When is a pedestrian at fault in a car accident?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | car accidents |

Everyone has been a pedestrian at some point in their life. You must have walked through and crossed California streets before you had the means to buy your first car.

But aside from those who travel on foot, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles also considers disabled individuals using assistive equipment, roller skaters and other people using means of transportation other than a motor vehicle or a bicycle as pedestrians.

Thus, given their vulnerable condition, pedestrians could sustain more significant injuries, even death, than the car’s driver and passengers during a collision. In fact, there was a 13% increase in pedestrian fatalities across the country from 2020 to 2021, killing 7,388 pedestrians.

But regardless of the severity of injuries, a pedestrian is not automatically free of blame. After all, road safety requires that all users behave the way any reasonable person would.

A pedestrian’s negligence

Despite the easy assumption that pedestrians always have the right of way, California laws do not exempt them from observing a duty of care on the road.

Their negligent actions could cause harm when they:

  • Fail to cross in the designated crosswalk area
  • Jaywalk or violate a traffic signal as they cross a roadway
  • Leave the sidewalk recklessly and suddenly run into the path of a moving vehicle, causing unnecessary traffic and not giving the driver enough time to react appropriately

Per the pure comparative negligence rule, liable pedestrians may still seek damages even if they are primarily at fault. They can prove that the driver is under the influence, speeding or distracted, making them partly responsible.

Safety is a two-way street

Each road user must exercise prudent behavior when sharing the road. Whether you are or have a loved one suffering from a tragic crash, you must know that these situations do not have default outcomes. It all comes down to how you build the unique facts of your case and identify if you hold some degree of liability.