Car vs. Pedestrian Accident Liability

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A car accident occurs when a car crashes with an animal, debris, other stationary object such as trees, or a pedestrian, and even another vehicle. It is common nowadays in any part of the world, and the results can be devastating to both the driver and the pedestrian.

In the United States, traffic and personal injury laws cover car accidents. The process involved in bringing a case to court is tedious, and often takes months or years before a judgment is rendered.

The court decides auto accident cases after involved parties and attorneys have gathered evidence, interviewed the witnesses and the opposing parties, and the judge has applied the law to determine who is libel.

Whoever is at fault has to pay damages and hospitalization bills to another party. There are times that both the driver and the pedestrian are at fault in the accident.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, there are about 5,000 people killed and 64,000 people injured each year in car-pedestrian accidents in the United States.

Meanwhile, car speed is a significant factor in one-third of the auto-accidents. The faster a driver is on the road, the higher the chances for the pedestrian and driver to sustain injuries and death.

In this article, we will outline in detail liability options for car vs. pedestrian accidents.

Driver Is Liable Because Required “Due Care” in Operating Automobiles

Every driver has a responsibility to operate an automobile with due care. However, the law also states that not all situations are the same.

Thus, due care requires that drivers act with caution and drive reasonably. It also supersedes other federal and states laws such as the required speed limit. Here are some of the examples:

  • An average person would usually slow down and pay attention whenever they see pedestrians nearby the road. Hence, this is expected.
  • If a driver sees a child riding a bicycle on the road, the law states that it is unreasonable to maintain the 30 mph speed limit. In case of collision, the driver will be at fault.

Indeed, the due care of the driver is the focus of most car accident lawsuits. After a collision, the plaintiff has the burden to prove to the court that the damages he incurred are due to the negligence of the driver or breach of due care. If drivers are found guilty, they may face punishment, fines, and jail time.

On the other hand, pedestrians are also expected to act with reasonable care to avoid accidents, especially when they are staying or walking on the road, or else they will be at fault under the law.

Pedestrians Are Liable Because of Negligence

Drivers are expected to avoid causing harm to pedestrians when they are on the road. But there are instances when pedestrians behave in such a way that they create collisions on the road. Here are some examples:

  • Pedestrians wear dark clothes at night and try to walk or cross a busy street
  • A person darts out in between parked vehicles and passes in front of a moving car
  • A person blocks the road and the driver swerves to avoid hitting the pedestrian, accidentally hitting another car in the process.

A pedestrian can be at fault, especially if he forced a driver to take evasion action that results in damage to other automobiles.

Cautious drivers would even find it hard to avoid collision with the above examples. With this, the court may decide that the pedestrian will be held liable.

Shared Liability of Both Pedestrian and Driver

In some cases, no single party is entirely liable for the accident. Usually, both the driver and the pedestrian share the liability. In this case, the court determines the percentage of the liability of the driver and the plaintiff for their injuries and damages. This determination varies according to the laws of each state in America.

Here are some instances:

  • In some states, when the pedestrian has a 60 percent liability in the accident, and the driver has 40 percent liability, the driver must pay the 40 percent damages which is related to the crash.
  • In other states, the driver will not pay anymore since the pedestrian has more than 50 percent responsibility for the accident.

Always Act With Caution

In sum, it is essential for both the pedestrians and the drivers to act with caution whenever they are on the road. Drivers are required by the law to operate the automobile with due care, but this does not mean that pedestrians are immune from the rules.


Contrary to popular belief, drivers are not always at fault in auto accidents, because there are pedestrians who misbehave in such ways that drivers find it impossible to avoid a collision.  Thus, if you wish to have someone guide you in a lawsuit involving auto-accidents, you need to have a good lawyer like ones on this site.



Adeline Robinson

Adeline Robinson is one of the most promising young law writers. She writes pieces on law topics for common readers. She is an avid sports fan and loves watching games if she has free time.