Driving is a privilege that comes with serious responsibilities, such as knowing right-of-way laws and maintaining awareness of everyone around you, including pedestrians. Sometimes drivers fail to meet that responsibility, often with devastating results. Because pedestrians have nothing to protect them, injuries caused by the driver of a car, truck, motorcycle or other vehicle can be life-altering for both victim and driver. But does a pedestrian’s high degree of vulnerability necessarily mean that a driver is considered at fault in a pedestrian accident? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the factors involved in determining fault in a pedestrian accident case. And, as always, if you or a loved one has been involved in such an accident, be sure to schedule a consultation with our pedestrian accident lawyers right away.
Duty of Care
In personal injury law, a driver must uphold the standard of what a careful person would be expected to do in similar circumstances. In the case of a pedestrian accident, the driver would keep their vehicle under control when a pedestrian is (or even may) be close by. As an example, if you are driving within the posted speed limit, you may still be at fault in a pedestrian accident if you did not lower your speed when you noticed a child walking closely to the edge of a narrow street, because a normally prudent or careful person would slow down in the same circumstances.
By the same token, pedestrians are expected to exercise reasonable care and obey traffic laws on the street or in crosswalks. Because it’s not always easy to understand duty of care on the part of both driver and pedestrian, it’s important to have an experienced pedestrian accident attorney review the details of your case.
When Pedestrians Cause Accidents
There are any number of situations in which a pedestrian may be at fault in a pedestrian-vehicle accident, including:
- Walking under the influence: Trying to cross a street while intoxicated
- Jaywalking: Crossing the street outside of a designated crossing zone or impeding traffic by crossing
- Crossing against the signal: Entering a designated crosswalk when traffic signals indicate pedestrians should wait
- Walking where pedestrian access is prohibited: Walking on bridges or highways where pedestrians are not allowed
- Forcing a driver to take evasive maneuvers: Darting out from between parked cars into the roadway, running out into the roadway to retrieve something, or walking along the edge of the road at night in dark clothing
- Distracted walking: Texting or looking down at a phone instead of being aware of surroundings
If there’s one thing we know from our decades of experience in personal injury law, things happen fast when an accident occurs. In the aftermath, it can be difficult to identify all of the factors involved and how each party may or may not have contributed to the accident.
An investigation by expert personal injury lawyers may ultimately reveal that both parties were at fault to some degree. If that’s the case, Florida’s pure comparative negligence rule may come into play. The comparative fault statute is used by the courts to divide fault between the defendant and the plaintiff and assign a certain percentage of fault to each party. If, for example, the jury finds that the plaintiff suffered $200,000 in damages and also finds that the plaintiff was 50 percent at fault, the defendant’s liability will be reduced by 50 percent and the judge will enter a judgement for the plaintiff in the amount of $100,000.
Here’s a simple example of a shared-fault pedestrian-car accident case: A driver was driving 20 miles over the posted speed limit when he struck a pedestrian who was crossing the street in the middle of the block instead of using a designated crosswalk and obeying traffic signals. The defendant was able to show that the plaintiff’s speed was a contributing factor to the accident, so both the defendant and the plaintiff share the fault.
What To Do If You Have a Pedestrian Accident
- The first and most important step is immediately seeking medical care. Don’t rely only on how you feel right after the accident—you may have injuries that won’t become apparent for days or even weeks. Even if you do not require emergency care or hospitalization, you should follow up with your doctor and keep all recommended appointments.
- At the scene of your accident, if you are able, obtain the names and contact information of all witnesses.
- Get insurance information from all parties involved in the accident.
- Take photos of the scene (from as many angles as possible), the vehicle that hit you, the roadway, nearby traffic signals, and anything else in the immediate area. This evidence may be critical to establishing liability much later on.
- Get a copy of the police report as soon as it’s available.
- Contact a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible. At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., our personal injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation consultations to help determine the strength of your case.
- Be aware that insurance company representatives will be quick to contact you and may try to minimize or speed up your claim in order to keep from giving you the full amount of compensation you may deserve. Do not give any written or oral statements to insurance companies without having consulted an experienced personal injury attorney.
Schedule your consultation now.
Our team of attorneys and accident experts can guide you through the complex process of filing a personal injury claim. We know how to communicate and work with powerful insurance companies and have decades of experience helping clients recover compensation for the true costs of their injuries. Depending upon the circumstances of your accident and injuries, you may have the right to compensation for the following:
- Costs related to medical care, such as hospitalization, assistive devices, physical or occupational therapy, and more.
- Unforeseen costs of medical care you may require in the future.
- Lost wages and the potential loss of future income.
- Pain and suffering (physical discomfort and emotional/psychological conditions).
You can reach us any time of day or night: Call us at 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111 or complete the form at the top of this page to schedule your free consultation. We’re glad to meet with you in our offices, at your home or workplace, or in the hospital.