Pedestrians suffer most than motorists in car-pedestrian accidents. In other words, car accidents involving pedestrians result in injuries to pedestrians and little to no damage to the car and its occupants. That said, pedestrians are undoubtedly vulnerable when on the road.
Although pedestrians suffer most, it doesn’t mean motorists are always at fault in car-pedestrian accidents––liability isn’t always clear-cut. On the other hand, liability isn’t always easy to prove in a car accident and that’s why most people contact car accident lawyers in Bakersfield. So, how do you determine fault in a car accident?
Determining Fault in a Pedestrian-Car Accident Case
Sometimes motorists are clearly at fault for hitting pedestrians but it’s not always the case. Some of the reasons why motorists cause pedestrian accidents can include:
· Running a traffic light;
· Failing to give way at a crosswalk,
· Drunk driving;
· Over speeding;
· Indiscipline and impatience.
Arguably, pedestrians have a better chance of avoiding a car crash compared to car drivers because car-pedestrian accidents happen on the roadway majority of the time. Also, pedestrians can reduce the number of car-pedestrian accidents if only they never walked so near roadways. Most people become victims of these types of accidents because of negligence. So, do you sort the mess from a legal standpoint?
Car-pedestrian accidents are sorted through personal injury law, which states that the injured person should be compensated by the at-fault motorist for their loss. However, the law of negligence comes to play when determining fault in car accidents involving pedestrians.
Duty of Care
In personal injury law, everyone is expected to exercise a reasonable standard of care under certain circumstances. For instance, motorists and pedestrians are required to observe traffic laws and adhere to “rules of the road”. If either party fails to act reasonably and their actions end up causing harm to others, they are considered to have neglected their duty of standard care––that’s how the term “negligence” comes up. Likewise, a motorist will be liable for an accident if they engage in acts that are likely to cause accidents, such as overspeeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, and others.
If a car driver has ample time to avoid hitting a passenger, and they end up crashing into something else, such as a car, instead of hitting the pedestrian, the pedestrian is considered liable for the accident and should therefore compensate the motorist.
Shared Fault in Car–Pedestrian Accidents
Sometimes both the motorist and pedestrian share fault for a car accident. For instance, shared fault can occur when an accident occurs when the pedestrian is jaywalking and the driver is overspeeding. Both parties (motorist and pedestrian) were negligent, to begin with. The outcome of an injury claim where there’s shared fault can vary by state because some states use contributory negligence law while others use the comparative negligence law.
1. Contributory Negligence
Many states no longer subscribe to this system of determining negligence in injury cases. Under contributory negligence, a plaintiff can only recover damages from the defendant if they didn’t contribute to causing the accident. In other words, you cannot receive damages from the other party if you contributed to the accident, even if your contribution is 1%.
The contributory negligence only applies in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. In the District of Columbia section 50-2204.52, you can sue a motorist after a car-pedestrian accident, as long as your responsibility for the accident is 50 percent or less.
2. Comparative Negligence
Under comparative negligence, a degree of fault is allocated to all parties involved in an accident. This principle reduces the liability of the defendant but doesn’t eliminate it if the plaintiff is partially at fault for an accident. The comparative negligence system has two variations, including:
I. Pure Comparative Negligence
Under pure comparative negligence, liability is based on the degree of contribution to the accident. For instance, if a pedestrian is found to be 30 percent responsible then the driver will be 70 percent responsible. If the pedestrian’s claim is worth $10,000, they will be able to receive $7,000 from the driver in damages.
II. Modified Comparative Negligence
Under the modified comparative negligence principle, the plaintiff cannot be compensated if their degree of fault is 50% or more. In other words, you cannot be compensated if your contribution to a car-pedestrian accident is 50% or more.
Pedestrian-Car Accident Damages
In the context of personal injury law, damages refer to compensable losses. Victims of car-pedestrian accidents can recover the following damages from the at-fault party (pedestrian or motorist):
- Medical expenses (current and future);
- Lost wages and earning opportunities;
- Loss of consortium;
- Pain and suffering, and others.
Motorists are not always at-fault for all car-pedestrian accidents. So if you’re a motorist who has recently been involved in such an accident, you should seek an expert opinion from a legal professional.