Most of us have heard the old adage, “pedestrians always have the right away.” It’s probably one of the reasons why when a car accident involves a pedestrian, we usually jump to the conclusion that the driver was at fault and will bear the responsibility of any damages. On many occasions that is the right conclusion, but there are many instances when pedestrians can be at least partially or even wholly responsible for a car accident.
In these cases it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the pedestrian, but the driver must then also prove that the pedestrian was negligent.
Common Causes of Vehicle/Pedestrian Accidents
Every year there are thousands of accidents involving pedestrians, resulting in over 84,000 pedestrian injuries and 5,000 fatalities. These types of accidents are probably more common than you think, accounting for approximately 11 percent of all vehicle accidents. Most of these accidents occur in the late afternoon or evening, when it is more difficult for drivers to spot pedestrians, and in urban areas, especially intersections, where more pedestrians are present.
Vehicle-pedestrian accidents, like all other accidents, occur for a number of reasons. A majority of vehicle-pedestrian accidents are, in fact, caused by negligent drivers, exhibiting these behaviors:
- Speeding or other reckless driving;
- Cell phone usage, texting;
- Improper lane use;
- Neglecting to check blind spots; and
- Substance abuse.
However, there are other instances when pedestrians may share fault in an accident. Here are some scenarios where the pedestrian could be considered at fault:
- Pedestrian was using electronics – It isn’t just drivers who are distracted by cell phones and other electronic devices. Pedestrians may fail to look for oncoming cars if they are using their smartphone or listening to music. A study in New York found that in eight percent of pedestrian accidents involving vehicles, the pedestrian was using electronics.
- Pedestrian fails to exercise reasonable care – Pedestrians, like drivers, must follow the rules of the road. If a pedestrian fails to exercise reasonable care, including crossing against a traffic signal, walking in prohibited areas, or jaywalking, they could be liable.
- Being impaired – Just as drunk drivers are more likely to be in an accident, so too are drunk pedestrians. Between 2012 and 2013, a full 34 percent of pedestrians killed in car accidents were intoxicated.
Recovering Damages From A Pedestrian
In Missouri pure comparative fault is used when handling car accident claims. This means any party involved in the accident can collect damages for up to the amount they were not responsible for the accident. This holds true for pedestrians. For instance, in a car accident where the pedestrian was 45 percent at fault, the driver could collect 55 percent of the damages from the pedestrian.
There are, however, certain complications when it comes to collecting damages from a pedestrian. If the pedestrian was heavily injured, for instance, the driver will often encounter difficulty convincing insurers it was the pedestrian’s fault. In many cases, filing a claim with your own insurance may lead to a larger settlement amount than trying to sue the pedestrian. Because of these complications, if you are a Kansas City, Missouri driver who has been in an accident involving a pedestrian, you should contact Krause and Kinsman Law Firm. Our skilled car accident injury attorneys in Kansas City will look at the specifics of your case and help you determine the best action to take. Call today!
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.