Pedestrian Liability: Is the Accident Actually Your Fault?
You’ve heard the expression, “the pedestrian has the right of way.” This phrase leads many people to think that regardless of the events leading up to an accident, the driver is always at fault for a pedestrian accident. This is not always the case.
It is not uncommon for the pedestrian to either share liability for the accident with the driver or to be wholly responsible.
As a driver who has struck a pedestrian, you need to know that you may not be the party-at-fault. Determining fault is a complex process and we encourage you to not give up hope just yet.
In this article, we will walk you through what you should do immediately after an accident, how fault is determined, and give you tips on preparing your case.
What To Do Immediately After A Pedestrian Accident
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If you strike a pedestrian with your vehicle, it is important to breathe, stay calm, and take these steps:
- Stop your vehicle. DO NOT leave the scene of the accident. Doing so will multiply your penalties and will almost certainly incur jail time of between 5 and 20 years. Pull over, put on your hazard lights, and turn off your car.
- Call 911. Get emergency services in motion. Even if the pedestrian is okay, make sure the police come and write up a report of the accident.
- Help the pedestrian. If they can walk, help them move out of the street. Check them for injuries. Help where you can, providing first aid or CPR if necessary.
- Collect witnesses. If anyone saw the accident or stopped to help, make sure you get their contact information and have them stay to give their reports to the police.
- Exchange information. If the pedestrian is able, exchange information with them. This includes names, insurance information, and phone numbers.
- Cooperate with law enforcement. Make sure the police write a report of the accident and that witnesses and your side of the story are included.
- Photograph the scene. Take pictures of any injuries, damages to your vehicle, and the area involved in the accident.
- DO NOT admit fault. Don’t say anything that could be construed as evidence of fault. This includes saying things like “I’m sorry” or, “I didn’t see you.” Don’t apologize. Be very careful about what you say. After the accident, don’t discuss the details of the collision with anyone, not even your own insurance company. Make sure you speak with an attorney before sharing any details of the accident.
- Contact an attorney. Find a reputable and experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. They will let you know what information is safe to share with the insurance companies and will help you prepare your defense should the pedestrian sue.
- Don’t agree to a settlement without authorization from your attorney. Determining fault in a case like this is complex. Don’t accept any settlements until you’ve had an experienced attorney make sure your interests are being looked after.
Determining Liability in A Pedestrian Accident
Liability is usually determined by the law of negligence. Basically, this means that liability for the accident will be determined by figuring out which party was careful and which one was careless. The careless party will be designated “negligent” and will then be considered at-fault for the accident.
A pedestrian is demonstrating a lack of care if they jaywalk or cross an intersection diagonally.
If you’re lucky, determining fault in your accident will be easy. For example, if the pedestrian was walking drunk and ran out in front of your car, causing you to hit them, then it shouldn’t be too hard to demonstrate that it was the pedestrian who was negligent and caused the accident.
Pedestrian liability is often increased if the pedestrian did one or more of these actions:
- Entered a street while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
- Was walking along a bridge or highway where pedestrians are prohibited.
- Jaywalked or was walking outside of a crosswalk when they were struck.
- Crossed an intersection against a red traffic signal.
Most of the time though, pedestrian liability won’t be so clear, and more often than not both the driver and pedestrian contributed to an accident.
What happens when both parties share liability? Washington State uses a system called “comparative fault” to assign a percentage of blame to each party.
An Introduction To Comparative Fault
Washington State’s version of comparative fault is different from other states in that Washington implements a “pure” comparative fault rule. Basically, this means that no matter how large of a percentage of the blame is yours (as long as it’s not 100%), you are still allowed to file an action against the other party.
Comparative fault is beneficial for you even if you are assigned the majority of the blame. In a situation like this, it is still advantageous to pursue an action against the pedestrian.
For example, if you’ve incurred $10,000 in property damage from the accident, but are found to be 80% liable for the collision, you can still recover $2,000 (20% of the $10,000), which — while it doesn’t fix everything — will go a long way towards your vehicle repairs.
Find An Expert Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today
Don’t be intimidated by popular opinion and the adage that “the pedestrian always has the right of way.” If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident and you believe that the pedestrian bears some blame for the collision, contact The Jones Firm Today.
Our expert legal team will help you prove that the pedestrian was negligent and we will also protect you from any civil claims the pedestrian may attempt.
We have a proven track record of defending vehicle drivers and build fortified cases that demonstrate pedestrian liability. Secure your future. Contact The Jones Firm Today.