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Who Is at Fault for the Motorcycle-Pedestrian Accident in California?

Sailun Tires

With several vehicles traveling on roads and highways, there is a high chance of road users being involved in an accident, may it be a driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian. 

In contrast to two-vehicle collisions, a motorcycle-pedestrian accident frequently prompts concerns regarding visibility, right-of-way, and compliance with traffic regulations. Usually, either the motorcyclist or the pedestrian can be liable for the damages, depending on the circumstances of the crash. 

If you are involved in such accidents, you may file a personal injury claim for compensation if the collision results from another party’s negligence. However, note that you must first identify who is responsible for the crash before filing a personal injury claim.

This article will help you determine liability in a motorcycle collision with a pedestrian in California and how to win your case successfully. 

How Often Do California Collisions Involving Motorcycles and Pedestrians Occur?

Despite implementing strict safety laws and regulations, California is familiar with motorcycle and pedestrian accidents.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,932 motorcycle deaths in 2021 represented 14% of road fatalities. This year had the highest number of motorcycle fatalities since at least 1975. In addition, the California Office of Traffic Safety noted that from 34 in 2020 to 37 in 2021, motorcycle deaths attributed to not using a helmet increased by 9%.

Meanwhile, based on data released by NHTSA, there were 7,388 pedestrian fatalities in 2021, marking a 13% rise from the previous year. Additionally, 60,000 pedestrians sustained injuries across the country in the same year. In California, there was a 9.4% rise in pedestrian deaths, climbing from 1,013 in 2020 to 1,108 in 2021.

With the significant number of motorcycle and pedestrian crashes in California, pedestrians and motorcyclists must prioritize safety by following traffic regulations. They must also remain vigilant and exercise caution when navigating the road together. 

How Dangerous Are Motorcycle-Pedestrian Accidents?

The combination of motorcyclists and pedestrians in an auto collision poses severe risks to both road users. Due to the inherent vulnerabilities of pedestrians and motorcyclists to dangers, these accidents frequently end in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities.

Common injuries sustained in motorcycle-pedestrian accidents include:

  • Head injuries: Both pedestrians and motorcycle riders are vulnerable to head injuries, ranging from concussions to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Motorcycle helmets can reduce the risk of severe head injuries, but pedestrians are frequently unprotected.
  • Broken bones: The impact force can cause bone fractures in pedestrians and motorcyclists.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Both motorcyclists and pedestrians may sustain spinal cord injuries, which can result in paralysis or other long-term consequences.
  • Internal Injuries: The impact of the collision can cause internal injuries such as organ damage, internal bleeding, or injuries to the chest or abdomen.

People injured in such situations must seek quick medical assistance and a thorough assessment of their injuries. Depending on the extent of their injuries, individuals would need continuous medical care and rehabilitation to recover. Likewise, they may also need legal support from collision lawyers to pursue compensation for the damages.

Most Common Causes of Motorcycle-Pedestrian Accidents

There are many causes of motorcycle-pedestrian collisions, but some of the most frequent ones are as follows:

  • Failure to Yield: failure on the part of drivers or riders to give pedestrians the right of way at intersections, crosswalks, or when turning may lead to an accident.
  • Speeding: Excessive speeding reduces the reaction time for pedestrians and motorcyclists to avoid the collision.
  • Reckless driving: Pedestrians are at risk when drivers act aggressively or recklessly, such as when they move in and out of traffic or disregard the road rules.
  • Poor Visibility: For drivers or riders, poor visibility due to poor conditions, low light, or other obstructions might make it challenging to spot pedestrians on the road.
  • Lane Spitting: Motorcyclists going between cars in areas where lane splitting is permitted can be dangerous for pedestrians, especially in heavy traffic.
  • Distracted driving or walking: Motorcyclists distracted on the road may not see pedestrians crossing. Similarly, accidents can also be caused by pedestrians who are inattentive to their surroundings or distracted by electronic devices.
  • Jaywalking: Accidents can occur when pedestrians cross streets erratically or outside of approved crosswalks.

Both motorcyclists and pedestrians should be aware of these prevalent causes of traffic collisions. They should also take the necessary steps to reduce the probability of motorcycle-pedestrian accidents. 

