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Pedestrian Accidents on Freeways, Highways and Liability

There’s no doubt that pedestrians are at a great risk of injury or death when they are walking on or near just about any roadway, but even more so when they find themselves outside of their car on our busy freeways and highway. Motorists driving at speeds above 50 mph may not be able to avoid hitting someone who is walking across the freeway, standing on the shoulder or center divider or thrown out of a vehicle into their pathway.

Any impact between a vehicle and a pedestrian is typically a serious situation potentially involving catastrophic injuries, permanent disability or even death. Additionally, the financial burden of this can also be devastating to a victim and their family. Liability for a pedestrian accident can be attributed to either party or both the motorist and the pedestrian.

While a busy freeway is no place for a pedestrian there are times when they are present due to circumstances beyond their control. Most crashes involving them on the freeway are unavoidable, but there are times when a driver may be held accountable for a pedestrian’s injury or death.

For instance, a driver who is distracted or driving under the influence of alcohol may be considered negligent if they strike a pedestrian on the freeway. The driver and victim may share fault for an accident under some circumstances. Also, if there is an unrelated collision and a pedestrian is hurt the drivers of those vehicles could be held liable. Whatever the circumstances involved, a full investigation into liability should be conducted by police and confirmed by a qualified personal injury attorney to determine fault.


There were 4,735 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roughly every two hours a pedestrian dies and one is injured every eight minutes in the United States. Pedestrian accidents make up about 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in the nation, but their deaths represent a higher portion of crashes in California or 23 percent of all those killed in the state. The Golden State also has the highest number of pedestrian accidents in the U.S. with 701 out of 3,000 traffic accident deaths in 2013

The states of Florida and Texas were second and third with 501 and 480 deaths. However, Delaware and Florida were had the highest pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 people with 2.70 and 2.56 respectively.

Statistics show the city of Los Angeles ranked a distant second place behind New York City for the highest number of fatal pedestrian accidents among large cities in the U.S. Indeed, Los Angeles California city with 3.8 million people attributes a third of its deaths or 76 of the 227 fatalities to pedestrians. There are certainly many circumstances that could lead to a pedestrian accident. Below are some causes and examples that illustrate how serous these traffic accidents are.


There are many reasons why a person becomes a victim of a pedestrian accident on the freeway. Typically a driver’s car breaks down or runs out of gas on the freeway and the person exits their vehicle where they are hit by another motorist. Some drivers attempt to push their vehicles off the roadway or even try to change a tire or fix a problem on the side of the freeway.

It’s rarely ever safe to exit a car on the freeway due to the potential to be hit by another motorist at a time when you are without the protection of your vehicle. These pedestrians can be in the center divider or on the right shoulder and in both cases they are at extreme risk of injury or death.

One of the most common reasons a pedestrian is struck by a car on a freeway is because they attempted to walk across the freeway and were hit. Additionally, most of the pedestrian accidents on freeways take place in the dark when it is difficult to see them and motorists do not anticipate someone walking on the freeway in the first place, let alone at night.

People who are involved in a traffic accident on the freeway may get out to inspect the damage or exchange information with another driver and find themselves in a dangerous situation as a pedestrian on the freeway. Also the person may be thrown from a car or motorcycle into the roadway

If you have a cell phone you can remain in your vehicle to call 911 for help. However if you do not have a way to call for assistance you should try waiting for help to arrive and if you do have to get out of the vehicle, do not attempt to cross traffic lanes to get to the shoulder unless all traffic is completely stopped. If you do have to exit, use the door on the opposite side of traffic to avoid getting struck by cars.

Some recent freeway pedestrian accidents involving a fatality illustrate how a minor car breakdown can quickly turn deadly on the freeway.

A woman was killed in August 2015 when her car ran out of gas and she was attempting to refill it with a gas can on the side of the Interstate 5 Freeway, but she was struck by a driver entering from the nearby Euclid Street on ramp.

A man was struck and killed by a big rig truck when he opened his car door and stepped into the path of the vehicle in Glendora in August 2015.

There was also a man was killed in Gilroy when he stepped out of his disabled car on the 101 Freeway and was hit by a passing vehicle in June 2015.


If you are injured in a pedestrian traffic accident or have lost a loved one, you may call Johnson Attorneys Group at 800-235-6801 for a free consultation.

Johnson Attorneys Group

Johnson Attorneys Group

Founding Partner James Johnson, Esq. at Johnson Attorneys Group
As the founder of Johnson Attorneys Group, James Johnson has recovered more than $100 million in verdicts and settlements for his clients.
Johnson Attorneys Group

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