Who’s at Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?

Pedestrians and Drivers Have an Equal Duty of Care

Drivers and pedestrians must exercise care for the safety of those around them, and accidents fall under New York's civil negligence rules. If either party doesn't act in a reasonable manner, they are liable to those hurt because of their actions. While there's no duty to intervene when others' behaviors put people at risk, everyone has an obligation to avoid acting in ways that may cause harm. The duty applies equally to pedestrians and drivers.

How Pedestrians Cause Accidents

New York City has a high rate of pedestrian-involved accidents; over 100 happened in 2018. Many assume that the driver is always at fault in a pedestrian accident, but that's not always the case. Responsibility isn't always clear-cut, and in some cases, pedestrians and drivers share the blame. Here are some things to know about when pedestrians may be responsible for auto accidents.

A pedestrian might contribute to or cause an auto accident in certain ways, including:

  • Jaywalking

  • Wearing dark colors at night

  • Not looking before crossing the street

  • Negligently or intentionally throwing things onto the roadway

  • Walking while intoxicated

  • Intentionally distracting a driver

In these situations, as well as many others, a pedestrian may be found partially or totally responsible for an accident.

How to Determine Fault in a Pedestrian Accident

After being involved in an accident with a pedestrian, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault. There are a few ways to prove fault in pedestrian accidents.

  • Witnesses' testimony is vital
  • Surveillance footage from nearby businesses and dash cameras
  • The accident scene may provide information in the form of skid marks and debris, as can the location and extent of damage to a vehicle

A Violation Doesn't Always Constitute Negligence

When pedestrians violate traffic laws, it's evidence that they're at fault for an accident. However, as courts across the country have held, proof of a violation is not always definitive documentation of liability. Determining fault for an auto accident is a difficult exercise, and an experienced attorney can help determine how New York's laws apply to a particular case.

In some instances, pedestrians and drivers share blame for a collision. Here, according to New York's pure comparative negligence law, a person who is partially to blame for his or her injuries will be able to recover a portion of their damages. It's the jury's job to allocate fault, and proving it is crucial to winning a case.

How Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

In pedestrian accident cases, outcomes often depend on testimony from witnesses. An attorney will quickly contact bystanders so they can offer statements while the memories are still fresh in their minds. A skilled lawyer will help with all parts of a pedestrian accident case, and working with them is the best way to recover fair compensation.