According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of fatal road crashes in 2019 involving pedestrians was 6,205, down from the previous year’s 6,374 fatalities. While this may appear to be a slight improvement, the truth is, those numbers are still quite high, pointing to the very real possibility of being involved in a pedestrian accident.
When a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian even at what would appear to be lower speeds, severe and, in many cases, fatal injuries may result. Whether you’re a driver or pedestrian, it is important to be aware of the basic rules of fault in such incidences to determine the appropriate legal steps to take.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about car vs pedestrian accident cases.
Pedestrian Hit by Car – Who Is at Fault
The biggest question in pedestrian accident claims is how to determine fault in such cases. As a rule of thumb, the law of negligence is used to establish fault. According to the law, the party that fails to exercise what would be deemed to be a “reasonable standard” of care is generally considered “negligent.”
That being said, it is not unusual to come across an accident scenario where both the driver and pedestrian are at fault. For instance, if a pedestrian crosses the street illegally and gets hit by a car traveling over the stipulated speed limit, both parties in such instances can be at fault.
However, this kind of scenario may be treated differently in different states. Virginia and Maryland, for example, follow what’s referred to as a “pure contributory negligence” rule. It means that if the pedestrian is found to have been even the slightest bit responsible for causing the accident, they are not eligible to recover damages from the driver or their insurance company in a court of law.
Some states apply what is known as a “comparative fault” rule. In this instance, a pedestrian may be able to recover some damages despite being the at-fault party in a pedestrian accident.
The Law of Percentages
In all states, juries determine what percentage (if any) a plaintiff in a pedestrian-car accident claim contributed to their own injuries. For instance, a jury might find an individual who sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident while jaywalking 60 percent liable. On the other hand, the driver being sued might be 40 percent responsible if they were speeding.
Some states would then require the defendant driver to pay the pedestrian 40 percent of their associated losses in damages. However, in other states, the defendant driver wouldn’t be required to pay a dime if the pedestrian was found to be more than 50 percent responsible.
Recovering Damages in a Pedestrian Accident
To recover damages in fatal pedestrian accidents or any other kind of non-fatal pedestrian accident, the surviving family members or the victim themselves have to prove that the driver acted negligently. This would involve showing that:
- The driver had a duty of care toward the pedestrian
- The driver’s actions were in breach of that duty and, as a result, acted negligently
- The driver’s negligent actions played a significant role in causing the pedestrian’s death or injury
Drivers generally have a duty of care toward all pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users. Driver negligence can be proven by:
- Driving while under the influence of an intoxicating substance
- Failing to yield at a pedestrian crossing sign
- Going around a school bus that has stopped
- Hitting a driver in the break-down lane
- Not giving ample space to pedestrians getting into a parked car
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Texting while driving
If you are ever involved in a pedestrian accident, the one thing you need to keep in mind is never to admit fault. While it may be natural to want to offer up an apology after an accident, the other party may use those words later to pin the blame on you.
Get in touch with a pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible and let a jury or an insurance adjuster decide who the at-fault party is. This is especially important if you’re not entirely sure who caused the accident.
Whats J Walking and Who Is Liable
Jaywalking, or “J walking,” refers to the act of crossing a busy street in a non-designated area with complete disregard for approaching traffic. This begs the question – If you hit a jaywalker, are you liable for their bodily injury claim? The short answer is – yes, you are.
Remember, anytime you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you have a “duty of care” to pedestrians and other road users. This means that you need to drive reasonably and cautiously while always watching for the conditions on the road.
Even if a pedestrian is jaywalking and, therefore, breaking the law in the process, you can still be held liable for hitting them as they cross the street. Anytime you see a pedestrian on the sidewalk, you always have to assume that they may walk onto the street at any instance.
Pedestrian Hit by Train – Who Is at Fault
So far, we’ve looked at pedestrian accidents involving motor vehicles. What about a train pedestrian accident? Who is liable for the injuries sustained?
Generally speaking, railroad companies have a duty of care to ensure that the designated crossing areas are safe for motorists and pedestrians alike.
These companies have to anticipate potential accidents in zones with high foot traffic and take the appropriate steps to ensure that pedestrians are safe at all times.
If someone trespasses on railroad property at a non-designated pedestrian crossing, the company’s duty of care to the trespasser will be held at a much lower standard. The railroad company’s liability is technically non-existent until such a time when it becomes aware of the trespasser’s existence.
In other words, if a pedestrian gets hit by a train while trespassing on railroad property in a non-designated crossing, the individual in question would be responsible for their own injuries.
However, if the railroad company is aware of past trespassers crossing at that particular point on the railroad and fails to prevent such crossing, the company may be at fault.
Talk to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
State laws vary widely when it comes to who is at fault in a pedestrian accident and the extent to which they are liable. Whether you’re the victim or the driver in such an incident, ensure you get the best legal representation from a reputable pedestrian accident law firm to increase your odds of getting a favorable outcome.
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