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Is the Driver Always at Fault in Car-Pedestrian Accidents?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that thousands of people are injured in pedestrian accidents every year, some of them so severely their lives will never be the same. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported 6,227 more were killed nationwide in 2018. In North Carolina, more than 100 pedestrians lost their lives when they were hit by cars.

It is easy to presume that car-pedestrian accidents are always the fault of the driver, but that is not the case. If you hear someone say, “The pedestrian always has the right-of-way” tell them that is not true. It is true that many accidents are the fault of the driver, but a lot of them are the fault of the pedestrian. Sometimes, the driver and pedestrian are both at fault.

When the Driver Is at Fault

Some of the most common car-pedestrian accidents that are the fault of the driver include:

  • Distracted driving. This can be drivers who are texting, talking on the phone, combing their hair, putting on make-up, shaving, adjusting the radio, or anything that results in them taking their eyes off the road for even a brief moment.
  • Making a right-hand turn on a red light without noticing a pedestrian just stepped into the crosswalk.
  • Driving too fast so that the driver is unable to stop when a pedestrian starts to cross the road.

When the Pedestrian Is at Fault

No matter how carefully a motorist is driving, there are times when the actions of pedestrians make it impossible for drivers to avoid running into them. For example:

  • Crossing in the middle of the street without looking for oncoming cars.
  • Crossing in a crosswalk against the traffic light. The sign says “Don’t Walk,” but the pedestrian ignores it and crosses the street anyway.
  • Darting into the road between two parked cars.
  • Texting while stepping into the street without first looking for cars.
  • Walking along the road at night wearing only dark clothes so it is almost impossible to be seen.

When Both Driver and Pedestrian Are at Fault

In almost 50 percent of car-pedestrian crashes, either the driver, the pedestrian or both were drinking alcohol just prior to the crash. This often makes them equally at fault for the accident. Another scenario may be when a speeding driver hits a jaywalking pedestrian. The pedestrian who stepped out between two parked cars may have been hit by a distracted driver.

What Difference Does It Make?

The person who is at fault for causing the accident is the one who pays for the damages suffered by the one who was injured. If both are at fault, they will share the responsibility for their individual contribution to the damages.

Whether you are a driver or pedestrian who was injured in a car-pedestrian accident that was the fault of the other party, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Campbell & Associates for a free consultation at 704.333.0885.


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