Car vs. Pedestrian Accidents: Who’s at Fault?

Thursday, June 19, 2014
When a pedestrian vs. car accident occurs, we're all very aware that the pedestrian is likely to take the brunt of any injuries that occur.  Sure, the car may suffer some body damage, and on occasion, the driver may even be injured.  Especially if they made a valiant attempt to avoid the accident that results in them striking another car or fixed object.  But how does it work in court?
 
The reality is, just because the pedestrian suffers more serious injuries, it doesn't mean the driver is automatically the one who reaches into his pockets.  In a court of law, they have to consider who did what and whether or not negligence of any kind played a role.  And in many pedestrian accidents, both the driver and pedestrian share some responsibility.  Who pays what amount of damages will be heavily influenced by the specific events of the accident.   With that said, the driver and pedestrian can be negligent in different ways.

A Negligent Driver
When you're driving, you're required to share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and (depending on where you live), even farm equipment or carriages. They have just as much a right as you to use the road, so you must exercise reasonable care when driving with them.  Just a few examples of violations of said reasonable care are:
  • Inattention or distractions (texting, attending to a child in the backseat, etc.).
  • Violating speed limits or traffic signals or laws.
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians.
  • Driving while intoxicated.

Not only that, but if the pedestrian in question is a child, your duty of reasonable care increases.  After all, kids aren't exactly predictable around traffic and often fail to think of the consequences of running off in any direction they like.  That especially applies when you have a way to know kids might be present, like driving in a school zone or on a street with a "children playing" warning sign.

A Negligent Pedestrian
Despite the fact that pedestrians are usually the party injured the most, that doesn't mean they aren't at fault. The driver of a car can only do so much if a pedestrian is negligent and can only stop so fast, after all.  What can a pedestrian do to cause an accident?  Plenty.  Here are a few examples.
  • Illegally crossing the street (like during a "don't walk" signal or failing to use crosswalks where they exist).
  • Suddenly walking or running into traffic
  • Walking into the flow of traffic
Pedestrians are actually equally responsible for watching for traffic. You can't solely rely on signals (so no texting while walking in traffic either).

Determining Who's at Fault
The rules vary from state to state when it comes to determining who's at fault.  In most accidents involving cars vs. pedestrians, both parties carry at least some of the blame.  The court will determine who's at fault and to what extent using either contributory or comparative negligence theories, which will be argued by the attorneys.  Each argument's weight or validity may vary from state to state.  The three main arguments are:
  • Pure contributory negligence — if the plaintiff contributed in any way to cause the accident, the defendant doesn't owe any money.
  • Pure comparative negligence — this refers to splitting the cost of the damages based on what the court determines each participant's blame is.  So, if you're determined to be 30 percent at fault, you're responsible for 30 percent of your damages.
  • Modified comparative negligence — similar to pure comparative negligence, except the plaintiff must be 50 percent or less at fault for the argument to stand.
Because car vs. pedestrian accidents can be tricky, it's best to consult a qualified Orlando personal injury lawyer to get a realistic idea of what kind of compensation you should attempt to collect for your injuries.  At Draper Law Office, we'll give you a free, no-obligation consultation to help you determine how to move forward. Just call us at 866.767.4711 or contact us by filling this form today.
Draper Law Office

6/19/2014

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