Accidents involving pedestrians can present unique liability issues. While pedestrians are normally not found at fault for an accident, they can be held partially responsible if there is evidence of contributory negligence.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians result in almost 5,000 fatalities and account for about 14% of all traffic fatalities. Fatality rates are highest for children, as well as adults over age 40.
An additional 75,000+ injuries per year can be attributed to crashes involving pedestrians. In every age group, males are significantly more likely to be injured than their female counterparts.
A driver only needs to be traveling 10 miles per hour to cause serious injuries to a pedestrian. At speeds of 30 miles per hour, the risk of a fatality increases dramatically.
Who Is Liable for Injuries?
In an accident involving a collision with a pedestrian, there are three potentially liable parties: the driver, the pedestrian, and the agency responsible for maintaining the road.
Drivers who hit a pedestrian can be found liable if they engaged in one of the following behaviors:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Failing to yield at a crosswalk
- Driving too fast for weather or traffic conditions
Pedestrians can be found partially liable for an accident if they neglected to demonstrate reasonable care for their safety. Examples of circumstances where a pedestrian might be found liable include:
- Failing to use marked crosswalks
- Ignoring walk signals at intersections
- Darting into the roadway
- Failing to account for the flow of traffic when crossing
- Erratic behavior due to drug and/or alcohol impairment
The government agency in charge of repairing and maintaining the road may be partially liable if there is evidence that faulty design or improper maintenance contributed to the accident. This liability most often factors in when the accident involves a pedestrian injured on a highway because he was pushing a broken vehicle out of the way or tending to people injured in a previous crash. In these cases, collisions can occur due to a lack of lighting and alternatives for avoiding the impact given the speed of traffic. Government agencies have a duty to exercise care toward anyone who would foreseeably use the road, even if they are not generally permitted access.
Special Considerations in Accidents Involving Children
The expectation for safe behavior varies according to the age of the pedestrian. Children ages 5 to 9 are statistically at the highest risk of being hit by a vehicle due to their impulsive nature and lack of ability to accurately assess danger.
Under the "tender years" doctrine, young children are legally recognized as being incapable of acting in a rational way to protect their safety and that of others. It's expected that adult drivers will take extra care to avoid children in the road and shoulder the responsibility for any accident that occurs.
The Benefit of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
In a car accident involving a pedestrian, it's possible for both parties to be at fault. This determination is made based on a number of factors, including police reports, applicable surveillance camera footage, witness testimony, type of damage to the vehicles involved, and the pedestrian's injuries.
Louisiana law allows partially at-fault drivers to collect damages in a personal injury suit, as long as their settlement is reduced by their assigned percentage of fault. However, since there is no set formula used to determine liability for an accident, hiring a personal injury to advocate for your interests can often result in a higher settlement. Your attorney can also handle all of the necessary paperwork relating to your case, leaving you free to focus on recovering from your injuries.
Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no upfront cost for legal assistance. Your attorney will accept a portion of the settlement you receive as a fee for his services.
To learn more, contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault’s experienced attorneys to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.