Have you recently been in a pedestrian accident? You certainly have a lot of questions–likely the most important one being: Who is at fault? Pedestrian accidents aren’t always black and white when it comes to liability. To help you sort through the aftermath and take the next steps, here’s a guide to who is responsible for causing the collision.
Exercising Reasonable Caution
Juries judge pedestrian accident cases that go to court according to who exercised reasonable caution. The law also refers to reasonable caution as “duty of care.” This means that both motorists and pedestrians have a responsibility to avoid negligent behavior in order to protect themselves and those around them.
For example, a driver’s duty of care requires that the motorist look both ways and check for pedestrians. This must be done at all crosswalks and intersections before making a turn. Also, a driver who makes a turn before looking or does not signal to other vehicles is in the wrong.
Similarly, pedestrians are also expected to exercise a duty of care. For example, anyone walking must always look both ways before crossing roads. Then, wait for signals from drivers before they assume vehicles will stop for them.
Of course, duty of care can be tricky to objectively identify in court. Evidence such as camera footage and witness testimonies can help support a pedestrian accident case.
When Are Accidents the Pedestrian’s Fault?
In the US, especially in California, pedestrian laws are very strict. These laws protect walking individuals by giving them the “right-of-way.” As a result, many pedestrians believe they always have the right to cross roadways.
However, people traveling on foot still have a responsibility to proceed with caution. In the case that a driver has exercised reasonable caution, but a pedestrian accident still occurs, the pedestrian can be at fault.
Jaywalking is not a legal term. However, it is illegal. This act is when a person crosses a road that does not have a crosswalk or other designated walking path. However, different cities and towns have their own laws. Therefore, it’s important to know the local regulations. A simple internet search can address these inquiries, as well as ask local law enforcement.
If the pedestrian involved in the accident illegally crossed the road, that person is at fault. In fact, a jury may place most or all of the fault on the pedestrian. This is especially true if the individual was not clearly visible or did not approach the trafficked area with caution. Therefore, the driver could not have reasonably seen the person walking before it was too late.
In addition, the pedestrian could be liable for damages if the motorist suffered damages. An example of this would be an airbag deploying and injuring the driver. Or, this could be from the vehicle needing repairs after the collision.
Purposefully Being Reckless
Unfortunately, in some cases, pedestrians have purposefully entered the road recklessly. For entertainment purposes, some may find it fun to run in front of passing cars.
There are also many scenarios in which parents allow their children to play near roadways without supervision. This leads to children abruptly running out into the street and in front of passing cars. This is very common in neighborhoods and residential areas.
In the event that someone intentionally runs in front of a vehicle, that person on foot is at fault. The parent is accountable when a child is involved. They will also be liable for damages.
Ignoring Traffic Signals and Signs
Pedestrians are required by law to follow all traffic signals and signs. Many lights and road signs are in place for the benefit of pedestrians. For example, this is apparent in crosswalk lights and “yield to pedestrian” signs. It is reckless to use the road without paying attention to these signs. Therefore, if you ignore them, you’re at fault for the accident.
Pedestrian accidents often occur when someone crosses the street and the crosswalk signal indicates “do not walk.” As a result, that pedestrian becomes endangered by approaching vehicles.
Can a Pedestrian and Driver Share Fault?
In many cases, the driver is found to be at fault. This is because, in pedestrian accidents, pedestrians typically have the right-of-way. Often, drivers are speeding, disallowing themselves to slow down in time and avoid hitting the pedestrian.
Also, drivers are expected to give pedestrians a reasonable amount of space between them and the vehicle. When analyzing a pedestrian accident, the bottom line is based on who was more negligent. Questions that will arise include:
- Was the driver following all laws of the road?
- Did the driver attempt to slow down, provide ample space, and evade the accident?
- Was the pedestrian following all pedestrian laws and checking sufficiently for traffic?
Many times, an accident occurs due to the negligence of both the pedestrian and the driver. For instance, if a pedestrian was jaywalking and the driver was speeding, both parties are at fault. The collision could have been avoided if both parties followed the traffic laws.
In that case, a jury will split the fault between the two parties. Oftentimes, they will award a higher percentage of fault to the party that was more negligent in the incident.
Win Your Case With A Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Pedestrian accidents are unfortunate, yet common. If you were involved in a pedestrian accident, it’s very important to get legal advice from an experienced personal injury law firm.
Alpha Accident Lawyers specializes in automobile-related accidents. Our team is dedicated to putting in the legwork needed in order to obtain maximum compensation for our clients. As you focus on healing and recovering, we’ll focus on winning your case.
Schedule a free consultation with us to get started.