly increased relative risk compared with passenger cars.”  Notably, per mile, motorcycles were significantly more likely to kill pedestrians ages 0-14 years old compared to passenger cars.

Helping Northern California Pedestrians

Most motorcycle riders, like most drivers, are responsible and safe.  In fact, no group dislikes negligent riders more than safe riders whose reputations are sullied by those who don’t respect the power of a modern motorcycle.  If you were injured by a motorcycle while walking in Northern California or a loved one was killed because of a motorcycle rider’s negligence in Northern California, call our office to learn about your legal rights.  We are proud to serve the Bay Area and beyond with pedestrian injury law offices in Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Rosa.  Meeting in our office affords us access to a variety of resources, but we are happy to meet you elsewhere if you are unable to travel to us.

*Note: Since California uses a comparative negligence rule, the pedestrians in these cases may, depending on the exact facts, have a claim against the rider even though their own acts may have contributed to the incident.

See Related Blog Posts:

Pedestrian Fatalities: Local Accidents, National Statistics

Caught on Tape – Using Video Evidence in Support of a California Personal Injury Claim

(Image by Peter Blanchard)

Some people never drive a car, some never travel by public transit, many never fly, but almost everyone is a pedestrian at some point.  Pedestrian safety is a critical piece of the transportation safety picture and Attorney Greg Brod is proud to serve as a pedestrian accident lawyer in Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and other Northern California communities.  In today’s post, we look at a tragic series of fatal pedestrian accidents in the Bay Area in recent days.  We then move to the national level and take a look at who is involved in pedestrian crashes plus when and where these tragedies occur.  Understanding accidents is critical to preventing accidents and serving our clients after a tragedy strikes.

At Least Three Northern California Pedestrian Deaths in November’s First Nine Days

Recent weeks have seen a number of fatal pedestrian accidents in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The San Jose Mercury News reports that Interstate 880 near Highway 237 in Milpitas saw at least two fatal pedestrian accidents pedkilledwithin a week’s time.  CHP personnel told reporters that a man was hit by multiple vehicles and killed when he tried to run across Interstate 880 on November 1.  Another accident occurred on the same road on November 6 around 5:10 PM.  According to the paper, a 65-year-old man was trying to cross the freeway’s southbound lanes just south of Dixon Landing Road.  In addition to the two pedestrian fatalities, a motorcycle rider was also killed in the same general area on November 3.

Despite the spate of accidents, Milpitas was not the local community to see a pedestrian death in the past two weeks.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a woman was hit and killed in Walnut Creek on the morning of Monday November 9.  The Chronicle reports that a driver ran a red light at Treat Boulevard and Candelero Drive, hitting a pedestrian in the crosswalk before broadsiding another vehicle and coming to a stop in the intersection.  The incident occurred around 7:50 AM and, after being taken to the hospital, the 56-year-old female pedestrian passed away at 9:15 AM.  Police are reportedly looking into whether the wet weather played a role in the tragedy.

Pedestrian Fatalities by the Numbers: Who, When, Where

In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) released its annual Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians report based on data from 2013.  Overall, the agency found that 4,735 pedestrians died and 66,000 were injured due to traffic crashes nationwide in 2013.  This works out to one pedestrian death every two hours and one pedestrian injury every 8 minutes.

  • Who?

According to the NHTSA, the average age of the pedestrians who were killed in the U.S. during 2013 was 46.   The report found that 5% of pedestrian fatalities were children age 14 and younger while 19% were people over the age of 65.  Looking at the age issue from a different angle, 14% of all traffic deaths involved pedestrians, but 21% of all traffic deaths involving children were pedestrian deaths, making it critically important that we focus on child pedestrian safety.  Males made up a whopping 69% of pedestrian deaths.  Another notable fact: Approximately 36% of pedestrians fatally injured in traffic accidents had blood alcohol content levels of 0.08 or higher.

  • When and Where?

The NHTSA found that nearly three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities in 2013 occurred in urban areas.  Further, approximately 69% of the fatal crashes occurred on roadways when the pedestrian was not in an intersection, 20% involved a pedestrian in an intersection, and 10% involved other locations like parking lots, sidewalks, and shared-use trails.  A total of 72% of fatal pedestrian accidents occurred in the dark.  Overall, 6 to 8:59 PM was the three-hour period that saw the highest percentage (26%) of pedestrian deaths.  Interestingly, the NHTSA found that pedestrian fatalities tended to occur earlier in the day during fall and winter than during spring and summer.

