Pedestrian Accidents and Your Rights
Vehicle Versus Pedestrian Accidents
Accidents involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian are quite common. These types of collisions often occur because the driver was simply not paying close enough attention to the roadway or parking lot ahead. In California, it is the legal duty of every driver to "keep a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles." Drivers are required to control the speed and the movement of their vehicles so as to lessen the chance of an accident with other vehicles and pedestrians. A driver must at all times exercise ordinary care to avoid a collision including swerving or altering his course, in addition to applying his brakes, if that would be a reasonable means of avoiding the collision. Because drivers are behind the wheel of thousands of pounds of rolling steel, they have a greater responsibility to avoid an accident than those on foot. Any failure to use reasonable care in driving a vehicle is negligence, and even a careless pedestrian has rights if the driver could have avoided the impact.
Comparative Fault of a Pedestrian Does Not Excuse the Driver
Even where a pedestrian steps into a roadway when they shouldn't, a driver who is not paying attention may still be held liable for the pedestrian's injuries and damages. Where the neglect of two people combine to cause an accident, the law allows the injured party to recover at least some of their damages. This is known as the doctrine of comparative negligence, and it works in a logical way. For example, when a pedestrian walks into the roadway someplace other than a crosswalk and gets hit, the driver may be 80% at fault for not seeing the pedestrian and avoiding the collision. In that scenario, the injured pedestrian is entitled to recover 80% of their damages from the driver as they lose 20% of their compensation because of their own responsibility.
What About Intoxicated Pedestrians
Not uncommonly, the victim in a vehicle versus pedestrian accident is an intoxicated person walking across a street or parking lot. At first blush, some people might assume the intoxicated party has no rights. After all, they are guilty of being drunk in public. However, this is not the law. The fact that someone is inebriated does not excuse a driver from keeping a lookout and taking evasive action when required. An intoxicated pedestrian is no less visible than one who hasn't been drinking. It is the poor judgment that might have put the victim in harm's way and that same poor judgment might have been exercised while sober. In short, don't be convinced you have no right to compensation simply because you had been drinking before an accident. That is not the law.
If you have been injured by a driver's neglect, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve, even if you might share some of the responsibility. Contacting a lawyer for a free consultation is always a good choice.