Collisions between a vehicle and a pedestrian are often some of the most dangerous kinds of traffic incidents for the people involved. Due to the weight and momentum of a vehicle, and the lack of protection being a pedestrian entails, even low speed collisions can cause extremely serious injuries, and because of the graphic nature of this kind of accident when they occur they are afforded a lot of news coverage and commentary. Uninformed opinions on the part of the news media have led to the proliferation of a major misunderstanding about the liability in these sorts of events among the public at large, that in many instances has led pedestrians to act less carefully than they should: that in an accident between a vehicle and a pedestrian the driver of the vehicle is always at fault.
Liability on the Roads
Everybody using the public roads, whether they are driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, or are on foot, are held to the same standard of care by the law; they must act as a reasonably prudent person. The public’s misunderstanding that an incident between a vehicle and a pedestrian is “always the fault of the driver of the vehicle” comes from the fact that what is “reasonably prudent” for a person driving a vehicle and what is “reasonably prudent” for a person who is walking are different. A driver in a car can cause a lot more damage than a person who is walking, so people must exercise more care in a car. A pedestrian, however must still obey any applicable traffic laws the same way a person in a car does: they must exercise caution to the same degree that every reasonable person who is walking by a road does. Since pedestrians actually have a greater ability to avoid accidents than a motorist does, due to their ability to not place themselves in situations where they may become injured, and increased ability to “get out of the way” if an unforeseen circumstance arises, it is strange that most accidents between cars and pedestrians happen on the actual roadway—an unsafe place that the pedestrian made a deliberate choice to enter.
Pedestrians can be held liable in court if they negligently cause an accident, and a driver’s insurance company can also pursue legal action against them, their insurance companies, and, in the event they are deceased, their estate to recover expenses brought about by their negligence. A major consideration for a driver attempting to be compensated for damages, however, is that insurance companies are often reluctant to pursue a negligent pedestrian, especially if they were seriously injured or killed in the accident. Because of this if a driver has a high deductible on their car insurance, or has suffered damages that will not be entirely covered by their policy, it can be in the driver’s best interests to seek compensation through litigation instead of filing an insurance claim. When someone files a claim with their insurance company they subrogate their legal rights in the matter to the company: if the company chooses not to pursue legal action, the driver may not be able to sue to recover any remaining uncompensated damages. In a situation like this it is best to seek advice from an experienced attorney before filing an insurance claim.
The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm: Your Local Auto Accident Resource
Collisions with pedestrians create a number of complicated legal issues beyond those involved in a simple automobile accident. Not only do you have to deal with the insurance companies and potential civil litigation, but also the biases that the public at large holds about these sorts of wrecks. If you have been involved in an auto/pedestrian accident, contact our representatives to discuss your options today.
Dan Pruitt is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from University of Georgia, and has been practicing law for 25 years. Dan Pruitt believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.