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Who’s at Fault When Pedestrian is Struck on Freeway By a Big Rig?

Freeways are dangerous places with thousands of people dying every year in freeway accidents. Sometimes the victims are cyclists or pedestrians who have wandered onto the busy freeway lanes. In Calfornia, it’s generally against the law for a pedestrian to be walking on the freeway, except when their car is broken down, then they are allowed to walk to the next exit (CVC 21960).

Pedestrians on freeways are subjected to extreme dangers from careless motorists who should be watching out for them and distracted big rig drivers who may not have their eyes on the road.

Pedestrian Killed Walking on Freeway in Fresno

The California Highway Patrol reports that a 23-year-old man was struck and killed while walking on the 168 Freeway near 168 and Ashlan Avenue. The accident happened around 1:30 a.m. when the driver of an Elantra didn’t see the man and was unable to avoid hitting him.

According to witnesses, the man was dressed in dark clothes, and it was raining out at the time. The CHP was unable to determine if alcohol or drugs played a roll in the accident.

Automatic Fault?

If the law prohibits someone from walking on the freeway, then is it the fault of the person walking on the freeway if they get hit? After all, if they weren’t breaking the law, then they wouldn’t have been hit. While this has a common-sense ring of truth to it, it’s not what the law says.

Under California law, if someone violates the law which contributes to their injuries in an accident, they are not automatically at fault just because they broke the law. The reason for this is that California law requires that a person be found negligent before they owe compensation to those injured in an accident.


To determine negligence, the jury must decide that the actions of the person, when compared to what a reasonably prudent and cautious person would do under the same circumstances, came up short. This means that the person didn’t take the caution and care that the law requires and was thus negligent.

Once negligence is determined, then the negligent person is responsible for the injuries done to the victim. Many times, the jury will apportion blame to each person as a percentage, and then each person owes their percentage of the damages.

A pedestrian who walked onto a freeway could face 30% of the liability after getting struck by a big rig. The truck driver may have to accept 70% of the blame for traveling too far beyond the speed limit and not monitoring the road for obstacles. The pedestrian could be awarded a substantial award for damages, but it would be reduced by the victim’s 30% of fault. As a side note, in an accident involving a big rig, the trucking company employing the driver might also face liability and owe an injured pedestrian help.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer.

After any accident involving a serious injury in the Central Valley, contact attorney Martin Gasparian for a free consultation and case evaluation. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case. He believes that every client should work directly with their lawyer, get honest advice and personalized attention to detail their case deserves.


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