As a licensed motorist, you are usually under the assumption that a pedestrian always has the right of way. But, what if that pedestrian broke the rules of the road and caused your motor vehicle accident? Is he or she responsible for your damages and injuries? Or, will you be stuck paying for an accident and the associated injuries because it was a pedestrian?
If a pedestrian negligently causes an accident or contributed to the car accident, the motorist may be able to sue the pedestrian.
Assessing the Claim for Negligence
In order to file a claim, you must have an accident that occurred due to negligence. Pedestrians are vulnerable when it comes to traffic; therefore, motorists are required to yield to pedestrians. However, pedestrians must also exercise a standard of care that a reasonable person would also exercise when sharing the road with vehicles. This means waiting for their turn to cross, yielding to vehicles when necessary, obeying street signs, and using designated crosswalks to cross the street.
If a pedestrian deviates from the standard of care that a normal person would exercise, then he or she could be considered negligent under the law. In this case, the motorist may be able to retrieve compensation.
However, it is rare for a pedestrian to be the cause of the accident. A pedestrian may, however, contribute to the accident.
The legal theory of contributory negligence is what gives a portion of the liability to the other party. For example, if a motorist strikes a pedestrian, and the pedestrian was partially at fault for the accident (for example, he or she was jaywalking or walking against a red light), then he or she will be held partially responsible for the injuries he or she sustained due to being struck by the motor vehicle. We see this a lot in cases where an adolescent runs out into traffic to go after a ball, and is struck by a driver who is suddenly faced with someone jumping in front of his moving car. This percentage of “contributory negligence” reduces the amount of compensation that the pedestrian is entitled to get from the driver of the car. If, however, it is discovered that the pedestrian is more than 51 percent at fault for the accident and resulting injuries, he or she will recover no compensation.
In the jaywalking example, if a pedestrian was jaywalking in the middle of the night and was struck by a vehicle, the pedestrian will share in the fault for the cause of the accident. If the driver of the striking vehicle should have seen the pedestrian, it might result in the pedestrian being considered 80% at fault for the accident by the courts. Therefore, the pedestrian cannot bring a suit against the driver. The driver, however, may have a claim against the pedestrian. However, if we apply the 20% contributory negligence to the driver, then the driver’s compensation would be reduced by 20 percent, because the driver was 20 percent at fault for the accident.
Speak with an Attorney First
When an automobile-pedestrian accident occurs, a personal injury attorney should be involved. An attorney can help identify potential contributory negligence issues, as well as determine if there is a valid claim against the pedestrian. The laws regarding pedestrian accidents are complex, and not all instances where a pedestrian causes an accident can result in a lawsuit. Schedule a consultation with Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. today regarding your accident. You can reach him on his cell at 215-771-0430 or in the office at 800-465-8795. You can also request a consultation through our online contact form.