Accidents with Pedestrians

Sometimes pedestrians seem to come out of nowhere, and you must slam on your brakes or swerve to avoid hitting them. However, if you cannot avoid them in time and find yourself involved in accident with a pedestrian, you'll need to know what to do.

Avoiding Car Crashes with Pedestrians

The best way to deal with accidents involving pedestrians is avoiding them altogether. Here are some tips on defensive driving when pedestrians are present:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially people on the sidewalk and crosswalks.
  • Be careful when you're around people on bikes, rollerblades, scooters, and skateboards, as it may be harder for them to stop at intersections.
  • Look out for pedestrians wearing headphones or distracted by something on their cell phone.
  • Pay attention to younger children and older adults, as they may be less aware of pedestrian control signs and oncoming traffic.
  • Make eye contact with pedestrians to let them know you see them.
  • Give pedestrians extra time and room to get out of crosswalks and back onto the sidewalk.
  • When in doubt, give the pedestrian the right of way.

Steps After a Pedestrian Accident

If you hit a pedestrian, do your best to stay calm. Take a deep breath, assess the situation, and follow these steps:

  • Call for emergency medical help if anyone involved is seriously injured.
  • Make sure you and the pedestrian are out of the way of traffic and in a safe location.
  • File an accident report with the police.
  • Document the accident as best you can.
    • Take pictures of any damages caused by the accident and the surrounding area.
  • Contact your car insurance provider; they will communicate with the pedestrian's attorney and insurance company for you.
  • If the pedestrian is conscious and able, exchange names, phone numbers, and insurance providers.
  • Do not admit or imply fault on your behalf.

Determining Fault

After a car crash involving a pedestrian, it's not always easy determining who is at fault for the incident. Generally speaking, the law of negligence will determine who is at fault. Negligence is defined as careless or unlawful behavior.

Some examples of negligence on the pedestrian's part include:

  • Jaywalking.
  • Being in the crosswalk when it is not indicated for them to do so.
  • Walking on the road instead of the sidewalk.

Some examples of negligence on the driver's part include:

  • Running a red light.
  • Not coming to a full stop at a stop sign.
  • Speeding.
  • Distracted driving (e.g. texting, talking on the phone, checking GPS, changing music, etc.).

What If Both Parties Showed Negligence?

There are some cases where both you and the pedestrian might be at fault for the car crash. For example, if a text message distracted you and then you hit a jaywalking pedestrian, the law of negligence might apply to both of you.

Depending on which state you live in, the damages you caused to the pedestrian could be lessened or even dropped altogether.

In most states, the “comparative fault rule" will likely apply to your situation. This rule says the reparations owed to the pedestrian will diminish based on their percentage of fault in the car accident.

A handful of states, however, follow the “pure contributory negligence rule." This rule says that if the pedestrian is in any way at fault, they are responsible for their own damages and injuries. Ask your insurance provider which rule your state follows.

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