Can a Pedestrian Be At Fault in an Accident With a Car?

Car Accident Lawyer

In most cases, pedestrians have the right of way. Therefore, in an accident involving a pedestrian and an automobile, the driver of the car is usually at fault. However, in a few situations, the person on foot may be liable for the accident either fully or partially. Here are a few circumstances where the pedestrian may be at fault.

  • An intoxicated person walks onto a street into traffic.
  • A pedestrian crosses against a traffic signal or jaywalks.
  • Someone walks in an area where foot traffic is prohibited, such as along an interstate or on a bridge.

The determination of who is at fault for a pedestrian/vehicle accident largely determines what, if anything, either party can recover as compensation for injury or damages.

How Does Shared Responsibility Work in a Pedestrian Accident?

While a pedestrian may be liable for an accident involving a car, rarely is he or she completely responsible. The driver has some fault if he or she is driving too fast or distracted, for example. Courts in most states rely on two legal concepts to determine the outcome of these cases, contributory negligence, and comparative negligence.

Contributory negligence is an old system that is used only in Alabama, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. Under this system, if you have any fault in an accident, you cannot file a claim against anyone else who also has fault. For example, if an intoxicated person steps out into the street and is struck by a car exceeding the speed limit, both are at fault so neither can sue the other. Each party is simply responsible for his or her own damages.

Comparative negligence is the more common of the two concepts, and two types exist. Under the first, a pure comparative negligence rule, an injured person who bears some fault can sue another at-fault party, but any award is reduced by a percentage equal to the plaintiff’s share of responsibility for the accident. Using the same example under a comparative negligence system, a jury may decide that the intoxicated pedestrian is 50% at fault for the accident as is the speeding driver. Any award to the pedestrian would be reduced by half because of his or her responsibility.

The second type of comparative negligence system is the modified type. A modified comparative negligence system is used in a few states. Under modified rules, a plaintiff can collect damages from another at-fault party only as long as the plaintiff bears less than 50% of the responsibility.

Determining fault in a pedestrian accident can be a complex question. If you are facing such a situation, contact an experienced car accident lawyer in Philadelphia, PA to represent your interests.

Thanks to Wieand Law Firm, LLC for their insight into personal injury claims and car accidents with pedestrians.