Published On: Tue, Apr 29th, 2014

Wheels or Feet: When Vehicles and Pedestrians Collide, Who’s at Fault?

When a car collides with a pedestrian, it is easy to assume that it is the driver’s fault. However, this is not always the case. Drivers must take special care of pedestrians when driving, but sometimes when there is an accident, the pedestrian is at least partly to blame.

Rough Road Sign public domain

Rough Road Sign public domain

Pedestrians at Risk

According to figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a total of 4,280 pedestrians were killed in 2010 in traffic accidents, which was a rise of 4 percent from the previous year. In addition, of the 69,000 pedestrians who were injured in 2011, 11,000 were aged 14 and under.

Because of the greater risk of serious injury or death to pedestrians when they are involved in an accident compared to drivers of vehicles, drivers must take special care on the roads. However, that is not to say that pedestrians are always blame free, and this can affect the amount of compensation that they are entitled to receive.

When Can Pedestrians Be At Fault?

So when can a pedestrian be at least partly at fault? There are many situations when this can happen, and every accident will have its own set of circumstances. However, it could include:

– a pedestrian being hit by a car when they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs and not paying attention while crossing the road.

– someone jaywalking or crossing the road in an unsafe location rather than sticking to the crosswalk.

– someone being involved in an accident when they were walking along a highway or in another area where they should not be.

– a pedestrian crossing the road when the signal is red.

These all essentially come down to the same situation of a pedestrian not taking proper care when they are crossing a road. In any of these situations, the pedestrian may be at least partly responsible.

photo by photoSteve101 via Flickr

photo by photoSteve101 via Flickr

Compensation Issues

The issue of who is to blame when an accident occurs is something for the authorities to determine. If the driver is found to be at fault, the pedestrian may be able to claim compensation. However, if the pedestrian is partly responsible, this may affect the amount of compensation they are entitled to.

If the state follows a comparative negligence system, the pedestrian may be able to claim compensation based upon how much of the blame has been assigned to them. However, if the state follows the less common contributory negligence system, such as in Maryland, the pedestrian will not be able to claim for any compensation even if they were only partly responsible for the accident.

Always contact a legal professional for advice if you have been in an accident and are unsure about what to do, and they may be able to help you make a claim for compensation. You can contact a local professional directly, or look for legal services online where you may also be able to find useful legal forms that you can use in various situations.

Take Care on the Roads

Whether driving or walking, make sure you take care on the roads. Many factors can be involved when an accident occurs, but you can help to avoid situations from occurring in the first place by paying care and attention at all times.

Guest Author :

Cynthia Rhoades  is a law professor with a penchant for unusual cases. She enjoys writing about common questions and obscure laws to help others better understand the legal system.

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