Under the law, a pedestrian is anyone traveling along a sidewalk or roadway without a vehicle. Usually this means people on foot, like joggers, students walking to school, or anyone simply out for a walk. This also includes small children on toys like a scooter or tricycle as well as people in wheelchairs. Basically, anyone in the road or alongside it without a motorized vehicle is a pedestrian.
Unfortunately, this can often lead to pedestrian accidents, which can be extremely dangerous. These accidents tend to be more serious than other types of accidents because a car can do so much damage to an unprotected person, even if it is moving slowly. Nearly all pedestrian accidents will result in injuries and many unfortunately result in death. Children are especially at risk in pedestrian accidents, as they are more likely to be unnoticed by a driver and the injuries they sustain are usually much more life threatening.
The law treats pedestrian accidents the same way it treats car-on-car collisions. The victims in the accident have a right to recover the full cost of their medical bills and any other damages. The insurance companies will work to determine who was at fault for the accident, and the person at fault, or their insurance, will be liable for the injuries they caused.
In a Pedestrian Accident, who is at fault?
Even though pedestrians are always supposed to have the right of way, that doesn’t mean they can never be liable for the fault of an accident. Pedestrians who cross the road illegally or run out suddenly without warning may share some or all of the fault for the accident—even if they are the ones who got sustained the worst injuries. Many pedestrian accidents also involve cell phone distractions, either on the part of the driver, the pedestrian, or both.
Sidewalks are not necessarily a factor in assigning fault in a pedestrian accident. Every town in Washington has roads where there are no sidewalks, but in most cases it is still legal for a pedestrian to walk along the side of the road—or even out in the road in some cases. The specifics of who is at fault depend on what happened, whether there were sidewalks and marked crosswalks available, and how careful each party was being.
What if the pedestrian is at fault for the accident?
If the pedestrian is determined to be at fault, they could be liable for any damages done to the car, however this is rare. In most pedestrian cases, the driver is found to have at least partial responsibility for the accident, because drivers have a duty to be watchful and yield to pedestrians.
Bicycle accidents are often treated similarly to pedestrian accidents but, unlike pedestrians, bicyclists are supposed to follow many of the same traffic laws that cars follow. If you or a loved one were involved in any kind of pedestrian accident, either as the pedestrian or the driver, you should speak to a good personal injury lawyer right away and discuss your legal options.
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