Your Rights as a Pedestrian When You Are Struck by a Vehicle

David W. Hodges
David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.

When we get our drivers' licenses, we learn how to become safe motorists, but it's just as important to be aware of the rules of the road as pedestrians. Pedestrian Crossing SignAccording to a 2013 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents that year in the United States. This averages to an astonishing one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours.

Additionally, more than 150,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal injuries related to collisions with motor vehicles. The frightening truth is pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than vehicle passengers to die when involved in vehicle collisions. Unfortunately, when pedestrians are able to survive their injuries, they're often left with massive medical bills for the rest of their lives.

Why Fault Matters in Pedestrian Accidents

No matter how careful a pedestrian is, he or she can still suffer serious injuries when crossing the road. Distracted driving is full of risks, and these drivers, as well as those under the influence of drugs or alcohol, can easily strike pedestrians, as can motorists who are driving recklessly.

However, the driver isn’t always to blame when it comes to a pedestrian vs. vehicle collision, and a pedestrian’s rights after an accident depend on who was at fault. Pedestrians typically have the right-of-way, but they can be found negligent and at fault for an accident by:

  • Darting in front of a vehicle
  • Entering traffic and disrupting the flow
  • Ignoring the “walk” signal at an intersection
  • Failing to use marked crosswalks

Pedestrians must exercise reasonable care, or “duty of care,” for their own safety. If they're struck by a driver, they can be to blame for the crash if they didn’t exercise this duty. In cases when the pedestrian is found negligent, they may not be entitled to any rights or compensation, since they were to blame for the accident. However, if they're able to prove that the driver was the cause of the accident, they typically have many different rights.

When the Driver is to Blame for the Accident

Just like pedestrians, drivers are also held to a “duty of care.” This means that they must exercise reasonable care while driving. If they don’t, they could be found negligent. Common examples of negligent driving include:

  • Failing to signal while turning
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Disobeying traffic signs or signals
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at signals

The first step to take immediately after an accident is to call the police and file a report. The next step is to go to the emergency room and seek treatment. Both of these actions are vital to supporting your case for compensation.

If you're able to prove that the driver was at fault in the accident, you can likely seek compensation for current and future medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. In order to prove the driver was at fault, the plaintiff must show that the defendant:

  • Owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances.
  • Failed to fulfill that legal duty through action or inaction.
  • Caused an accident or injury to the plaintiff.
  • Harmed or injured the plaintiff as a result.

In a perfect world, every driver who hits a pedestrian would stop and exchange information with the pedestrian and offer assistance if needed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. When a pedestrian is the victim of a hit-and-run, he or she doesn’t have as many options as someone who was involved in an accident in which the identity of the driver is known does. Instead of seeking compensation through the driver’s insurance company, the victim needs to utilize his or her own insurance to help pay for medical treatment. If the driver is found at a later date, you may be able to seek compensation with the help of a personal injury attorney to cover current and future medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Get the Help You Deserve

The attorneys of Kennedy Hodges, LLP have helped many pedestrians receive the compensation they were entitled to after they were hurt by negligent drivers, and may be able to do the same for you. Call 855-947-0707 to schedule an appointment to speak to an attorney about your situation.