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Pedestrian Liability In Vehicular Accidents

Accidents between a pedestrian and a car can be some of the most dangerous kinds of vehicular incidents in terms of the possibility for serious personal injury or death.  The weight and momentum of a vehicle, combined with the lack of protection inherent to being a pedestrian makes it so that even a low speed collision can cause grievous injuries to the people involved.  Because of the graphic nature of these sorts of accidents, when they happen it will usually result in a lot of media attention and commentary, and the uninformed opinions that are often propounded upon by members of the news media has led to a major misunderstanding about the way liability in this kind of incident falls among the general public: the belief that in an incident involving a car and a pedestrian the driver of the car is always at fault.  This misinformation in turn has led to many incidents where pedestrians act less carefully than they should.

Overall Liability

Everyone who uses the public roads, regardless of if they are a driver, on foot, or riding a bicycle, skateboard, or other means of self-powered transportation, will be held to the same standard of care under the law: to act as a reasonably prudent person.  The idea that an auto-pedestrian accident is always the driver’s fault comes from a misunderstanding  of the “reasonably prudent” standard—that what is “reasonably prudent” for the driver of a vehicle involves a lot more attention and care than what is “reasonably prudent” for a pedestrian.  A person driving a car can obviously cause a lot more harm than a person who is on foot, so a driver in a car is expected to be more vigilant than a person on foot needs to be.

Pedestrians, however, must still obey any relevant traffic laws in the same way that a person in a car does, and any individual pedestrian must exercise the same amount of caution as a normal person walking by a road would.  Unfortunately, not every person chooses to conduct themselves with the average amount of prudence: many collisions between a car and a pedestrian actually occur inside of the roadway, a place that the pedestrian made a conscious decision to enter.

Pedestrian Liability

Understanding this, it makes sense that a pedestrian can be held liable by the courts if their negligence is the cause of an accident, and that the driver of a car in this situation, as well as the driver’s insurance company, can pursue legal action against the pedestrian or their insurance companies in order to recover expenses that were incurred because of the pedestrian’s negligence.

A driver in the position of trying to receive compensation for damages in these circumstances, however, needs to be aware that insurance companies are often reluctant to attempt to recover from a negligent pedestrian, especially if they were seriously injured.  This can make it where if the driver’s losses will not be fully covered by their own insurance, or if they have a high deductible under the terms of their policy, it can be in their best interest to attempt to seek redress through litigation instead.  Typically when someone files a claim with their insurance they have to sign over their rights to seek recovery themselves to the insurance company, called subrogation, at which point they will no longer be able to sue for any uncompensated losses.  Because of this, in a matter that involves significant losses a driver should speak with an experienced attorney before they file an insurance claim to make sure that they properly protect their interests.

Reach Out to Us for Help

If you or someone you know has been in an auto accident, the legal team at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. is here to help.  Contact us today by telephone at 305-371-3111 or online to discuss your situation, and learn how we can make sure that your best interests are protected.

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