Can a Pedestrian be at Fault for a Car Accident?

Can a Pedestrian be at Fault for a Car Accident?

Pedestrian accidents can be devastating and life-altering events. When a pedestrian is in an accident with a vehicle, the consequences can be catastrophic. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a pedestrian accident, it is essential to seek legal help as soon as possible. An experienced Vero Beach pedestrian accident attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Specifically, they can determine who was at fault for your accident.

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Negligent Drivers are Usually to Blame

More often than not, drivers are the ones to blame for your pedestrian accident injuries. While a pedestrian might contribute to a collision, these situations are rare, and most accidents happen due to driver negligence.

Both drivers and pedestrians have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. When a driver is distracted, fails to yield, or violates another traffic law, they breach their duty of care and their insurance companies should be liable if the driver hits a pedestrian. However, most insurance companies will not pay a claim without a fight, and part of their fight often involves trying to blame the pedestrian.

You must hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to keep the insurance company from trying to shift responsibility onto you after an accident. The aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, and insurance companies may try to take advantage of your vulnerable state by pressuring you into giving a statement or tricking you into making an admission that undercuts your case.

Insurance companies can sink many pedestrian accident cases because of something the accident victim may have said when they were vulnerable. Having a skilled pedestrian accident attorney by your side can level the playing field and ensure you are treated fairly throughout the process.

The good news is that you do not have to give your pedestrian accident lawyer any money at the outset of your case to get them working on your claim. All you need to do is promise to pay them a percentage of the settlement or jury award you receive, should you qualify. You do not have to pay your attorney if you do not win your case. Thus, there are no financial barriers between you and the pedestrian accident attorney you need for your case. 

How Drivers Are Responsible for Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian at a crosswalk with a distracted driver approaching.

First, let us cover how drivers can be to blame for pedestrian accidents. These days, motorists are responsible for much more severe pedestrian incidents. Drivers have become more dangerous, especially over the last five years, and have fewer concerns for others on the road, whether drivers or pedestrians.

There was already a trend of drivers showing less respect for traffic laws, which was in place before the pandemic, and it only got worse when drivers did not have to share the roads with as many people as before. Even when traffic returned to the streets after the pandemic, drivers retained their bad habits. Unfortunately, pedestrians are the ones who pay the price the most because there is next to nothing to protect them from impact with a car.

Motorists Drive Larger Cars

The fact that cars tend to be bigger these days causes serious pedestrian accidents in several ways. Motorists opt for larger, bulkier pickup trucks that are much higher off the ground. When they have such a high vantage point, drivers cannot see pedestrians because they are no longer at eye level.

Studies show that 45 percent more pedestrian accidents involve larger cars with hoods more than 40 inches above the ground. Massive trucks, such as the Ford F-150 and the Dodge Ram, are tied to the spike in pedestrian accident fatalities. Also, large vehicles with flat grills instead of sloped hoods impair the driver's visibility and lead to more accidents.

Larger vehicles also lead to more severe pedestrian accidents. Trucks that are higher off the ground are more likely to strike a pedestrian in the head or torso area, causing a greater likelihood of death. The heavier vehicles will also cause accidents that have far more force.

Distracted Driving

Man driving a car in the city while using a smartphone.

Drivers also pay less attention to the road than they used to. To be clear, drivers, as a whole, need to be fully engaged with the roads and traffic around them. Eating or conversing can take a driver's attention away from their surroundings. The mobile device has also made things far more dangerous for people on the road. Now, drivers are looking down at their phones to send a text or to read information on the internet. Instead of scanning the road before them, they may focus on their infotainment system.

All it takes is a split second of distraction not to see a pedestrian trying to cross in front of the driver. It takes drivers a few moments to come to a complete stop, and missing the initial cue to apply the brakes can mean the driver does not recover in time to avoid a pedestrian accident.

Poorly Designed Roads

As urban areas grow, more pedestrians are out on the road, and people are encouraged to leave their cars behind to walk. Authorities must ensure safe spaces for pedestrians to cross and design the streets to maximize their safety. Instead, governments prioritize roadways that can move as many cars as efficiently as possible. Although the government pays lip service to pedestrian safety, there are few concrete measures to protect people from vehicles. Many governments announce some plans with catchy names to protect pedestrians but do not follow up with any action. The result is that pedestrians take their lives in their hands whenever they want to cross a busy road.

