Car vs. Pedestrian: When and How the Pedestrian Can Contribute to an Accident
When a pedestrian is hit by a car, the first reaction from most people is that the driver must be at fault. This assumption is understandable since pedestrians are defenseless against the force of a car, and frequently sustain serious injuries when accidents do occur. Personal injury lawsuits based on negligence commonly follow injuries of this type. Certainly, drivers often have the ability to react quicker than a pedestrian to avoid an accident, but do have to contend with the time it takes to bring the car to a stop. However, even though a driver may have a greater ability to avoid a collision, this does not mean the pedestrian bears no responsibility for the event or cannot share in the fault. A recent example of this situation appeared in a Pittsburgh accident case when a pedestrian claimed a driver struck her as she crossed a street and fractured her leg. The driver claimed the woman was not paying attention and walked into the front of the vehicle. A jury ultimately decided the pedestrian was 75 percent at fault for the accident, and the driver 25 percent. This case is just one example of how a pedestrian can contribute to the occurrence of an accident. A discussion of the legal duties owed by the both the driver and pedestrian as they share the same space, and the legal consequences when both parties share some fault for the accident, will follow below.
Duties of the Driver and Pedestrian
All drivers must exercise a reasonable duty of care and operate their vehicles in a safe manner, which can vary based on factors such as the time of day, weather and road conditions. Because of the catastrophic consequences of a pedestrian being struck by a car, drivers are required to exercise extra caution when pedestrians are present, and driving that may be adequate when only cars are in the vicinity may not be sufficient when a pedestrian enters the area.
On the other hand, pedestrians are expected to follow the traffic laws and refrain from engaging in behavior that would cause a cautious driver to take emergency evasive maneuvers in order to avoid hitting them. For example, darting out into the road from between parked cars would not give drivers enough notice or ability to see a pedestrian was near. As a consequence, if any damage/injury occurred as a result of the car swerving to avoid the person, the pedestrian could be liable for compensating anyone affected by the incident.
However, the majority of accidents do not have one party that is completely at fault, and instead, both individuals typically have contributed to the accident by acting in an unsafe or unexpected manner. In personal injury lawsuits, juries must decide which party is responsible, including whether both share some of the blame, and if so, how much each side contributed to the accident.
Florida has a rule in negligence cases that says a plaintiff is only able to recover for an injury to the extent he/she did not cause it. Thus, if an injured party was partially responsible for the collision, he/she would not be eligible to receive all the compensation originally requested. For example, if a jury determines the plaintiff, who is asking for $100,000 in damages, was 35 percent responsible for an accident and the defendant was 65 percent at fault, the plaintiff would be limited to collecting $65,000. Unlike other states, sharing fault for an accident does not bar recovery, but depending on the allocation of blame can significantly impact how much compensation an injured party may receive.
Recovering from a serious accident can take years, and the victim may still suffer from lasting medical problems. If you were injured in an accident, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to have your case assessed. The law limits how long a person can sue, so taking quick action is imperative. The Miami law firm of Pita, Weber & Del Prado knows how to effectively litigate an injury case, and can help you with your issues. Contact us for a free consultation.