Helping Pedestrians in Northern California

Pedestrians should always obey traffic rules and should make every effort to travel in well-lit conditions.  That noted, pedestrians are always at the mercy of drivers and their safety is dependent on the behavior of every driver they encounter.  When driver negligence leads to a pedestrian tragedy, we help the injured and/or grieving hold the driver legally accountable and ensure the victims recover the compensation they need and deserve.  Remember, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, the law does not demand a plaintiff’s perfection so pedestrians may be able to recover compensation even if they made mistakes.  Call our San Francisco/Santa Rosa/Oakland pedestrian accident lawyer and arrange a no-cost consultation to learn more.

See Related Blog Posts:

Sharing the Road: Even the Safest Pedestrians and Motorcyclists Rely on Responsible Drivers

A California Law Firm Helping the Victims of the Hit-and-Run Epidemic

(Image by Joe Shlabotnik)

The end of Daylight Savings Time is a yearly occurrence that many of us eagerly anticipate and dread in equal measures.  Many people reveled in an extra hour of rest this past weekend (at least those without young children whose sleep cycles don’t change simply because we adjusted our clocks!).  However, that extra hour of sleep comes at cost: lost daylight.  While many people worry about the impact on afternoon activities and even on people’s moods, at our Oakland injury law firm we worry about another danger – the tie between car accidents and daylight savings time.

Increased Risk of Car Accidents When Daylight Saving Time Ends

sunsetLast year, Time Magazine delved into the twice-yearly debate about changing the clocks, focusing on the impact of Daylight Savings Time (“DST”) on road safety.  The article suggests that losing an hour of afternoon sunlight, as we do each fall when DST ends, may result in an increased number of traffic accidents.  According to a 2004 study, the lives of some 170 pedestrians and 200 motorists could be saved each year by maintaining DST all year.

Why?  Time cites Professor Steve Calandrillo, an advocate for a move to year-round DST, who notes that more people are active in the evening hours than during the morning.  Calandrillo emphasizes that the vast majority of both children and adults are awake and active at 5 PM while fewer are on the move (or even awake) at 7 AM.  When the widely-experienced afternoon light is lost, roadway visibility suffers.  Others point to the abrupt change itself as a danger, even when we don’t lose sleep.  Economist David Gerard told Time that, despite the darker conditions, afternoon/evening commuters often behave as if it is still light out for a few weeks after DST ends, driving faster and being generally less attentive whether on foot or behind the wheel.

Specific Threats: Young Pedestrians and Wildlife Crashes

Other sources point to more specific roadway dangers following the fall time change.  In an article published this weekend, suggests that children are particularly at risk for pedestrian crashes this time of year, particularly during the afternoon/evening commute.  The Canadian automotive news site says diminishing daylight, tired drivers, and restless kids contribute to the fact that three times as many children are injured on the way home after school than are hurt on the morning trip to school.  Additionally, the report cites a study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania that found pedestrians in general are three times more likely to be hit by a motor vehicle in the first weeks after the fall time-change than in the weeks prior.

Another category of accidents that rises following the “fall back” is wildlife accidents.  A Denver-area CBS affiliate reports that the motorists should be particularly alert for wildlife following the fall clock-change.  At least in Colorado, November is the most dangerous month for wildlife crashes due to poor visibility and the time shift placing more animals on the road during busy commutes.

Explanations, Not Excuses

The time change and resulting dark commute may explain an increase in car accidents, but it does not excuse them.  Ultimately, safety is a matter of driver responsibility.  Studying trends can help prevent accidents, but drivers must be held accountable when they endanger others.  We encourage anyone injured in a Northern California car accident caused by someone else’s negligence to call our Oakland car accident injury lawyer.  We also urge every reader to take extra caution this time of year – we can help people get through the difficult time following a car accident, but the only “good” accident is one that never happens.

