Pedestrian Accidents: Can the Pedestrian Ever be Liable?

pedestrian accidents Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

When it comes to pedestrian accidents, people often assume that it’s almost always the  driver’s fault because of the old maxim, “The pedestrian has the right of way.” That’s not always correct, by the way, and there are several situations in which the pedestrian can be at fault — either totally at fault or partially at fault.

Of course, if you are a pedestrian and you’re hit by a vehicle and the accident wasn’t your fault at all, you will likely be able to recover damages for any injuries you might have sustained.

What are some common scenarios in which a pedestrian can be liable?

Have you ever heard the ice cream truck coming down the street and ran toward it without looking both ways? What if there was a vehicle coming and you didn’t see it? That’s just one instance in which you, the pedestrian, could be at fault for a pedestrian accident if that vehicle were to hit you.

Here are some more:

  • Ignoring the crosswalk traffic signal, as in crossing the street while the crosswalk signal says “Do Not “Walk” or has a large hand signaling for you to stop.
  • Walking in the street while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
  • Jaywalking – the act of crossing in the middle of a street without going to a crosswalk.
  • Walking along interstates, overpasses or other major roadways where pedestrians are not allowed.

In all the above situations, there’s a good chance that the driver also shares some of the blame because he or she was traveling too fast, was not paying attention, or didn’t stop in time because of some other circumstance.

What if the pedestrian and the driver share fault?

In most states, if the driver and the pedestrian are both to blame for the accident, then an insurance company, or a judge or jury, will determine the percentage of fault for each person involved and base recovery of damages on that percentage.

North Carolina, unfortunately, is not most states. North Carolina is one of only four states and the District of Columbia to follow the contributory negligence rule, which means that even if the pedestrian is only 1 percent at fault for the accident, he or she is not legally able to recover a penny from the other person’s insurance company. Essentially, it’s an “all or none” regulation.

In sum, pedestrian accidents are not all black and white, and the cases can get very complicated very quickly. That’s why it’s so important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney like Robert Armstrong. Contact his office today for help.