Unfortunately, every year thousands of people are injured or killed in pedestrian-meets-car accidents. Of course, the pedestrians involved often have a much worse time than those behind the wheel of the motor vehicles because they don’t have the protection of bulky steel frames and reinforced plastic to protect them. Is the pedestrian ever at fault in one of these incidents?
In most cases, though, the legal aftermath of such an accident will favor the pedestrian. Is the pedestrian ever at fault? In the majority of cases, the driver of the vehicle is found to be at fault, but that is not always the case.
As a driver, there are certain legal responsibilities that one is expected to realize. When pedestrians are present, or likely to be present, most of us believe that it is the duty of the driver to be extra vigilant, to maintain a very slow and manageable speed, and to yield the right-of-way to those on foot.
Of course, not all pedestrian accidents can be prevented by drivers. While most St. Petersburg drivers would go to great lengths to avoid hitting a person, there are times when collisions simply can’t be avoided. When a pedestrian does not take care to make himself or herself visible to a driver, or when his or her actions couldn’t have been predicted by the driver, the pedestrian may be held accountable. Consider this fictional case study, for instance.
- Upon entering the busy main street of a small town, outside Saint Petersburg, a driver slows his car to the posted 25 miles per hour. He stops the designated distance from the crosswalk to allow pedestrians to cross and then carefully proceeds. At the last minute, a person decides to make a run for the other side of the road. Unfortunately, the driver of the car couldn’t see the person, who was waiting between two parked cars. He doesn’t have time to stop the car, or even slow down, before hitting the pedestrian who had darted out into the street.
In circumstances like these, the driver will not be held accountable. He was acting with due diligence and couldn’t have reacted quickly enough to avoid the impact, even if the person hadn’t been hidden from view before running out.
Not all cases, however, are clear-cut.
- The same driver, upon passing the crosswalk, considers himself out of harm’s way, and begins to accelerate. He sees other pedestrians crossing the road outside of the crosswalk but accelerates to twelve miles per hour over the town’s posted speed limit, he sees a pedestrian try to cross the street but has not given himself enough time to stop.
In this case, the driver was clearly speeding, but the pedestrian didn’t use the crosswalk and walked out in front of his moving vehicle. While the pedestrian certainly carries some of the blame, the injuries suffered may have been significantly less severe if the driver had been traveling at a more reasonable speed. That means they will likely share fault in the accident and may have to split the cost of any damages suffered, depending on the percentage of fault assessed to each. It also likely means that the injured pedestrian will need the assistance of a personal injury attorney.