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Back to School Safety: School Bus Accidents & School Transportation Safety

Vision Zero San Francisco: Making Progress on Plan to End Traffic Fatalities

(Image by Dawn Ellner)


As your San Francisco personal injury law firm, we fight for compensation for the injured and we know our client’s need money to move forward after tragedy.  To put it bluntly, money helps.  Still, we understand that no amount of money can take away the pain of an injury or the grief of a loved one’s death.  This is why we believe in prevention first.  While many entries on this blog include cautionary tales and evidence-backed advice that we hope will further support our commitment to safety, this post will focus on hope and the ambitious prevention goals embodied in the Vision Zero SF plan.

What Is Vision Zero SF?

Vision Zero SF is a road safety policy and a commitment to protect our city’s residents and visitors by making the streets safe and livable.  According to the program’s website, 30 people die and more than 200 are seriously injured each year as they travel the city’s streets.  The Vison Zero program, which originated in Sweden and is spreading to U.S. cities, is based on the belief that these numbers are unacceptable and these accidents preventable.  San Francisco adopted the policy in 2014.  The collaborative effort involves policy changes and cultural shifts with the lofty but firm goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2024.  The initial Two-Year Action Plan calls for completing at least 24 traffic safety improvements in the first 24 months

The Progress

Are Vision Zero SF’s goals realistic?  Many thought the ambitious goals could never be met.  There are promising signs that the doubters may be wrong.

sanfranIn July, the San Francisco Chronicle published a one-year update.  The Municipal Transportation Agency (“MTA”) committed to completing at least 24 of the 40 specific traffic improvements enumerated in the Vision Zero plan during the first two years.  Most of these early action items have been completed and an MTA spokesman says San Francisco will meet the Two-Year Action Plan’s goals while also completing additional improvements not on that initial list.  Completed projects include: 1) Daylighting (removing visual obstructions, including parked cars) 80 intersections in the Tenderloin, among the deadliest areas for pedestrians; 2) Installing specified traffic signals; 3) Installing temporary curb extensions at specified crosswalks; 4) Adjusting signal timing; and 5) Stopping vehicles further back at certain crosswalks.

The July update notes plans to tackle two bigger projects in the coming months on Polk Street between McAllister and Union and on Market Street.  In August, KQED reported on the implementation of turn restrictions preventing private vehicles from turning onto Market between Third and Eighth Streets.  Market Street is among the focal areas for the two-year plan because it saw 162 injury-causing collisions between 2012 and 2013.  Other recent Market Street changes include the extension of transit-only lanes and improved safety/loading zones.

As for the ultimate goal, traffic fatalities are down, but officials say it is too soon to tell if the two-year plan’s projects deserve credit.  Vision Zero SF team members say 12 people died in San Francisco traffic collisions through June (7 pedestrians, 2 bicyclists, 3 motorcyclists).  That is a drop from the 15 killed in the same period in 2014 (9 pedestrians, 2 bicyclists, 2 motorcyclists, 2 drivers).

A Commitment to Safety

There is more to be done, but we are excited by the progress.  Some might think it odd for an injury law firm to focus on safety.  Suspicious, they ask: “Wouldn’t you lose business (and money) if there were no traffic accidents?”  Perhaps, but we are people first, people who live in this community and are personally affected by traffic tragedies.  This commitment to safety drives our work.  One reason we are committed to holding people accountable in court is that it legal consequences prevent those people and others from engaging in dangerous behavior.  In that spirit, our Northern California injury law firm applauds the vision behind Vision Zero and the progress towards its lofty goals.

If you do find yourself dealing with an injury or mourning a relative following a Bay Area traffic accident, please call.  We can help you move forward and together we can further the goal of accident prevention.

(For an interesting look at the differences between Vision Zero New York and Vision Zero San Francisco, see this article from the non-profit Next City.  It includes a fascinating (to us!) discussion about setting goals that fit our city’s tech-driven nature and using data to enhance safety.)

See Related Blog Entries:

Sharing the Road: Even the Safest Pedestrians and Motorcyclists Rely on Responsible Drivers

Pedestrians and Drunk Drivers: A Dangerous, Often Deadly, Mix

(Image by Leonardo Pallotta)

Cars are powerful machines, a fact that is easy to forget as we go about our day-to-day lives.  Occasionally, however, we are given a sharp reminder.  In some cases, this comes in the form of a close call; a driver glances down momentarily, perhaps returning a beverage to the cup holder, and looks up to with just enough time to motorcycleBbrake before hitting someone crossing the road.  Such moments make us think about what could have happened and remember how much responsibility we have behind the wheel.  Unfortunately, sometimes the reminder takes a harsher form and someone is hurt or even killed.  These moments remind us of the sheer power of the automobile, the importance of attentive driving, and the vulnerability of other travelers, especially those not protected by an automobile themselves.  As the following story of two crashes illustrates, pedestrian injuries and motorcyclist injuries are far too real and, in the opinion of our San Francisco injury law firm, far too common.

