You’ve probably heard the saying, “Pedestrians always have the right of way,” but does that mean that drivers are always held legally liable in all pedestrian – car accidents? When you think about when pedestrians are hit by cars, you may automatically think that the drivers are responsible 100% of the time, but that’s not always correct from a legal point of view.
Imagine you see a man dart out in the street to chase after his dog and the driver in front of you slams on his brakes but he hits the man anyway. You tell your spouse about the accident and he or she asks, “Well, did the driver have enough time to stop?” And you respond, “There was no way the driver could possibly stop in time. The man ran out in front of their car!”
Deciding on Legal Liability
As a witness to such an accident, it may be crystal clear to you who was to blame. But, when it comes to a pedestrian accident claim, there’s a difference: It’s usually an insurance adjustor or a jury deciding on fault. These folks weren’t there, so they’ll have to closely examine the facts of the case, including eyewitness testimony, the accounts from the pedestrian and the driver, the speed limit, and other applicable state laws.
Other tools will include the police report and possibly expert testimony. If it is clear that the driver is at fault; for example, if the driver hit the pedestrian as they walked through a crosswalk, the pedestrian should be able to seek damages through the driver’s insurance company. In contrast, if the pedestrian was entirely to blame for the accident, he or she may not be able to collect anything for the accident. In fact, the driver may be able to sue the pedestrian for damage to their car or any injuries sustained.
A pedestrian may be responsible for an accident if he or she:
- Crossed outside a crosswalk;
- Crossed during a red light;
- Crossed a street or highway while under the influence; OR
- Walked someplace, such as a bridge or freeway where pedestrians are strictly prohibited.