In most cases, it is the driver who is held responsible for almost any pedestrian vs. car accident — however, is the one behind the wheel really always at fault? Careful analysis shows that there are situations when the fault lies entirely with the pedestrian, as well as situations when both the driver and the pedestrian share the blame.
Special Attitudes Toward Drivers
The reason why drivers are usually viewed as the guilty party is simple: regardless of who is actually to blame, usually it is the pedestrian accident victim who is, well, a victim — at least in the sense of suffering physical injuries. As the driver has a greater potential to harm those around them, they are expected to exercise extra caution whenever pedestrians are present or are likely to be present.
The general principle in defining whether the driver is guilty of the accident or not is what is perceived as the responsible behavior of a normal, careful, and prudent person under the circumstances. For example, even if a driver moves at a humble speed of 25 miles per hour, they will still be liable for any potential accident if they see a child riding a bike ahead of them, simply because any careful and prudent person is expected to understand that children are unpredictable and it pays to be extra careful around them.
When Both Parties Hold Responsibility
Of course, each situation is unique and calls for individual analysis, and there are no clear-cut rules that would guarantee that, for example, a pedestrian crossing the road outside of a crosswalk would be found guilty in the case of an accident.
For example, in this case, pedestrians were crossing the street 20 meters away from an intersection, at night, wearing dark clothes, and during a heavy rainstorm. One would suppose that somebody this oblivious of personal safety would be held accountable for their own actions — but no, the judge decided that both parties were responsible for the accident. Yes, the pedestrians willingly placed themselves in an extremely dangerous position and failed to observe their surroundings, but the driver, having a greater potential of harming others, was still expected to keep a proper lookout and theoretically could have noticed the pedestrians even though they were outside of the crosswalk.
When Pedestrians Are At Fault
Yes, the driver is expected to do what any prudent and careful person would do in the situation at hand. However, simply being prudent is not always enough to avoid a collision, especially when the other party takes no precautions of their own. If a pedestrian suddenly runs into the street right in front of the moving car from behind another vehicle, for example, giving the driver no chance to see them beforehand, the driver isn’t going to be held liable for the collision.
This means that simply being a pedestrian doesn’t automatically mean that you are not guilty of what happens if you are hit by a car or get into another kind of accident. There are still factors that are likely to put you at fault, and if the court decides that it was your actions that created a dangerous situation on the road, you may be even held fully responsible for all the injuries.
The most important factors that put pedestrians at fault are crossing the street outside of a crosswalk or when the signal says not to cross, crossing while intoxicated, or crossing a highway or busy roadway.
We hope this information will help you understand your responsibilities on the road, both as a driver and as a pedestrian — and, with any luck, keep you out of harm’s way.
Featured photo credit: Wesley Soalheiro de souza/flickr.com via flickr.com