When Is a Pedestrian at Fault for a Car Accident?

April 11, 2022Car Accidents

Depending on the circumstances, there are times when a pedestrian can be entirely or partially at fault for a car accident. In Missouri, fault is determined by a party’s degree of negligence.

When a Pedestrian is At Fault

Pedestrians do not always have the right of way, and they are responsible for exercising a reasonable degree of care to protect themselves. For example, they must use available crosswalks and obey walk signals. If a pedestrian were to cause an accident due to jaywalking or ignoring a do not walk signal, their negligence could result in them being completely or at least partially at fault. The leading causes of car accidents when a pedestrian is at fault include:

  • Ignoring traffic light signals
  • Walking outside of a crosswalk
  • Walking on the road rather than on a sidewalk
  • Darting out in front of traffic
  • Jaywalking
  • Intoxication

Missouri courts operate under a pure comparative fault system. Under this law, each party involved in an accident is assigned a percentage of fault, and their compensation is reduced accordingly. As a result, all parties involved in a collision often hold part of the blame. For example, let’s say a pedestrian is found 80 percent responsible because they were jaywalking, and the driver is 20 percent at fault because they were driving distracted and failed to stop for the jaywalking pedestrian even though they had time to do so. Each party’s compensation will then be reduced by their percentage of fault. If the jaywalking pedestrian is awarded $100,000, they will only receive 20 percent of their award or $20,000.

Driver Liability

Drivers are most often at fault for pedestrian accident cases. The reason is that they owe a higher duty of care to drive safely and avoid harming pedestrians. Motorists are required to follow traffic laws, pay attention, and use extreme caution in heavy pedestrian traffic zones. If any negligent action by the driver contributes to a pedestrian accident, they can be entirely or partially at fault. The leading causes of pedestrian accidents when a driver is to blame include:

  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian
  • Failure to slow down in school zones or heavy pedestrian traffic areas
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving (e.g., cell phone use, eating, adjusting the radio, talking to passengers, etc.)
  • Abrupt or illegal turns
  • Driving while intoxicated

A third party may also be at fault for a pedestrian accident in some cases. For example, a government agency may be responsible if a hazardous road condition contributed to the crash, such as an intersection design flaw, improper signage, or pothole. If the accident was due to a defective vehicle or part (e.g., brake or tire failure), the vehicle manufacturer might be liable.

How Fault is Determined in a Pedestrian Accident

Determining fault in a pedestrian accident case is often complex and challenging. It requires a thorough investigation of the following types of evidence.

Accident Scene Evidence

Photos and video of the accident, if available, and the scene that shows:

  • The final position of the vehicle after impact
  • Any damage to the vehicle
  • Any skid marks
  • Property damage to the surrounding area
  • Road signs and/or traffic lights
  • The pedestrian’s injuries
  • Road and weather conditions

An insurance adjuster will also typically examine the involved vehicle in person.

The Police Report

The police report can weigh heavily in an insurance adjuster’s decision on fault. It will include the officer’s opinion on how the accident occurred and the cause.

Eyewitness Statements

Statements from eyewitnesses can be critical since they are objective, third-party accounts of how the accident was caused.

Medical Records

Medical documentation can establish the extent of the injuries and that the collision caused them.

Speak to a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, discuss your legal options with a skilled St. Louis Pedestrian Accident Attorney in a free consultation today.

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