When a Pedestrian Is at Fault in an Auto Accident

It is a common misconception that pedestrians can never be found at fault in an auto accident. In America, pedestrians have automatic right-of-way, meaning that drivers have to let pedestrians move in front of or around them. Because of this compulsory pedestrian right-of-way, many people assume that the driver will always be found at fault in the event of a collision or other accident involving a pedestrian.

Demonstrating Negligence 

Regardless of the individual circumstances of an accident, determining who is at fault usually comes down to a simple question: did anyone involved clearly and intentionally neglect the rules of the road? For a driver, this could include running a stop sign or red light, making an illegal U-turn or ignoring a pedestrian crosswalk. Any of these actions could result in hitting a pedestrian, and each of these would show clear negligence on the part of the driver.

However, the responsibility to follow the rules of the roads falls on pedestrians as well; the idea of running out in front of a car in order to automatically receive damages is a myth. Any of these actions would demonstrate that the pedestrian was neglecting the rules of the road:

  • Crossing outside of a crosswalk.
  • Ignoring crosswalk lights and walking into oncoming traffic.
  • Failing to look before crossing the street. 
  • Crossing highways or busy roads without traffic lights. 
  • Walking along highways or other areas where pedestrians are not legally permitted. 

Being a pedestrian does not shield you from all responsibility for an accident, and you could be found at fault and be forced to pay damages, depending on the nature of the accident and any resulting injuries.

When Both Are at Fault 

Sometimes accidents aren’t as clear-cut as a pedestrian running into oncoming traffic or a driver ignoring a stop sign. IF law enforcement officials find that both are at fault in some way, then the resulting damages depend on what state the accident happened in. States follow one of two rules in the event of shared fault accidents:

  • Comparative negligence: If the driver and pedestrian share the blame, then the pedestrian’s damages are reduced by a percentage equal to their percentage of the blame. Most states follow this rule.
  • Contributory negligence: In the event of a shared-fault accident, the pedestrian becomes ineligible to receive damages, regardless of the percentage of the blame. 

In the event of a pedestrian accident, it is essential to contact a personal injury attorney, like from Trapp Law Firm, and find out if you have a case, and which rule your state follows.