While most people focus on traffic accidents that involve exclusively cars, pedestrians are also extremely endangered in many of today’s cities and towns. There are rules in most states about motorists being required to yield to those crossing the street. This, of course, is designed to protect defenseless walkers from the potentially fatal power of cars. Like most traffic accidents, pedestrian accidents carry with them the distinct possibility of a lawsuit on the basis of negligence. Both the driver and the person walking can be responsible for the accident, with the pedestrian bearing some of the responsibility under contributory or comparative negligence doctrines. The following provides an overview of some of the relevant information on pedestrian accidents.
Accidents Between Pedestrians and Vehicles
No matter what a driver is doing, he or she has a duty to demonstrate reasonable care under the circumstances in which they are driving. What constitutes reasonable care can change depending on the circumstances. For instance, a person driving in the rain in an area where there are many pedestrians has a different duty than the person who is driving in perfect conditions on a road where pedestrians rarely travel. In any case, if a driver fails to live up to his or her duty under the law, they can be found negligent. This can leave them with liability for the injuries that occur to a pedestrian in any given accident. There are many ways in which a person can be negligent or violate the duty of reasonable care. The most obvious examples come when a person violates a rule of law, such as laws against speeding, laws against drunk driving, or laws against distracted driving. However, the driver does not have to be in violation of a criminal statute in order to be found negligent. It can be true that some actions are both acceptable under criminal traffic law and unreasonable under civil law. The standards are different, and how a situation will play out depends largely upon the circumstances.
While it is clear that drivers have a responsibility to uphold, pedestrians are not let completely off of the hook. They must also exercise their own care in upholding the legal reasonableness standard. They are required to take precautions to account for their own safety. The amount of care they are required to take is measured by the level of risk of any danger they might face, as well as the damage that might occur in the unfortunate event that they are involved in an accident. If a pedestrian is found to have not exercised reasonable care, they could be found negligent under a contributory negligence standard. In some states, this means they cannot recover any damages for the accident. In other states, it can reduce the amount they receive in damages. There are many examples of things that pedestrians can do that will lead to a finding of negligence. For instance, the failure to use a crosswalk, the decision to walk directly into traffic, or even being drunk in public can constitute negligence that might make it more difficult for them to recover damages.
It is critical to understand the differences between children and adults. Children have a lower duty of reasonableness and cannot be expected to make decisions on the same level as an adult. Likewise, the law acts to protect young children from these kinds of accidents, since kids aged five through nine are in the most danger when walking on the roadways. When drivers are traveling through areas where children are likely to be present, they have an even greater duty to account for the movements of those children. For instance, those driving through school zones will often face higher responsibilities for their conduct. Put more succinctly, some states do not allow defendants to utilize a contributory negligence defense against a child who has been injured. These states hold that because of the young age of the child, that child is not capable of properly making decisions to protect himself, and thus, the burden to protect the child is shifted to the driver.
When Pedestrians are Involved in Highways Incidents
When wrecks happen on the interstate, they can cause extensive injury. Vehicles on these roads tend to be traveling at higher rates of speed, making it more difficult for them to avoid accidents and raising the level of force if an accident does occur. Likewise, in these settings, drivers often do not expect to encounter pedestrians, and thus, their reactions may be slower than usual. In many cases, a pedestrian who finds himself crossing an interstate or walking along an interstate may be found negligent. Whether that person is fixing a car, responding to an accident, or just walking down the side of the road, his behavior can serve as a bar to him recovering damages if a driver happens to hit him. As with all cases, the state in question and the actual behavior of the pedestrian has a major impact on the outcome of the case.
Many drivers and pedestrians have found that it’s possible to file a lawsuit against whatever state or federal agency is responsible for designing, constructing, or maintaining the highway in question. These agencies also have their own duty of care, and when they fail to act reasonably, their failure can put people in danger. Many individuals successfully recover damages from these agencies when problems in the agency lead to pedestrian accidents.