According to National Highway Traffic Safety Association, nearly 5, 000 pedestrians are killed in car related accidents. Some of these accidents mostly occur when pedestrians cross the highway but thousands of others occur due to the driver’s negligence.
Driver negligence can be defined as a driver’s act or failure to act in a way that any reasonable person in a similar situation would in order to protect others from foreseeable risk. In order to establish negligence in a pedestrian accident, you must prove that the driver:
- Owed a legal duty to you given the situation
- Did not fulfill that duty through their actions or inactions
- Caused the accident involving you
- And injured you as a result
It’s not unusual to find that more than one person can be held liable for causing the accident. Depending on the situation, the people responsible for the accident can be:
- The parties responsible for maintaining the road
- The driver of the car
- Or you as the pedestrian
Basics of Pedestrian Car Accidents
Both pedestrians and drivers must follow and adhere to safety and rules of the road and they must exercise reasonable care. From a layman’s point of view, it might seem obvious who should be held responsible for the accident but the court loos at several factors before determining who should be held legally liable.
For example, we look at the driver’s duty of care. Drivers are required to exercise reasonable care while on the road. If they don’t do so and end up causing an accident, then we would consider that driver as negligent. A few of the most common factors that contribute to driver negligence include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Disregarding traffic and weather conditions
- Disobeying traffic signs
- Distracted driving e.g. texting while driving
We also look at the pedestrian’s duty of care. As a pedestrian, you are expected to exercise reasonable care for your own safety. You might be held accountable for your own injuries if you:
- Dart in front of a car
- Fail to use marked crosswalks
- Ignore the “walk” signal at an intersection
- Walk along highways, bridges and in other areas where pedestrian access is prohibited.
Sometimes there is what is known as “shared fault”. This is where both you and the driver bear some amount of blame for causing the accident. For example, if you were jaywalking and the driver hit you, chances are the driver was over speeding or was driving while distracted and could not stop in time.
What Happens When Both the Driver and Pedestrian are at Fault?
Different states have different rules in such cases so you will have to consult your Providence pedestrian accident attorney if you live in the area. Those rules, however, are based on one of two basic legal concepts: contributory and comparative negligence.
Most states apply the comparative negligence rule when the injured person is partially or fully responsible for causing the accident. Under comparative negligence, you can receive compensation from the driver who caused the accident but it will be reduced by a percentage that’s equal to your share of the fault.
For example, imagine a driver operating his car while drunk. You enter a street while texting on your cellphone. The driver hits and injures you. You sue the driver and the jury decides the driver was 65% at fault for the accident while you were 35% at fault.
Your medical bills and damages amount to $20, 000. Your damages award will be reduced to $13, 000 or the total award minus 35%, which accounts for your share of the fault.
There is also what is known as modified comparative negligence whereby you can collect damages from any other person who was responsible for your accident as long as you bear less than 50% of the blame for the accident.
You should, however, contact a Providence pedestrian accident attorney to find out which rule applies to you.
This rule is still applied in some states such as Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia and Alabama. It’s an old school system whereby if you are found partially responsible for the accident, you can’t file a liability claim against the driver. This means you will be responsible for your injuries and damages. You can file a claim through your insurance coverage but you can’t sue the person responsible for the accident.
Insurance Coverage and Car Pedestrian Accidents
After your accident, car insurance or health insurance coverage will cover medical expenses and other damages. As a personal injury victim, you have two options:
The driver’s car insurance coverage
If the driver was responsible for the accident, you can file a third party claim with their insurance company to cover costs of medical care, pain and suffering, loss of wages and future wages and other damages caused by the accident.
In most instances, your attorney will be able to negotiate on your behalf and settle the case outside the courtroom. Unfortunately, there are some instances where you might have to go to court because the insurance company and your attorney cannot seem to find a common ground. In order to protect your legal rights, we recommend that you talk to your attorney.
Your Own Insurance Coverage
You may need to turn to your insurance company to pay for damages and medical treatment especially if you were involved in a hit and run accident.
Car Pedestrian Accident and Criminal Liability
In some rare cases, a personal injury lawsuit or an insurance claim may not be the only consequence. In some cases, you may be allowed to press criminal charges.
For example, if the driver that hit you was driving under the influence, they might be charged with DUI. If they kill someone while driving under influence, they could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
If you want to learn more about your pedestrian accident case, contact one of our Providence pedestrian accident lawyers at Kevin P Landry law offices at 401-751-0101. You can also visit our offices or we can come to wherever you feel comfortable at your request. All our initial consultations are free.