Pedestrian and Motorcycle Rider Hit in Two Crashes

A motorcycle officer and a pedestrian were injured in a pair of accidents on Tuesday.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a police officer aboard a motorcycle was struck by a car around 7:30 A.M. at the intersection of Leavenworth Street and Golden Gate Avenue.  A police spokesman told reporters the officer was in the far-left lane when a Volvo travelling in the same direction changed lanes, hitting the officer and sending him crashing into a nearby parked car.  The officer was injured but is expected to recover.  The driver is cooperating with investigators.

The motorcycle crash occurred when the officer was en route to an accident at Sixth and Stevenson.  There, a pedestrian was crossing the street when he was hit by a 2008 Porsche Boxer.  Witnesses report the man hit the car’s windshield before falling and briefly being pinned underneath the car.  He was taken to the hospital but, at the time of this writing, there was no information on the pedestrian’s condition.

Pedestrian and Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Pedestrians and motorcyclists can take many steps to ensure their own safety, pedsign2but they always remain vulnerable to the actions of the drivers around them.  One negligent driver can kill a pedestrian or motorcycle rider or leave him/her seriously injured.  According to the Traffic Safety Facts Overview published last month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), 2013 saw 4,668 motorcyclists die and approximately 88,000 suffer injuries in traffic incidents nationwide.  Further, 2013 saw 4,735 pedestrian deaths and an estimated 66,000 pedestrian injuries.  Taken together, 9,403 pedestrians and motorcyclists account for 28.7% of the 32,719 people killed in traffic crashes reported to police in 2013.  Notably, pedestrians and motorcyclists accounted for merely 6.7% of all traffic injuries.  Taken together, we believe these figures point to the increased likelihood that a person on foot or on a motorcycle will die in a crash compared to better protected occupants of cars and trucks.

An Advocate for the Injured and Grieving

Our law firm fights for the injured and the grieving.  Attorney Greg Brod is an experienced advocate for both pedestrians and motorcyclists injured in accidents in Northern California, with particular experience advocating for the catastrophically injured.  While most accident cases are resolved prior to trial, Attorney Brod always keeps the potential for trial in mind as he works with clients and negotiates with opposing parties.

Remember, the insurance company is not on your side and you do not have to accept their initial offer.  Tell the insurance company or the person at fault that you will be represented by an attorney and call our San Francisco personal injury law office to schedule a free consultation.  Most accident cases are handled on a contingency fee meaning we only get paid if you recover.

See Related Blog Posts:

A California Law Firm Helping the Victims of the Hit-and-Run Epidemic

Examining the Numbers Following Fatal Motorcycle Crash in Milpitas

(Motorcycle image by Flickr user LenDog64; Pedestrian sign image by Peter Blanchard)

At its core, the justice system is about holding people accountable for their actions.  In the personal injury/wrongful death arena, this means making at-fault drivers (and/or other wrongdoers) face their actions and the results thereof.  Hit-and-run drivers are a prime example of individuals who have committed an egregious wrong.  Our Oakland hit-and-run injury attorney works with professionals to find these offenders (notably, legal teams often locate people the police cannot find) and then uses the justice system to ensure they face their actions.  We cannot make the perpetrators of hit-and-run accidents feel remorse, but we can make them face the consequences of their actions and compensate those they hurt.

Hit-and-Run Accident Kill San Leandro Pedestrian

pedkilledLast week, a hit-and-run driver cut short the life of 26 year old Madeline Moore of San Leandro.  As reported by the Oakland Tribune, Moore was crossing at the intersection of Hesperian Boulevard and Thornally Drive at around 9 A.M. on Monday when she was hit by a black Toyota T-100 pickup truck.  She succumbed to her injuries that afternoon.

