Determining liability in car accident cases can be tricky. Most people assume that, when they are hit from behind for instance, the person who hit them is always at fault. However, one thing to remember with nearly all personal injury cases, is that everything depends on the circumstances. So, to answer the question: is the driver always at fault for hitting a pedestrian, all of the facts must be examined first.
Depending on the fact, the pedestrian could be at fault
While it is true that, in many cases, the driver will be liable for hitting and injuring a pedestrian, that may not be the case every time. Drivers are certainly required to be more careful when they are aware that pedestrians are present, and even when they know that pedestrians are likely to be present. However, pedestrians are not without fault in every situation. Actually, depending on the circumstances, the pedestrian may be liable to the driver.
A driver’s general duty of care
Automobile drivers are responsible for driving carefully. What is considered careful always depends on the given circumstances. If it is raining hard, a driver is expected to slow down. If a driver is passing through a school zone, he or she is expected to be on the lookout for children. In general, a driver is held to the standard of what a “normal, careful and prudent person would do in the same circumstances.” Because not all circumstances are the same, the facts of the situation must be considered.
Maintaining vigilance when pedestrians are present
Whenever a driver knows a pedestrian is, or might be nearby, he is required to be extra vigilant and maintain strict control of his vehicle. For instance, a driver may be traveling only 25 miles an hour in a residential area, but if they see a child wobbling down the street on a bike, and they do not slow down even more, they may be liable for any resulting accident.
When can a pedestrian be liable in an accident?
It typically goes without saying that a normal driver would take any steps she could to avoid striking a pedestrian. But when the pedestrian takes some action that makes it impossible for the driver to avoid a collision, it may be determined that the pedestrian actually caused the accident. In other words, if the pedestrian behaves in some way that forces a normal driver to take evasive measures to avoid a collision, the pedestrian may be liable.
For example, a pedestrian walking down a highway at night, wearing dark clothing, makes it difficult for drivers to see that person. If the driver has to swerve at the last minute to avoid that pedestrian, and collides with another vehicle, the pedestrian may be at fault for causing any damage or injury to the other driver and her vehicle.
If you have questions regarding liability for automobile accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
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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