It seems to be common knowledge that in traffic involving vehicles and walkers, pedestrians always have the right of way. This may not be wholly true -- pedestrians are still required to follow street signs and signals telling them when they can and can't cross the street, and for their own safety they should always cross at intersections, rather than jaywalk -- but as drivers and bikers we know that when a person on foot steps out in front of us, we have little choice but to slow down or stop for them.
Unfortunately, California consistently ranks at the top of statistics for pedestrian deaths. Almost 7,000 pedestrians were killed in California between 2000 and 2009. Although the fatalities were highest in Los Angeles County, Bay Area residents are not immune to this danger. On Saturday a pedestrian was killed in San Francisco's Tenderloin district when he was hit by a taxi cab.
According to a San Francisco police spokesman, a 38-year-old man was crossing a street just before 7 p.m. when a taxi ran a red light. But he wasn't struck right away. As the taxi entered the intersection, another car driving through on a green light broadsided the cab, causing it to spin around, at which point it struck the man in the crosswalk. He was rushed to a hospital where he died of his injuries.
Charges haven't yet been filed against the cab driver, but that says more about the police investigation than his fault in the accident. Whether or not he's held criminally liable, the pedestrian's family has the right to seek compensation for any medical, funeral or burial costs, as well as other damages. Right now little is known about the man and whether he had a family to support, but surely someone is already feeling his loss.
When pedestrians follow the rules of the road, they have every right to expect they won't step into harm's way. When they're injured or killed as a result of a driver's negligence, it's more than reasonable to expect that driver to make monetary amends.
Source: SFGate, "Tenderloin pedestrian killed by SF taxi," Ellen Huet, Aug. 13, 2012
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