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Frequently Asked Questions About Fault in a Pedestrian-Involved Car Accident

by Marie Caldwell

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, over 150,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms across America after being struck by a car. If you've recently been involved in a vehicle accident, and you were the driver who unintentionally struck a pedestrian, you might assume that because you were behind the wheel, you are automatically at fault.

However, before you concede, it's important to realize that there are instances where the pedestrian shares the blame for the accident, or could be deemed completely at fault. Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have concerning fault in a pedestrian-involved automobile accident:

Is a Pedestrian Every Completely at Fault for an Accident?

You've unintentionally struck a pedestrian, and assume that because you are the driver, you will be considered completely at fault for the accident. However, there are instances when the pedestrian might file a lawsuit, but they will actually be the party found at fault for the accident.

Here are a few instances when the court is more likely to deem the pedestrian responsible for an automobile accident:

  • A pedestrian who ignores the "walk" and "do not walk" signals
  • A pedestrian who runs out into traffic
  • A pedestrian who disrupts the flow of traffic
  • A pedestrian who doesn't use the crosswalk
  • A pedestrian who is walks into the street while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

If you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian, and you believe you are not at fault, it is critical to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. This includes interviewing witnesses of the crime, getting a copy of the police report and most importantly, hiring an attorney to help you through the process.

What Is Shared Fault?

There are other instances, however, when the fault cannot be established, or you will be asked to share fault with the pedestrian. Depending on the state in which you live, you will be bound by two different types of negligence: contributory negligence and comparative negligence.

The majority of states follow a form of comparative negligence laws. Basically, under this law, the amount of money an individual can collect from an accident is based upon how much they are found at fault for the accident. For example, if you strike a pedestrian who was running across the street and that person was found 50 percent responsible for the accident, you will only need to pay for 50 percent of the amount awarded in the settlement.

A handful of states still utilize contributory negligence laws. Under these laws, if the pedestrian is found responsible for the accident in any way, they are not eligible to receive compensation from the driver.

If you're not sure about the negligence laws in your state, don't hesitate to contact your attorney.

What About My Insurance?

After you've contacted your attorney, your next phone call should be to your insurance provider. Depending on the type of coverage you have, and the details of the accident, there are ways for you to pay for the cost to repair your vehicle.

If you have collision insurance, chances are this coverage will pay for any necessary repairs to your vehicle, after you pay your deductible. Most insurance policies also feature bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage will be critical if you are found at fault, or live in a comparative negligence state because it will pay for the damages awarded to the pedestrian injured in the accident.

Being the driver in a pedestrian-involved accident can be confusing and scary. If you are ever in this situation, don't hesitate to contact an attorney such as Carl L. Britt, Jr. for any questions you might have about your state's laws.