whos at fault for hitting a pedestrianIt can be a challenge trying to figure out who is responsible for an accident.  That is something that accident attorneys deal with regularly.  While many people assume, for instance, that being hit from behind in a car accident is a clear case of liability.  However, every personal injury case is not the same.  So many factors play a role in determining fault.  When it comes to accidents involving pedestrians, there can be even more complicated issues.  Ultimately, the driver is not always at fault when a pedestrian is hit.  Accident attorneys must first examine all of the facts.

The pedestrian may be partially responsible for their own injuries

Although in the majority of the cases, a driver who hits a pedestrian is at fault that is not necessarily true in every case.  While drivers are expected, even required, to be more cautious when they know that pedestrians are present on or near the roadway, depending on the situation, the pedestrian may be liable to the driver.

The general duty of care owed by every driver

Automobile drivers are always responsible for driving carefully.  What is considered careful will typically depend on the given situation.  For example, drivers are expected to slow down when it is raining.  If a driver is traveling through a school zone, he or she is expected to maintain a proper lookout for children who may dart out into the roadway.  Basically, the standard of care expected of a driver is that of a “normal, careful and prudent person would do under the same circumstances.” Since no two accidents are the same, the specific must be considered in determining liability.

Maintaining watchfulness when pedestrians are nearby

Whenever a driver knows pedestrians are present or are likely to be nearby, the driver is expected to be extremely vigilant and maintain strict control of the vehicle.  For example, a driver might be traveling only 25 miles an hour in a residential area, but if they see a child on a bike wobbling down the street, the driver is expected to slow down even more.  If not, the driver may be liable for any resulting accident.

When is it possible for a pedestrian to be liable?

It should go without saying that a typical driver would take the necessary steps to avoid striking a pedestrian.  But in situations where the pedestrian does something that makes it impossible for the driver to avoid striking the pedestrian, it could be the pedestrian who caused the accident.  Put another way, when a pedestrian behaves in a way that forces a normal driver to take evasive measures to avoid a collision, the pedestrian could potentially be found liable.

An example of pedestrian liability

Imagine a pedestrian walking down a highway after dark while wearing dark clothing.  This situation would obviously make it difficult for drivers on the roadway to see the pedestrian.  If the driver needs to swerve at the last minute in order to avoid that pedestrian, and in the process collides with another vehicle, the pedestrian may be liable for causing any damage or injury to the other driver and any damaged vehicle.

Also, be aware of the distracted pedestrian

Another potential source of liability is the distracted pedestrian.  In our culture nearly everyone is attached to their smartphones, so much so that they cross the street without ever taking their eyes off that phone.  Pedestrians are often seen texting and walking which can lead to a person falling off the curb or even walking into traffic.  This is especially true in areas near colleges and universities.  It is certainly expected that pedestrians will remain aware of their surroundings.  It is also expected that drivers on the roadway will be more diligent in avoiding collisions with pedestrians and cars alike.  That is why the facts of each situation matter so much.

Pedestrians may not realize the true risk of being on the roadway

Many people don’t realize that pedestrians are one of the most at-risk users of roadways in our country?  Although they make up only 3% of individuals involved in traffic collisions, they represent 14% of all traffic fatalities. The safety of pedestrians remains an essential traffic safety issue, especially in light of the statistics. In 2012, for instance, more than 4,500 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents and approximately 76,000 were injured.
If you have questions regarding pedestrian liability for automobile accidents or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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