As drivers, we are all taught to always try to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians to preserve their safety. After all, pedestrians are afforded virtually no protection from catastrophic injuries in a pedestrian accident that will probably leave the driver unharmed. Does yielding to pedestrians mean that pedestrians cannot be to blame for an accident, though?
In a pedestrian accident, just as with any other type of auto accident, liability is assigned based on the wrongdoing each party did to contribute to the accident. When a pedestrian acts with negligence and gets hit by a car because of it, they can be at-fault – partially or totally – for the accident and their injuries, even with their perennial right-of-way.
Pedestrians Must Obey the Rules of the Road, Too
Vehicle traffic and foot traffic alike must obey the rules of the road. It is when someone disobeys those rules or otherwise acts recklessly that they can become liable for an accident, whether they were a motorist or a pedestrian.
All pedestrians are expected to take reasonable precautions when walking near traffic, using a crosswalk, or navigating a parking lot. When a pedestrian acts with an unacceptable disregard for the rules of the road or someone’s safety, including their own, they can cause an accident and later be assigned most or all of the liability for the resulting damages.
Consider two fairly straightforward examples of pedestrian accidents with different liability assignments:
- Example 1: A driver fails to stop at a stop sign intersection and strikes a pedestrian who had been crossing the street. Liability would most likely be assigned entirely to the driver because the pedestrian was using the crosswalk as expected but the driver ignored the stop sign.
- Example 2: A pedestrian decides to cross the street without a crosswalk, steps out from behind a van parked at the curb, and is struck by an oncoming vehicle. Liability would most likely be assigned entirely to the pedestrian for not using a crosswalk, not checking for oncoming traffic, and not even crossing at a point in the road where oncoming vehicles would be more likely to see them.
Negligence & Liability in a Pedestrian Accident
Most pedestrian accident cases will not be as straightforward as the two above examples, though. In many situations, who is to blame is unclear until ample evidence is investigated. Even then, the final result could very well be a mix of negligence caused by the driver and the pedestrian calls for a mix of liability.
Georgia and a few other states use a “modified negligence rule” to split liability in an accident case. With this rule, a plaintiff cannot recover any damages from the defendant if they are found to be at least 51% liable for their accident.
For another example, a pedestrian dashes into the crosswalk suddenly and without looking before being hit by a car. They were using the crosswalk and motorists are expected to exercise reasonable caution when driving near foot traffic, but the abruptness of their action made it almost impossible for the driver to react in time. In this situation, the pedestrian is assigned 60% liability for the accident, which means they cannot file a claim against the driver.
If you need help figuring out if you can file a claim against a motorist after being hurt in a pedestrian accident in Georgia, call (478) 449-0137. Adams, Jordan & Herrington, P.C. in Macon has more than 120 years of combined experience handling complex injury claims, including pedestrian accidents with unclear liability.