Is The Driver Always At Fault In Car vs. Pedestrian Accidents?
Drivers must always be cautious and alert while behind the wheel, especially when driving in areas where pedestrians might be present. It is the responsibility of every driver to exercise reasonable caution while operating a motor vehicle, but there are occasions where even the most cautious driver is unable to avoid an accident. If there is an accident involving a car and a pedestrian, is the driver always at fault? Even in the cases of a car-pedestrian accident, the pedestrian is not always faultless. A pedestrian can be found at fault in a car-pedestrian collision, depending on their behavior.
Duty of Care
When operating a vehicle, drivers are responsible for driving with the appropriate amount of care in any given circumstance. This is referred to as a duty of reasonable care or due care. The law recognizes that not all circumstances are the same. Therefore, the duty of reasonable care requires that a driver exercises the caution that a normal, careful person would use in the same situation. A normal person slows down and pays close attention when they are aware that pedestrians are nearby or may be nearby. This responsibility supercedes other laws like the speed limit; if a driver saw a child on a bicycle, for example, the law would not consider it reasonable to maintain the 30 MPH speed limit, and the driver would likely be considered at fault should a collision occur.
Duty of care is at the center of many personal injury lawsuits. In the case of a collision, the plaintiff is trying to prove that the damages they have suffered were caused because the driver breached their duty of care. But pedestrians are also expected to act in a reasonable manner to avoid traffic accidents, or they might be found at fault in a collision.
Accidents caused by pedestrians
A reasonable driver would take any possible precaution to avoid hitting a pedestrian. However, sometimes pedestrians behave in a way that makes it impossible for even a cautious driver to avoid a collision. For example, a pedestrian might dart out from between parked cars right in front of a moving car or walk on a busy street at night while wearing dark clothes. It is unlikely that even someone driving very cautiously would be able to avoid a collision given the circumstances. In this instance, the court will find that the pedestrian caused the accident.
If a pedestrian acting in this manner forced a driver to take evasive action resulting in injury or damage to another vehicle, the pedestrian may also be found liable for those damages. For example, if in one of the above scenarios the driver swerved at the last second to avoid hitting the pedestrian and struck another car, the pedestrian would be considered at fault and liable for damage to both vehicles and any injury to the occupants of the cars.
In many situations, there is not an entirely guilty party and an entirely innocent party, and collisions involving drivers and pedestrians are the same. When this is the case, the jury will determine what percentage of fault the plaintiff bears for their own injuries and what percentage of fault is on the driver. The impact that this determination has on the lawsuit varies by state. In some states, if the jury determines that the pedestrian is 60% responsible for the accident and the driver is 40% responsible, the driver is required to pay 40% of the damages related to the accident. In other states, the driver would not be required to pay anything in this scenario since the pedestrian was judged to be more than 50% responsible for the collision.
Pedestrian Liability in Car Accidents
It is important for both drivers and pedestrians to be alert and exercise due caution. Though drivers have a duty of reasonable care when operating a vehicle, pedestrians are not immune from fault. The driver is not always at fault in a collision between a car and a pedestrian. Pedestrians who behave in a way that would make it almost impossible for a driver exercising appropriate caution to avoid a collision can be found at fault for the accident. If you are facing a personal injury lawsuit and you believe the pedestrian is at fault or shares the fault for the collision, do not hesitate to seek legal representation from an experienced Conyers personal injury lawyer.