The major bone of contention after an accident is usually about who was at fault. Now, it gets even trickier when a pedestrian is involved. If you’ve ever been involved in a road accident or witnessed one, then you know how confusing this situation can be. In most cases, the pedestrian is never blamed for the accident. All the accusing fingers will be pointed at the driver, who may or may not be at fault. In some countries, things can get heated up pretty fast. Instances of motorists being lynched have been reported after a car hit a pedestrian.
The sense of determining fault after a car has hit a pedestrian is not as simple as most would assume. The best part, however, is that most of these cases will go to trial and instead of witnesses or sitting judges deciding on who was at fault, it will usually be left to the jurors and insurance companies. A personal injury attorney is also very crucial in such cases. So, is the driver at fault or could it be the pedestrian's fault? To help answer these intricate questions, below is a guide to knowing who’s at fault when involved in a pedestrian accident.
Determining Who Had the Right Of Way
Both motorists and pedestrians must learn a thing or two about the right of way laws. Fortunately or unfortunately, the right of way can have different meanings to different people. In addition to this, these laws may differ from one state to the other. When traveling abroad, you may have a hard time when navigating the various roads in your country of destination. This is why before traveling, and if you’ll be driving abroad, you need to learn about the various traffic laws that can affect you. To add to this, whether abroad or not, as a motorist, you need to know more about pedestrians and their right of way. Ideally, a driver is required to stop or slow down at various intersection points to give way to oncoming traffic or pedestrians crossing the road. After an accident involving a pedestrian, a personal injury attorney will investigate whether the pedestrian had the right of way or not. The same will be done to the motorist in trying to determine fault. It’s never an easy process, but with witness information, traffic cams, and CCTV videos, it can be fairly easy.
Most accidents involving pedestrians are as a result of someone’s negligence. It may be the driver’s fault or that of the pedestrian. In most cases, both the driver and the pedestrian will be at fault. In this case, different states have adopted systems that help when it comes to compensation. Let’s take a look at some of these rules:
- Contributory negligence – Not many states have adopted contributory negligence. In this case, however, the defendant must prove the plaintiff’s negligence. If found guilty, the plaintiff will not recover anything from the defendant. It can seem pretty tough and harsh for the plaintiff, but as earlier mentioned, this system is not practiced in many states.
- Comparative negligence – Also known as non-absolute contributory negligence, involves comparing liability. Actually, the system is about splitting liability. The system involves reducing the amount the plaintiff can recover from the defendant depending on their percentage of fault.
Victims of pedestrian-car accidents have a right to file a claim. This will ensure that they are fairly compensated through the driver’s insurance policy. But to prove fault, they must be able to show the following:
- The driver had a legal duty of care
- There was a breach of duty of care
- The injuries were caused by the breach of duty
In personal injury cases involving pedestrians, determining fault must also involve carefully establishing the factors that could have contributed to the accident. Now, the areas of liability in pedestrian accidents include:
- The pedestrian – One thing to note is that though pedestrians are the most vulnerable and the most affected when it comes to most car accidents, they are not always without blame. Pedestrians are also required to obey traffic rules and road signs. They should never leave their places of safety when it’s not safe to do so. This means that they should wait until the road is clear to cross the road. There are areas where pedestrian traffic will be prohibited. In such cases, pedestrians must use the available crosswalks.
- The driver – As earlier mentioned, the first person to blame in an accident involving a pedestrian will be the driver. While it shouldn’t be so, it could be that the driver was driving recklessly or overspeeding. In addition to this, most drivers will ignore and disregard traffic rules. Such a driver can be held liable if all these accusations add up.
- Other contributing factors – These are factors that neither the driver nor the pedestrian had control of. They may include poor road conditions, bad weather, and mechanical issues. Now, in the case of a defective vehicle, the manufacturer will usually be held accountable.
Pedestrian car accidents are complicated and intricate. Allocating fault is the trickiest part and will in most cases require a thorough investigation. An experienced attorney can help in this area and they’ll advise you on the best strategies to use.