The driver of the Toyota did not stop after hitting Moore and has not, as of the time of this writing, been identified.  A tip did, however, lead police to locate the truck itself in Hayward on the 28000 block of Thackeray Avenue.  Police are asking the driver to come forward voluntarily.  They have also requested anyone with knowledge about the driver contact 510-577-2740 or 510-577-3230 for voice calls, text “TipSLPolice” to 888777, or use 510-577-3278 to speak anonymously.

Hit-and-Run Statistics: A Growing Plague

In November 2013, USA Today published an article with a title that speaks for itself: “Fatal Hit-And-Run Crashes on Rise in U.S.”  The article noted that hit-and-run deaths rose steadily in the prior years from 1,274 in 2009 to 1,393 in 2010 and again to 1,449 in 2011 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  This increase occurred despite the fact that traffic fatalities overall trended down between 2009 and 2011, giving further credence to labeling the problem a “plague” and one of “epidemic proportions” in some regions.  In 2012, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety’s statistics, there were 314 fatal and injury-causing hit-and-run collisions in Oakland and 344 in San Francisco.

Using the Law to Help Hit-and-Run Victims

If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should contact the police and seek any necessary medical care immediately.  As soon as possible, you should also call Oakland car accident injury attorney Gregory Brod.  Why?  First, we can help look for the at-fault driver.  The police will investigate, but they have limited time and resources to devote to any given case.  We work with experts who can help identify the driver who caused your injuries or killed your loved one.

Second, we can defend your legal rights and help you recover compensation.  In general, hit-and-run recoveries can come from two primary sources.  If the at-fault driver is located, you will likely have a civil injury or wrongful death claim and you may be entitled to punitive damages in addition damages intended to compensate you for your losses.  If the driver is not found, you may have a claim against your own insurance company If you have uninsured motorists coverage.  In this case, your insurer’s interests are in opposition to your own making it critical you obtain legal representation before agreeing to or signing anything.

There is no question about it, car crashes are scary and hit-and-run collisions can be particularly frightening.  We can help ease your fears by putting our experience and knowledge to work for you.  Call (800) 427-7020 to schedule a meeting with Attorney Brod at our hit-and-run law offices in Oakland, San Francisco, or Santa Rosa.

See Related Blog Posts:

An Injury Attorney’s Role in Hit-and-Run Cases

Oakland Injury Attorney Comments on Coverage for Hit-and-Run Accidents

(Image by Joe Shlabotnik)

When we mention train safety, people often focus on the possibility of a collision between a train and a car or similar motor vehicle.  However, train safety is also about pedestrians.  As a developing story reminds us, pedestrian train accidents are a very real, often fatal, threat.  Our San Francisco train accident attorney stands ready to help when a pedestrian rail crash stems from the actions (or inaction) of a careless conductor, a risky corporate policy (formal or informal), or another negligent decision that puts innocent pedestrians at risk.

Muni Light Rail Car Hits and Kills San Francisco Boy

A tragic accident stunned San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood on Tuesday when a child pedestrian was hit by a Muni vehicle and died at the scene.  At the time of this writing, the facts were slowly unfolding and the story still developing.  The San Francisco Chronicle was reporting that a 12 year-old boy had been hit by a Muni light rail vehicle near San Jose and Lakeview avenues.  Officials told reporters that the boy was running through the crosswalk to catch another train to get to school at the time of the incident.  Muni service in the area was stopped while the medical examiner responded.

Remembering Another San Francisco Pedestrian Killed in Caltrain Tunnel in February

Back in February, another pedestrian died in another Bay Area train crash, this one with a tragic ironic twist.  On Monday February 23, a man died after being struck in one of the three Caltrain tunnels that lead out of the San Francisco to the Peninsula.  As The San Francisco Chronicle reported, the pedestrian crash involved a train that was en route to pick up passengers who had been delayed because of an earlier accident in which a woman was killed after a Caltrain vehicle hit her car in Menlo Park.  The report noted that wanderers and homeless individuals are known to frequent the Caltrain tunnels and transit officers frequently patrol the area, often calling in to hold a train while the track is cleared.