How to Avoid California Collision Involving Motorcyclists and Pedestrians

All road users in California must drive cautiously and obey the rules to prevent collisions involving motorcycles and pedestrians. Here are some safety guides for pedestrians and motorcyclists:


  • Always use marked crosswalks and observe traffic signals when crossing the street.
  • Wear colorful or reflective clothing, especially at night.
  • Avoid unexpected movements that can surprise motorcyclists or cars by walking in a straight path.
  • Before crossing the street, ensure it is safe by looking both ways.
  • Avoid using your phone or engaging in other distractions when walking close to traffic.
  • Parking lots may be dangerous, so be aware of oncoming traffic and motorcycle riders.


  • Observe the specified speed limits and alter your speed as necessary for the terrain and the weather.
  • Wear reflective or bright clothing, and check that the lights on your motorcycle are working.
  • When turning or changing lanes, notify other vehicles and pedestrians what you intend to do.
  • Avoid swerving in and out of traffic or acting recklessly.
  • Pay extra attention when walking in areas with many individuals, such as intersections and crosswalks.
  • Crosswalk pedestrians must be given the right of way and follow all traffic signals.

Who is Liable for a Motorcycle-Pedestrian Accident?

In a motorcycle-pedestrian accident in California, several parties may be liable for the crash, depending on the circumstances of the incident. 

Determining Liability

All road users, including motorcyclists and pedestrians, must exercise the duty of care when using public roads and highways. This means that they should guarantee the safety of everyone else on the road. If they fail to do so, a traffic accident will likely occur.

In a motorcycle-pedestrian accident in California, you may be entitled to compensation if the crash results from another individual’s negligence. However, you will need to justify the following elements to demonstrate the other party’s wrongful actions that caused the collision:

  • The individual was responsible for ensuring everyone’s safety.
  • They failed to fulfill this duty.
  • The breach caused the accident.
  • The crash resulted in injuries and other damages.

Remember that both the motorcyclist and the pedestrian should exercise care on the road, so if a motorcyclist is involved in a collision with a pedestrian, either of them can be responsible for the damages.

The Motorcyclist Is Liable for the Crash

Motorcyclists should always practice defensive driving and adhere to the safety laws of the road. The critical thing to remember when highlighting the motorcyclist’s fault in the crash is to establish the traffic violations they had that caused the accident.

Here are some questions you will need to answer to identify the motorcyclist’s liability: 

  • Were they speeding before hitting the pedestrian?
  • Were they distracted?
  • Did they make an unsafe turn?
  • Did they go against the traffic signals?
  • Were they under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the crash?
  • Did they disobey any traffic laws that led to the collision?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, the motorcyclist may be liable for the pedestrian-motorcycle accident in California.

The Pedestrian is Responsible for the Collision

Contrary to what many people think, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. When crossing streets or walking on roads, pedestrians also have a duty of care. Remember that the state legalized jaywalking as long as it was safe. This means that they may be responsible for the accident if they cross the intersection or road despite knowing there are apparent risks. 

Moreover, the following questions may help you determine the pedestrian’s negligence:

  • Did they cross the street without checking for possible dangers?
  • Did they make an unsafe movement and catch the motorcycle off guard?
  • Were they under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the crash?
  • Did they ignore a traffic signal, which resulted in a collision?

In California, a pedestrian may be held accountable for a pedestrian-motorcycle accident if they responded affirmatively to the above questions.

Both Share Liability

If the motorcyclist and the pedestrian neglected their duty of care, resulting in a California collision, they both share liability for the damages.

Despite this, both parties can pursue a personal injury claim to receive compensation for the damages. This is because California follows pure comparative negligence, which allows injured victims to file a case regardless of how much they contributed to the accident. 

For example, a speeding motorcycle failed to avoid pedestrians crossing the road. At the same time, the pedestrian was talking on the phone, failing to notice the motorcycle. Let’s say the motorcyclist is 60% liable, while the pedestrian bears 40% liability. In such a case, the pedestrian can file a claim for 60% restitution. Likewise, the motorcyclist can contend for the 40% compensation. 

This is why contacting a California car accident lawyer is crucial to avoiding losing your case. They can assess the details of the motorcycle-pedestrian accident and determine the fair compensation you must receive. 

How Can California Collision Attorneys Help Me?

You must understand and follow specific legal principles to win your personal injury case. In a motorcycle-pedestrian accident in California, both involved individuals may sustain severe injuries, hindering them from focusing and defending their claim. Injured victims sometimes overlook the allowed time frame to pursue a case or gather evidence to prove liability.

Reaching out to a California car accident lawyer is the most effective way to protect your case from potential losses. They can assess your collision, determine liability, and provide guidance on the most suitable legal options to secure fair compensation.


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