Establishing Accident Liability with a Pedestrian


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Pedestrian injuries and deaths occur with regular frequency and the issue of accident liability arises. Both drivers and pedestrians have certain duties by law to exercise caution and in many cases both contribute to the accident.  Establishing liability means establishing negligence on the part of the driver or the pedestrian or both.

When the Driver is at Fault

When the driver caused or contributed to the pedestrian accident through negligence, the pedestrian is entitled to compensation for damages. Legally the term negligence means not doing something that you would expect a reasonable person to do in the same circumstances in order to avoid causing injury or death.

The pedestrian can prove driver negligence by proving the driver:

  • Had a legal duty to exercise caution
  • Failed to meet that legal duty through his or her actions
  • Acted in a way that caused the injuries to or death of the pedestrian
  • Is responsible for actions leading to pedestrian harm

When the Driver and Pedestrian are at Fault

It is not unusual to find that both the driver and pedestrian are at fault. In that case, both are said to have contributory negligence. Depending on the state in which you live, damages will be awarded based on shared liability, or the pedestrian will not be allowed to recover damages having been partially responsible for the accident.

In some cases, the person, business or agency responsible for maintaining the crosswalk, sidewalk, crossing lights and other infrastructures may be held liable for pedestrian accidents.

Duty of Care

The principle of duty of care applies to the driver, pedestrian or others contributing to the accident. The driver must exercise reasonable care and caution while driving and approaching areas where pedestrians may be crossing. For example, the driver must yield to pedestrians at marked cross walks and must follow the rules of the road.

A driver is also required to exercise a higher duty of care where children are likely to be present.  The driver is expected to be extra cautious wherever children are present, and failure to do so can lead to claims of negligence.

The pedestrian also has a duty of care in that he or she is expected to follow the laws and to exercise caution when traffic is present. For example, a pedestrian who crosses the street when the crosswalk light indicates “no crossing” or who jaywalks is not exercising duty of care.

Contact an Attorney

If you are a pedestrian who was involved in an auto accident or a driver who caused a pedestrian injury, it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

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