Report Cites Increase in Pedestrian Rail Crashes

trackcurveIn August 2013, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch examined the problem of pedestrian railroad crashes.  Citing federal data, the paper found a 26% jump in the number of pedestrians fatally struck by trains during the first five months of 2013 versus the same period the year before (199 deaths in January through May 2013 versus 158 fatalities in January through May 2013).  The report notes that people walking on railroad tracks in the U.S. are deemed trespassers because the rail network is private property.  Nonetheless, people often use rail tracks as part of shortcuts.  This is one factor that likely contributes to a surprising fact – in every year from 1997 through the Post-Dispatch review more people were killed while walking on tracks than as occupants of vehicles struck at train crossings.  While total train accidents have been on a downward trend, falling 16.5% in 2012, the pedestrian problem is growing with pedestrian railroad deaths rising 7.5% that year.

Causes & Liability in Pedestrian Rail Collisions

Many factors contribute to pedestrian rail accidents.  Sadly, some of these deaths are likely suicides.  In other cases, the pedestrian simply failed to exercise due caution (see Operation Lifesaver for safety tips).  Still, far too often, the train company or one of its agents is at fault.  One threat is distracted conductors, including those using mobile communication devices while at the helm.  Other train accidents stem from a dangerous decision made in the train company’s corporate offices, such as declining to install safety gates.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian rail accident and you believe someone else is to blame, call our San Francisco train crash lawyer.  Remember: Under California law an injured party can recover even if his/her own negligence contributed to the accident.  In those cases, the amount of the recovery will be reduced to account for the plaintiff’s share of fault.

Edited 5/13, 8:15 A.M. — In a terrible twist, between the time we wrote the post and it went live on the blog, a major train derailment happened on the East Coast.  From California to Pennsylvania, our thoughts go out to all those affected by this tragedy.

See Related Blog Posts:

Danger on the Tracks: The Risky State of the BART Rail System

Fatal Crash Involving Train, SUV in Oakland Adds Another Grim Statistic for 2014

(Image by Ari Herzog)


There are few activities that involve more trust than the simple act of crossing the street.  While we learn at an early age that we should look both ways before crossing, we still trust that stopped vehicles will remain stopped and that people will heed basic traffic laws.  Very few drivers set out to hurt or kill a pedestrian.  Yet, people continue to drive drunk, an act that violates the trust of every single pedestrian.  As a Sonoma pedestrian accident attorney, Greg Brod is dedicated to fighting on behalf of pedestrians hit by drunk drivers and holding drivers accountable when they violate our trust and endanger us all.

Petaluma Pedestrian Hit By Suspected Drunk Driver

Late last week, The Press Democrat reported on an accident involving a suspected drunk driver and an elderly pedestrian.  According to police, 85 year-old George Stucky was badly injured when hit while using a crosswalk at the intersection of Petaluma Boulevard North and East Washington Street in Petaluma on Thursday at 5:16 P.M.  Police say an unidentified driver was stopped at the intersection, apparently waiting for Stucky to cross before making a left turn onto Washington Street.  Allegedly, 48 year-old William Atkinson hit Stucky when Atkinson drove around the stopped vehicle in order to make the same left-hand turn.  Police suspect Atkinson had been drinking; he was transported to an area hospital for a blood-alcohol test before being booked on suspicion of felony drunk driving involving injury.  As of late Thursday, Stucky was being treated at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and listed in stable condition.

Pedestrian Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers: The Statistics

pedkilledIn 2013, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report  released in February 2015, 4,735 pedestrians died as a result of traffic accidents in the United States (701 in California).  Approximately 15% of these fatalities, a total of 701 pedestrian deaths, involved a driver with a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit of .08.  There were an additional 183 pedestrians killed in accidents involving a driver with a BAC between .01 and .07, meaning the driver had been drinking but was not legally drunk.  The report does not indicate how many of the estimated 66,000 pedestrians injured in traffic accidents in 2013 were hurt in accidents involving an intoxicated driver.  However, supposing the percentage held steady between fatal and injury-causing accidents, 9,900 pedestrians would have been injured by drunk drivers over the course of the single year.


…and the Law

A drunk driver who hits a pedestrian may be subject to criminal and/or civil charges.  On the criminal side, the charges could range from a general DUI charge to a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Penal Code 191.5(a)).  In some narrow cases, particularly if the driver was previously convicted of a DUI, the criminal charge could even rise to the level of murder (PC 187).

