When Pedestrians Are Liable for Car Accidents

While rare, pedestrians may be partly or completely at fault in a car accident case. Car accidents involving pedestrians require careful investigations to determine if the pedestrian and/or driver were behaving in negligent or illegal activities at the time of the accident.

Determining Fault in West Virginia

In early 2015, Governor Tomblin signed House Bill 2002 into law. The new statute slightly alters the determination of fault in personal injury cases. The new comparative fault rule generally asserts that defendants are only liable for the amount of damage their actions inflicted. Plaintiffs who are responsible for half or more of the accident cannot recover damages, and the amount of fault will proportionately reduce any damages awarded under 50 percent.

When Pedestrians Are at Fault

Pedestrians are responsible for adhering to state and local laws while walking on or near West Virginia roads. Under state code Chapter 17C, pedestrians are responsible for:

  • Following pedestrian traffic signals and walking in crosswalks where available
  • Following local ordinances regarding pedestrian travel
  • Not walking into a crosswalk so closely to a moving vehicle that the vehicle cannot stop
  • Yielding to vehicles when crossing a road without a crosswalk
  • Walking on a sidewalk if available instead of walking on the road
  • Avoiding standing in the road for the purpose of soliciting transportation
  • Avoiding walking in areas where pedestrian traffic is clearly prohibited

Pedestrians who are inebriated or acting recklessly and failing to follow the rules of the road may shoulder a higher portion of fault in a car accident case.

In general, drivers carry the heavier burden to avoid causing an accident, but the courts will look at all the facts of a case before determining liability. If a driver is following the rules of the road and a pedestrian runs out without giving the driver time to stop, the driver may have a case against the pedestrian.

Proving Pedestrian Liability

Although a pedestrian might bear some liability, filing a claim against a pedestrian is complex. To prove that a pedestrian was acting negligently and caused the accident, a plaintiff may need to obtain witness testimony, traffic videos, and other compelling pieces of evidence. In many cases, a driver’s negligence will outweigh a pedestrian’s. In the event that a pedestrian is liable, his or her auto insurance may pay for the driver’s damages. A knowledgeable West Virginia car accident lawyer can help drivers determine if pursuing a case against a pedestrian makes sense. Every case is different and requires careful scrutiny.

Pedestrian Liability and Damages

Pedestrian liability is always a question in pedestrian-vehicle accidents. While a driver may not have enough evidence to pursue a claim against the pedestrian, the pedestrian’s portion of liability will likely reduce his or her ability to obtain full compensation. The court will reduce a plaintiff’s award based on the percentage of fault. For example, if a pedestrian was 10 percent negligent, the defendant will only be liable for paying 90 percent of the total damages.

Other Liability Considerations in West Virginia

Pedestrians and drivers are not the only parties that may carry responsibility for an accident. A qualified West Virginia personal injury attorney will look at the details of every case to determine if a third party may carry some portion of fault for the accident. An auto manufacturer, road construction contractor, or another party could also be at fault.

The lawyers at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC can help you determine your legal options as a pedestrian or a driver involved in a pedestrian-vehicle accident. Injured individuals have the right to pursue justice after someone’s negligence causes an accident. We will help you determine who truly is at fault and secure the compensation you need to start recovering physically and emotionally. For more information about pedestrian liability in West Virginia, give us a call at 304-720-6700 or contact us online today.