These pedestrians are walking at an intersection, as is proper. The woman at left, however, is walking against a red light. If she were hit by a car, she could be found at least partly at fault if there were an accident. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Charvex)
When a car or other automobile hits a pedestrian, the injuries are usually much worse for the person walking than for the driver. This disparity is why pedestrians have a lot of protections under the law, though they can be found at least partly at fault for accidents in some cases.
It is a common misconception that pedestrians always have the right of way. Under certain circumstances pedestrians can bear some or even all of the liability when an automobile hits them or if their actions cause an accident. But in most cases they can still get some at least compensation, despite the rigorous efforts of insurance companies to deny them.
Under California law, a party can be held partly responsible for injuries to another person. With “comparative negligence,” which is the law in California, both parties can share fault and liability for an accident. In the case of pedestrian accidents, take the following scenario as an example: A person is jaywalking and is struck by a car going 55 in a 35 mph zone. Because he was jaywalking, the pedestrian is partly at fault. But because the driver was speeding, he is also partly at fault.
Drivers and pedestrians who get into accidents often try to lay the blame for the collision on each other, but the fact is many times it’s the driver who is at fault, either partially or totally.
When Drivers are Negligent
Drivers are usually negligentand liable to pay damages if they hit a pedestrian in the following circumstances:
- Running a red light or ignoring a stop sign
- Not using directional signals
- Colliding with a pedestrian in a crosswalk or at an intersection
- Making a right turn at a stop light in front of a pedestrian crossing the street
- Failing to take proper care for bad weather conditions
Drivers owe what is called “a duty of care” to pedestrians. That is, they must show more care and safety with respect to pedestrians in general and children especially. Drivers can breach this duty by driving while intoxicated, speeding, disobeying traffic signals or laws or by being inattentive or distracted.
Pedestrians may Share Blame
Everyone, in whatever circumstances, must exercise reasonable care. In the case of pedestrians, they must obey traffic laws when using crosswalks and streets. If the pedestrian fails to show reasonable care and causes harm to a driver, the pedestrian likely will be deemed negligent under the law.
Pedestrians can’t just run right into traffic without looking, get hit by a car and expect to collect a big settlement. Pedestrians are also required to remain alert and cognizant of what is going on around them.
If a pedestrian breaches his responsibility and acts without reasonable care and thereby causes an auto accident, he may be at fault.
If a pedestrian darts into the path of a car from between parked cars, for example, and the driver can’t avoid hitting him, the pedestrian likely will be deemed partly at fault. But if the driver has time to evade the driver and crashes into a parked car instead of the pedestrian, the fault for this accident lies with the pedestrian. The pedestrian may be liable for damage to vehicles or any injuries the driver sustains.
When can a pedestrian be held partly at fault? Some of the circumstances where courts have found pedestrians to be at least partly at fault include:
- Crossing the road on a Don’t Walk light
- Running or walking into or against the traffic flow
- Failing to use crosswalks (jaywalking)
- Running into the path of a car
Another example is if a person crosses on a Don’t Walk light and is hit by a speeding car, a court may rule that both parties share some negligence in this accident. If the pedestrian is found to be 60 percent liable, and the driver 40 percent, the pedestrian would get 40 percent of the damages. So if the parties had decided the damages were $10,000, the pedestrian would get only $4,000.
A Serious Problem
The problem of car vs. pedestrian accidents is serious, according to statistics (PDF) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2012, about 5,000 pedestrians were killed and 76,000 injured when hit by cars or trucks.
This NHTSA table shows the problem of pedestrian fatalities has been increasing in recent years after there had been a decline in the late 2000s.
Pedestrians also may be injured by defects in sidewalks or parking lots, poor maintenance or debris in the walkway.
If you’re hit by a car or otherwise injured while walking, call the police immediately, don’t talk to anyone at the scene, don’t leave the scene and try to get IDs of witnesses.
Call Krasney Law
The next thing you should do is call Krasney Law: Personal Injury Specialists of San Bernardino and Los Angeles. We will advise you of your legal rights, how to proceed with an insurance company, or we can explore the possibility of bringing a lawsuit.
Remember, if there is no recovery, there is no fee.Either we get your case settled or win at trial!! An attorney can help you obtain the maximum compensation. Some estimates say lawyers double the compensation in accident cases, even after the client pays the contingency fees.
Our phone number is (909) 380-7200. You may also contact us on the Web at https://krasneylaw.net/contact-us/. Our main office is in San Bernardino but we represent clients in personal injury cases all across the state of California.
See our blog postingPedestrian Accidents Can Be Devastating for tips on how to avoid getting hit by a car while walking.