Whether or not criminal charges are filed by government authorities, a pedestrian hit by a drunk driver and/or the pedestrian’s family may have a civil claim(s) against the driver.  In a personal injury case, the plaintiff may be able to recover compensation for financial losses as well as pain and suffering.   If the pedestrian is killed, a family member may be able to recover under the detailed wrongful death statute (Civil Code 377.60).   Damages in wrongful death claims may include coverage for medical bills, funeral/burial expenses, and loss of financial and/or emotional support.  In certain cases, either a personal injury or wrongful death claim might be filed against a third-party such as a host who served the alcohol or a municipality that designed a particularly dangerous intersection.

A Law Firm for Pedestrians Hit By Drunk Drivers in Northern California

Attorney Brod has the education and experience to help victims and their families fight for their legal rights after a DUI accident.  Call our San Francisco, Oakland, or Santa Rosa pedestrian injury law offices to schedule a free consultation.  In most personal injury and wrongful death cases, our clients don’t pay us a penny unless they recover monetary compensation.

See Related Blog Posts:

Crosswalks & Pedestrian Safety

Compensation & Change: Our Law Firm’s Goals Following a Pedestrian Death

(Image by Joe Shlabotnik)

At times, it seems like reading the paper or watching the news requires a level of detachment.  With so many stories of personal tragedy, connecting emotionally with every report can be overwhelming.  Yet, connecting the story to the law is a key part of what we do at our San Francisco wrongful death law firm.  Connecting allows us to serve our clients on the emotional, as well as the legal, journey that follows tragedy.  Ensuring the jury connects with the plaintiff and/or victim can help us recover compensation for the client.  A personalized story can also drive home a message about accident prevention.  Today, we look at the story and the law behind a recent pedestrian fatality and we consider the potential legal implications for an accident caused by someone fleeing the police.

Kind, Warm-Hearted Woman Killed in Pedestrian Crash

crosswalk2Last Friday, a 42-year-old female pedestrian was struck and killed in San Francisco’s Financial District.  On Monday, one of the headline stories on the San Francisco Chronicle website took a closer look at the victim and the fatal accident.  At around 10 P.M., police say three men held up an individual near the intersection of Clay and Larkin.  Shortly thereafter, officers attempted to pull the trio over and the suspects fled in a Toyota Corolla.  Around the same time, Bridget Klecher was walking in the Financial District after dining with a friend.  With police in pursuit, the Toyota sped north on Leavenworth Street and plowed into Klecher as she crossed near Kearny Street.  The vehicle continued fleeing and hit another person at Post and Powell Streets before the suspects abandoned the car on Treasure Island.  While the second victim is expected to survive, Kearney later died at San Francisco General Hospital.

Friends held a memorial service for Klecher on Sunday.  They described her as kind and warm, a jokester, and “the coolest girl I’ve ever met” without a mean bone in her body.  She’d moved to San Francisco from Maryland in the mid-1990s.  Klecher was a Giants fanatic and eagerly awaited the home opener.  Now, her friends await a break in the case

Civil and Criminal Implications of a Death Caused By Perpetrators Fleeing Police

Often, mourners find some solace in seeing those responsible for an untimely death held responsible.  Regular readers of this blog know that the criminal and civil arms of the law operate separately.  Family members can pursue a wrongful death case in civil court at the same time as prosecutors bring criminal charges, or even if authorities choose not to prosecute.

Special criminal charges may apply when someone is killed by perpetrators fleeing the scene of another crime.  Vehicular Manslaughter, defined in Penal Code 192(c), involves (1) killing another (2) when driving with negligence or gross negligence and (3) committing either a non-felony unlawful act or a lawful act that might lead to a death.  While murder typically requires proof of malice, a special Felony Murder Rule (CA Penal Code Sec. 189) allows the charge when the death occurred during the commission of one of the listed felonies (including robbery, burglary, and sexual assault) or another inherently dangerous felony.  It can apply even if a co-conspirator actually killed the victim.  The Felony Murder Rule only applies if the death occurred during the commission of the felony, but that generally includes an immediate escape attempt that continues until the individual reaches a temporary place of safety (see Criminal Jury Instruction 3261 which further defines a place of temporary safety as having escaped from the crime scene and no longer being chased).

On the civil side, the case would most likely be brought as a wrongful death action under Civil Code 377.60 et. seq.  This claim typically belongs to the deceased’s closest relative(s).  Punitive damages, which are intended to punish the responsible party rather than compensate the victim, may be deemed appropriate.  This can greatly increase the amount of money that the defendant owes the plaintiffs.

