When Is a Pedestrian at Fault in a Car Accident?

Categories: Car Accidents

Usually, the driver is responsible in a motor vehicle versus pedestrian crash – but that doesn’t apply to all cases. A pedestrian can be found at fault, especially if they were the cause of the accident or purposely stepped into oncoming traffic.

Unfortunately, the law often sides with the pedestrian, which means anyone in a car accident with a pedestrian has an uphill climb. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident with a pedestrian, but you feel that the pedestrian was at fault for the accident, you have the right to seek compensation from that pedestrian for your injuries and losses.

Before going into your rights, it is critical you understand how fault is determined in an accident involving a motor vehicle versus pedestrian and what that might mean for your case.

A Driver’s Duty of Care – Was That Breached?

All motorists have a duty of care while driving on the road. That means obeying all road signs and yielding to pedestrians when they are crossing the road. That also means that a driver should operate a vehicle in a way that does not put others at harm. A person who is normally cautious while operating a vehicle should know when a pedestrian is nearby or at risk for being involved in an accident with them.

The first question that will come up after a motor vehicle is involved in an accident with a pedestrian is whether or not the driver kept their duty of care intact or if they breached that duty. For example, a motorist is driving 40 mph through a neighborhood with posted speed limits of only 20 mph. A pedestrian walks into the middle of the street and causes an accident. The driver had already breached a duty of care by speeding in a neighborhood, which put the pedestrian and others at risk. Had the driver been following the speed limit, it is less likely that an accident would have occurred because the driver would have had adequate time to stop. Sometimes, both parties may still be at fault.

However, it is important after this type of accident to determine if the driver breached his or her duty of care. If they did not, it may be easier to prove the pedestrian was at fault for the incident.

When a Pedestrian Can be Responsible for an Accident

You are always taught that the pedestrian has the right of way, but there are situations where even a cautious driver is involved in an accident with a pedestrian. If the pedestrian acted in a way that made it impossible for that driver to avoid an accident, then they may be found at fault for the accident and not the driver.

For example, the driver is going along the road at the posted speed limit and a pedestrian runs out into the street and causes an accident. The pedestrian was so close to the vehicle at the time they entered the road, there was no reasonable way for the driver to stop before striking the pedestrian. Furthermore, there was no reason for the pedestrian to be in the road, as they should have used the crosswalk a few feet further down the road. In this instance, the pedestrian made it impossible for the driver to avoid the accident. Therefore, the pedestrian is likely to be found at fault for causing the crash.

Also, there are instances where a pedestrian will purposely cause an accident – such as someone jumping in front of a vehicle. When someone jumps in front of a vehicle as a way to harm themselves, fault is not on the driver that hit them, especially if the driver can prove that there was no way for him to avoid the accident or that the pedestrian caused the accident on purpose.

Another example would be when an accident occurs in the middle of the night. Say the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing and walking along a highway where there was no sidewalk and no reason for them to walk along that highway. The driver sees the pedestrian and swerves to avoid hitting them, but by doing so strikes the guardrail. The pedestrian could be held liable for any injuries to the victims in the vehicle along with damage to that vehicle because the pedestrian’s actions led to the vehicle accident.

When Both Are At-Fault

There are instances where the pedestrian and driver may be at fault for the accident. Using the example before, say the pedestrian walked into the middle of the street but the driver was speeding down that street. Had the driver been going the speed limit, the chances of a collision were less likely. Likewise, because the pedestrian did not use the crosswalk and stepped in front of the vehicle, they too played a role in causing the accident.

In this case, the courts would look at each partys’ percentage of fault – and that contribution would then reduce their compensation amount. For example, you receive $100,000 in damages, but you are 20% at fault for the accident. The court would reduce your compensation amount by $20,000 (20% of the $100,000 reward), leaving you with $80,000.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney

Any time you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian, you should hire an attorney immediately. You need to protect yourself, especially if the pedestrian caused the accident. An attorney can help prove that you were not at fault for the incident, and that the pedestrian should pay for your financial losses.

To explore your options, meet with a local attorney that handles injury claims.

The team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC, can assist you with your motor vehicle versus pedestrian accident. Proving the pedestrian’s fault in these cases can be complex, but our team is here to show that you deserve compensation after your accident and hold pedestrians accountable.

To explore your legal options, schedule a free case evaluation by calling us directly or requesting more information online.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.