Being the more vulnerable party in a car accident does not absolve you
of responsibility. Motorcycle riders, bicyclists, and even pedestrians
can cause an accident, even if they were seriously injured.
Personal injury law, by its very nature, is built on the premise that everyone
has a part to play in an accident. Legally, the severity of an injury
is not as important as who is at fault.
Pedestrians can, through their own behavior, be responsible for a vehicle
At most every intersection, you will find a place for pedestrians to cross.
These crosswalks can be marked or unmarked. An unmarked crosswalk is usually found in a residential area. Often the
sidewalk concrete will dip into the road asphalt, indicating that you
can cross there. Pedestrians have the right of way at unmarked crosswalks,
meaning cars must stop for foot traffic.
pedestrians must use unmarked crosswalks responsibly. They cannot, for example, maintain their stride, step into oncoming traffic,
and expect cars to halt for them. They must, by law, be on the lookout
for traffic. If a car is already close by and moving at a high speed,
pedestrians must use common sense and let that car pass.
When a walker darts out in front of traffic, they can be held responsible
for their own injuries.
Marked crosswalks are the ones you see at busy intersections, often in downtown areas. They
have “walk” and “do not walk” signals. Modern
crosswalks even have audio cues for visually impaired walkers.
Pedestrians cannot cross at a “do not walk” signal. If they do, they can be cited for jaywalking. They are also endangering
If an accident occurs when a pedestrian is crossing illegally, they could
be liable for their own harm.
Vehicle traffic has the right of way everywhere else. Legally, you are allowed to step off the sidewalk and cross the street
to your neighbor’s house. However, you must yield to cars. Again,
an irresponsible walker can be legally culpable for causing an accident.
In Texas civil law, there is a model called “comparative negligence”
that can protect a pedestrian, even if they were partly responsible for
an accident. Comparative negligence allows for the fact that in an injury,
more than one person can be responsible. Let’s take a marked crosswalk
as an example.
Jeff crosses at a “do not walk” signal, and he is hit. According
to Texas law, the accident appears to be his fault. However, the driver
was going 30 miles per hour above the speed limit, endangering everyone
around him. Now who is responsible? The courts must answer this question.
Courts will intricately review the facts of the case. They could rule that,
yes, Jeff was irresponsible when crossing at that light. However, the
roads were clear at that moment. At the driver’s rate of speed,
Jeff could not have anticipated their arrival. Using comparative negligence,
the courts assign a percentage of blame to each party. Jeff, they say,
is 40% responsible for the accident, and the driver is 60% at fault. Because
of comparative negligence, a plaintiff receives compensation equal to
the percentage of the defendant’s fault. Put simply, since the defendant
was 60% at fault, Jeff can get 60% of the total damages.
In Texas, if a plaintiff is 51% or more responsible for their own injuries,
they cannot receive damages in a lawsuit.
Consult a Lawyer
If you’ve been harmed in an accident, and you aren’t sure of
your degree of responsibility, talk to an experienced attorney. They can
evaluate your case and help guide you on how to proceed. Even when it
appears that you are the at-fault party, a lawyer can help you find other
options to help cover the cost of your recovery.
If you’ve been in a pedestrian accident, we may be able to help.
Whether you were the driver or walker, you could be entitled to compensation.
Call (817) 591-4222 or
contact us online, and allow us to review your case.