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 accident.
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.
However, 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 themselves. 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.