Poor Visibility or Weather

A majority of pedestrian accidents happen at night when drivers have less visibility. Nonetheless, it is a driver's obligation to keep watch and yield the right-of-way when required by law, regardless of the time of day. The same thing goes for rainy weather conditions.

Drivers must still do whatever they can to see pedestrians crossing the road and yield to them when necessary. Drivers cannot blame a crash on the weather because they are the ones who decide to be on the streets in those conditions. At the same time, blame cannot be shifted to the pedestrian just because they were walking when it was raining or dark.

Failure to Yield

The driver has the obligation to yield the right of way at marked (and sometimes unmarked) crosswalks. A motorist may not know the law and realize they must stop, or there may be a younger driver behind the wheel who lacks experience knowing when to stop. Alternatively, the driver knows the law but is not interested in stopping because it takes extra time.

It can be challenging to prove that the driver failed to yield the right of way. These circumstances are precisely when and where insurance companies will try to blame the pedestrian, claiming that they never had the right of way in the first place.

Insurance Companies Like to Blame Pedestrians

Even if the driver is to blame for the accident, insurance companies may try to shift some blame to the pedestrian because they have a financial incentive to engage in victim blaming. The amount that the insurance company needs to pay you depends on the distribution of fault in the accident. If the driver was 100 percent to blame for the accident, they (and their insurance company) must pay for all your damages. If there was a shared fault for the accident, the insurance company might get away with paying you less.

Everything depends on the laws of the state where you file the claim. In some states, you may be unable to receive anything if you bear even a portion of the responsibility for the accident. In other states, the amount you receive in compensation connects to the percentage of blame you bear for the accident. Thus, insurance companies will try to find a way to point a finger at you if they can, regardless of the actual reality of the situation.

Your Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Can Push Back Against Wrongful Blame

You do not have to accept the insurance companies' characterization of your accident. They are not a judge or a jury; instead, they are self-interested parties with financial motivations. Any dollar they must pay you comes from their own account, and that is the last thing they want. They know that your pedestrian accident case can be worth a lot of money, and they do not want to pay you everything you deserve because it can be a sizable financial hit for them.

In any pedestrian accident case, the facts can cause a debate between the two parties. Insurance companies may believe that the facts come out a certain way, and they make specific claims to undermine your own factual contentions. You have your version of the facts based on the evidence your lawyer has gathered.

You Can File a Lawsuit and Get an Unbiased Jury

If insurance companies persist in wrongfully blaming you for the accident, the case will be taken out of their hands entirely (if it ever was in their hands in the first place). The jury in court is ultimately the entity with the legal ability to hear evidence and determine the facts in your case. You only engage in the insurance claims process to resolve the dispute without litigation. Nothing says that you must file an insurance claim or settle your case if you do not get paid a fair amount.

If the insurance company insists on wrongfully blaming you for the accident, you have two legal options:

  • You can continue negotiating with the insurance companies to get them to raise their offer and cut back on the percentage of blame that they are trying to assign you.
  • You can file a lawsuit (or continue with the one you have already filed) and have the jury reach the final decision.

You Need a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Right After the Accident

Your lawyer's job is to always stand up for your legal rights. They will fight for you to get every dollar that you deserve after establishing that you have a right to compensation in the first place.

Your lawyer can gather the evidence you need to prove that the driver was at fault for the accident. They may use the following types of proof for your case:

  • Testimony from people who saw the accident
  • The police report (which is helpful for the insurance claim process)
  • Any evidence that your lawyer can gather in the lawsuit process, including deposition testimony from the driver and any other witnesses
  • Pictures from the scene of the accident
  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert
Lawyer shaking hands with client.

These sources of evidence can prove what you were doing if the insurance company questions your actions. As unfair as it seems, you may have to demonstrate that you were not to blame for the accident. Your lawyer must act as your defense attorney, brushing past or confronting allegations against you. If worse comes to worse, a jury will need to hear this evidence as it determines who was to blame for the accident and whether you bear a percentage of the responsibility.

A personal injury lawyer in Vero Beach can obtain the compensation you deserve. Medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages can significantly impact your life after a pedestrian accident. An attorney will work diligently to calculate the full extent of your damages and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation. Their experience in personal injury law allows them to understand the actual value of your claim and fight for your rights.

Pedestrian accidents can have devastating consequences, and it is crucial to seek legal representation to protect your rights. An attorney experienced in these types of accidents can guide you through the legal process, establish liability, and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Don't face the aftermath of an injury alone – consult a knowledgeable attorney who will advocate for your best interests and help you rebuild your life.

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