Choosing a Lawyer

Choosing a lawyer is a difficult decision.  We encourage you to look at the information on our webpage and arrange an initial consultation with Attorney Brod, a skilled and experienced San Francisco injury lawyer.  We promise to handle your civil claims with the utmost respect, keep you informed throughout the attorney/client relationship, and, of course, provide top-notch legal services while never forgetting the human side of our relationship.  Please call to learn more.


See Related Blog Posts:

Compensation & Change: Our Law Firm’s Goals Following a Pedestrian Death

The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Rule in San Francisco Injury Lawsuits

(Image by Robert Vega)

At the Brod Law Firm, we are more than a personal injury law office, we are a personal safety law office. We work to get compensation for those who are paying the price for someone else’s negligence, including families of those who paid the very highest price. We are also advocates for safety, encouraging people to take steps to prevent accidents. We believe in preventing people from causing accidents and also helping people avoid becoming victims. Safety tips are rarely perfect, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still be followed, a truth that came to mind as our Santa Rosa pedestrian injury lawyer learned about a recent accident and explored the evidence regarding crosswalk injuries.

Crosswalk Crash Leaves Girl in Critical Condition Last Sunday night, a Santa Rosa family was walking to their car after visiting with relatives when their world was suddenly shattered by a terrible accident. The Press Democrat reports that the father and son had already crossed Petaluma Hill Road in the vicinity of Breeze Way and the mother and 6 year-old daughter were walking hand-in-hand through the crosswalk when tragedy struck. Police say the pedestrian warning lights were activated when a northbound car approached the crosswalk. Reportedly the driver saw the mother and daughter at the last moment and applied his brakes but he still hit the little girl, despite the duo’s attempt to jump out of the way. The child was thrown approximately 25 feet up the road. She was initially taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and then flown to Children’s Hospital in Oakland. As of Tuesday, she remained hospitalized with critical, life-threatening injuries. An investigation into the crash is underway and the driver is cooperating with police.

crosswalk2.jpgThe NHTSA on Crosswalk Safety Despite Sunday’s accident, we strongly recommend pedestrians use (and localities install/maintain) crosswalks. In June 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a National Pedestrian Crash Report aimed at analyzing trends in pedestrian accidents between 1997 and 2006. The research found that only 9% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in crosswalks compared to 80% occurring in roadways. The report concludes: “This indicates that using a crosswalk is the safest way to cross a street.” Many other research pieces and safety guides from the NHTSA echo this sentiment, such as a 2012 Consumer Advisory that urges pedestrians to “walk with care” and use crosswalks whenever possible.

Crosswalk Controversy Perhaps surprisingly, crosswalks are not without controversy. There are groups that suggest crosswalks can be dangerous, pointing primarily to over-confidence on the part of pedestrians. These groups say that pedestrians are too quick to presume a crosswalk will be safe and do not take other appropriate safety precautions (ex. looking for approaching vehicles). We don’t disagree that it is important for pedestrians to watch for traffic whenever crossing a road, but we ultimately agree with the NHTSA that crosswalks, when used appropriately, are a net positive. This does not mean accidents cannot occur, as Sunday’s events show all too well, but we still encourage pedestrians to use crosswalks.

Additionally, some groups use research that points to a higher number of injuries on roads with crosswalks. We would respond by pointing out that crosswalks tend to be placed on busier roads and are unlikely to be found on smaller roads that have less traffic and thus fewer accidents.

Focusing on Safety and Compensation Crosswalks only work when pedestrians use them and drivers respect them. It is too soon and we have too little information to pass judgment on Sunday’s crash. However, the fact that the victim was utilizing a crosswalk can be a key piece of evidence supporting the plaintiff’s case in a personal injury or wrongful death case. If you or a loved one was injured in a crosswalk accident in Northern California, please call our office. Our pedestrian injury law office in Santa Rosa, along with our other locations in San Francisco and Oakland, is here to help you recover compensation from those at fault.

See Related Blog Posts:
Caught on Tape – Using Video Evidence in Support of a California Personal Injury Claim
With Numbers in, 2013 Goes Down as Deadly Year for Pedestrians in San Francisco

(Image by Robert Vega)