Can a Pedestrian Be at Fault for an Accident?

You may believe that you should always have the right of way as a pedestrian traversing Texas’ roadways and sidewalks. After all, motor vehicles can cause much more damage to you than you can to them. Why should you ever be to blame for a pedestrian-involved accident? Pedestrian laws in Texas’ major cities state otherwise. While pedestrians often do have the right of way, it is not a guarantee and a qualified Austin pedestrian accident lawyer can help determine fault in a pedestrian collision. Pedestrians must take care to obey the rules of the road – or risk getting into a collision and taking the blame.

Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities in Texas

The belief that the pedestrian “always has the right of way” is incorrect from a legal standpoint. In a pedestrian-vehicle accident, law enforcement will investigate which party caused the collision just like it would in a crash between two motor vehicles. There is always the possibility that the accident was the pedestrian’s fault, not the driver of the vehicle. If the pedestrian crossed the road without the appropriate signal, entered the roadway without giving oncoming cars enough time to stop, or crossed where there was no intersection or marked crosswalk, he or she might be liable for an ensuing accident.

In Texas, pedestrians do not have full access to all roadways. In fact, it is illegal in most jurisdictions for pedestrians to walk on bridges, along highways, or on freeways. There are many busy roads that prohibit pedestrian access. In areas where pedestrians may legally walk, there are rules that foot traffic must follow. Where there are traffic-control signals, pedestrians must wait for the signal that it’s safe to cross. Proceeding on a “Do Not Walk” command is against the law. Where there is no traffic-control signal, the pedestrian must cross at an intersection when it is safe to do so – not in the middle of the street or outside of a crosswalk (“jaywalking”). Pedestrians walking around while intoxicated may also be liable for a collision, at least in part.

Shared Fault After a Pedestrian Accident

Not all pedestrian accidents are either the driver’s fault or the pedestrian’s fault. In many collisions between vehicles and people, both parties are partially to blame. The driver may not have been paying attention to the road, but the pedestrian may have crossed without waiting for the proper signal. A pedestrian may have been looking down at his or her phone while walking into the road, but a driver may have rolled through a stop sign. In these situations, the Texas courts will assign fault to both parties and accordingly reduce any available compensation.

Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Title 2, Chapter 33 outlines the rules of “proportionate responsibility.” This section explains that a case in which one party is responsible for a percentage of the harm, the courts will either bar the person from recovery or reduce the amount of damages by a “percentage equal to the claimant’s percentage of responsibility.” In Texas, the courts will bar an individual from recovery if his percentage of fault is greater than the defendant’s. In a pedestrian accident, the courts have to determine that the pedestrian was less than 50% responsible for the accident to grant an award.

Insurance Claims After a Pedestrian Accident

If a pedestrian was negligent and caused an accident, the driver’s insurance company can try to go after the pedestrian to pay for repairs. This might not seem fair since the pedestrian likely suffered more damages than the owner of the vehicle, but it is legally allowable. If you’re a recently injured pedestrian in conversations with an insurance claims adjuster, seek help from an Austin injury attorney. An attorney can help you understand what you might owe the other party, or what the other party might owe you. A lawyer can also take over negotiations with insurers on your behalf.