You’re driving and hit a pedestrian. Are you responsible for their injuries? Not necessarily. Learn why or why not in this post.
Some people think that pedestrians always have the right of way. If you’re driving and hit a pedestrian you’re in big trouble, the thinking goes.
But, that’s far from the case. As with any personal injury situation, you can be totally at fault, the pedestrian could be completely at fault, or you could have shared fault.
Take a look at a couple different situations where fault could lie on either side, and the law in Texas that helps determine fault:
- Both Drivers and Pedestrians Must Exercise “Reasonable Care”
The legal test for pedestrians is an objective one. This means that ideally, a typical person acts in a certain way in a given situation. This test applies to the pedestrian, regardless of what kind of person they really are. They could be low intelligence, high intelligence, or completely insane.
So, for example, it would be difficult for a pedestrian to say you were at fault if he or she walked through an intersection where you had a green light because they were messing around on their smartphone – assuming you weren’t breaking your own duty of care as a driver.
As a driver, you must also exercise a duty of care. If you drive distracted in any way, speed, don’t yield at a crosswalk, or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, you violate that duty of care. And when it comes to children ages 5 to 9, drivers have a higher duty of care because of children’s often unpredictable behavior. If you know, or should know, small children play in an area, you have a duty to exercise greater caution while driving in that area.
- What about Comparative Negligence?
Let’s say you were playing around on your smartphone while driving and you hit a pedestrian doing the same thing while walking through a “Don’t Walk” sign. Both of you were negligent and violated your duty of care.
What happens then? Well, this is where things get complicated. The final outcome of the case depends on the skill of your lawyer and the makeup of the jury.
Texas is a “modified comparative fault” state. This means that if you are found by a jury to be 51% responsible for your injuries or more, you cannot recover compensation. So if you were that pedestrian that got hit because of a distracted driver, but you also walked through a “Don’t Walk” sign, and the jury said you were 50% responsible for your injuries, you have the total amount you should have been awarded reduced by 50%. If that was originally $100,000, you would walk away with $50,000.
So who’s responsible? It all depends on the circumstances of your situation.
Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations to learn the facts of your case. So there’s no risk for you to talk to one to learn what the potential legal outcome of your case could be.