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When Can a Pedestrian Be at Fault?

Colburn Law

Many people subscribe to the notion that the pedestrian always has the right-of-way. While it is certainly true that pedestrians are much more vulnerable to injury due to the physics of car versus pedestrian accidents, and while drivers contribute to a great many pedestrian accidents, pedestrians are not immune to fault.

What Are Some Situations Where Pedestrians Are at Fault?

Drivers must take driver training classes, including written and practical tests to ensure they understand traffic signs and signals as well as the rules of the road. When drivers break the law, they often receive citations for failing to drive in a safe manner. Pedestrians, too, must adhere to the rules of the road.

Pedestrians must obey the same traffic signs and signals as drivers, and must also follow the rules of the road. If an accident occurs because a pedestrian broke the law, some of the fault lies with the pedestrian. There are multiple situations where pedestrians may share fault for a car versus pedestrian accident:

  • Failing to obey traffic signals. Drivers and pedestrians alike must obey traffic signals. If both parties adhere to the signals, the two may alternate and cross safely – pedestrians may assume cars will not enter the intersection during their attempt to cross, and drivers may assume there is no need to worry about pedestrians in the crosswalk while the driver can see a green light.However, if a pedestrian enters an intersection displaying a “Don’t Walk” light any accident caused is at least partially the fault of the pedestrian. In some cases, drivers acting negligently may assume partial fault as well.
  • Walking along roads that allow no foot traffic. Some roads and highways, particularly those with little or no shoulder, restrict foot traffic. Usually, signage appears along these roads, instructing pedestrians to stay away. Drivers on these roads do not expect pedestrian traffic, and may not have room to navigate and avoid striking pedestrians along the road.Although there are certain situations, such as breakdowns, that may necessitate pedestrians along busy highways, pedestrians must take care to stay away from the lanes of traffic. An accident caused by a pedestrian crossing a highway or walking too close to the lanes of traffic may result in fault assigned to the pedestrian.
  • Jaywalking. Jaywalking, or crossing a street at some point other than at an intersection or signal or crosswalk-controlled point, puts a pedestrian within a driver’s path. While drivers must take reasonable care not to strike pedestrians, they also do not expect pedestrians to appear in an area not designed for crossing.
  • Children entering the roadway. Children often enter roadways while chasing after balls, or simply because they are unaware of the road’s dangers. Parents must take reasonable care to prevent children from entering busy roadways. Regardless of the reason a child enters a roadway, if an accident occurs, caregivers may accept fault for failing to prevent the child from causing the accident.

What if You Caused an Accident?

If you experienced a car versus pedestrian accident in which you broke the rules of the road, you may need to accept partial fault. Depending on the circumstances, however, you may still receive partial compensation for any injuries if you can prove the driver’s actions contributed to the accident. Speak with a Seattle personal injury attorney to determine whether you should pursue a case.