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What is a Negligent Pedestrian?

What is a Negligent Pedestrian?

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When it comes to pedestrian accidents, you may assume the driver is at fault; however, this assertion isn’t always correct. Many people believe the adage, “pedestrians always have the right of way” without realizing pedestrians can be as negligent as a driver.

Learn more about negligence in today’s blog. 

Understanding Negligence

Negligence is a legal theory that a plaintiff must prove before they can hold a defendant legally responsible for the harm they suffered. Every person must exercise a duty of care under a given set of circumstances. For instance, both drivers and pedestrians must follow traffic laws and the rules of the road when using streets, crosswalks, or highways. 

If person A doesn’t act with reasonable care and causes harm to person B, then person A will be found negligent in court, regardless of who was driving and walking. Continue reading to learn more about determining fault in a pedestrian accident case. 

How Can a Pedestrian Cause an Accident?

Typically, car accidents involving pedestrians end with a disparity of damage, meaning the pedestrian may suffer significant injuries, whereas the driver may go unscathed. It’s easy to see why most people believe drivers are always responsible for collisions. However, a pedestrian may cause an accident in several ways, which include the following:

  • Jaywalking: Pedestrians must cross as directed in designated crossing zones; otherwise, they can only cross if they won’t obstruct traffic. 
  • Wearing dark clothes while walking
  • Negligently or intentionally throwing objects onto the road or near the traveling lane
  • Failing to look both ways when crossing the street
  • Entering into a crosswalk when traffic signals indicate to wait
  • Darting into the road to pick up an item
  • Attempting to distract a driver
  • Crossing the street while intoxicated

For example, a Colorado man was struck by a car when he tried crossing the street in dark attire. The driver couldn’t see the man, and law enforcement determined the accident was the pedestrian’s fault. 

Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents

Of course, there are some accidents in which a driver is clearly at fault for striking a pedestrian. Failing to stop at a designated crosswalk, running a stoplight, and making a right turn on a red light as a pedestrian is crossing are some examples. At the same time, pedestrians may have a better chance of avoiding accidents compared to drivers.

It’s rare for a car accident involving a pedestrian to occur outside the roadway. Furthermore, a pedestrian can determine whether they should exit a sidewalk or road shoulder to enter a roadway. Still, determining fault is complex, so every state uses a contributory or comparative negligence system. 

Shared Fault in Pedestrian Accidents

Sometimes, both a driver and pedestrian are to blame for an accident. The result of a personal injury lawsuit where both the pedestrian and driver are culpable varies from state to state. Let’s explore these laws:

Contributory Negligence: If the defendant can demonstrate the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the accident in any capacity, even if it’s just one percent, the plaintiff becomes ineligible to receive compensation from the defendant. Only a handful of states, such as Maryland, Alabama, Virginia, Washington, and North Carolina, practice this rule.  

Comparative Negligence: This rule allocates fault between both parties. For instance, if the plaintiff is partly at fault for an accident, then the defendant’s liability may be reduced but not eliminated. Here are the two variations of the comparative negligence system:

  1. Pure Comparative Negligence: Liability is split based on the percentage of fault. Let’s say the pedestrian is found 30 percent responsible, and the driver is 70 percent at fault. If the pedestrian’s damages equal $10,000, then the driver must pay them $7,000.
  2. Modified Comparative Negligence: Liability is split according to the percentage of fault, but only to a degree. If a plaintiff meets or exceeds this threshold, they may not be able to receive recovery. Generally, this limit is 50 percent, so if a plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault, they don’t qualify for compensation. 

Utah uses the Modified Comparative Negligence rule to establish fault. 


Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton is Here for You

If you were recently involved in an accident caused by a pedestrian, it might be difficult to prove it’s their fault. An experienced personal injury attorney from Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton can help you collect proof to hold the negligent pedestrian accountable. There are no upfront fees for hiring an attorney from our firm. We have offices throughout Utah County, as well as West Jordan. Schedule your free case evaluation today.