Can I Sue If I Was Hit by a Car While Walking?
In the metropolitan city of Austin, Texas, a pedestrian collision could be just around the corner. In 2015 alone, 550 pedestrians died in vehicle collisions – a 12.7% increase from 2014. Vehicles colliding with pedestrians is an unfortunate reality of today’s busy streets, along with distracted drivers and poorly designed crosswalks. In a collision between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the pedestrian will always come out the loser. If a car recently struck you while walking in Texas, you should consider speaking with an Austin pedestrian accident lawyer to learn about your rights and options for receiving compensation from the at-fault party.
Who Is at Fault?
The first step in pursuing compensation is assigning fault. You must name a defendant if you wish to take someone to court for his/her negligence following a pedestrian collision. If a driver caused your accident, you bear a burden of proof to win compensation for your damages. To sue a driver for striking you while walking, you must prove four elements in front of a judge and/or jury:
- The driver owed you a duty of care. This element is simple – anyone operating a vehicle in Texas must take due care to avoid causing injury to others on the roadway.
- The driver breached his or her duty. A breach of duty in a pedestrian collision may take the form of driver negligence such as texting while driving, speeding, or failure to yield the right of way. Proving this element may require an investigation into the crash and the gathering of evidence such as the driver’s phone records.
- The driver’s breach of duty caused your incident. If the driver was speeding but a malfunctioning crosswalk signal caused you to step out into the road when it wasn’t safe, resulting injuries would not be the driver’s liability. To sue the driver, you must have proof that his/her breach was the proximate cause of your injuries.
- You sustained damages in the collision. You will not have grounds to sue – even if you prove the other three elements – if you did not sustain damages in the collision. Damages include physical injuries, accident-related medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
While the obvious at-fault party may be the driver of the vehicle, there may be other elements that caused or contributed to your collision. Consider roadway hazards such as a construction zone, hidden street sign, or malfunctioning traffic light when determining fault. Factors such as faulty vehicle parts and manufacturer liability may also come into play. You may need to retain an Austin personal injury attorney to thoroughly investigate your accident and help you determine defendant(s), especially if the driver who hit you will not admit fault.
Texas Modified Comparative Negligence Laws
In some pedestrian collisions, the pedestrian may be partially at fault. For example, you may have been staring down at your phone and walked into a crosswalk with a “no crossing” signal without paying attention. Texas follows modified comparative negligence laws, meaning plaintiffs may still take home compensation if they are 50% or less at fault for a crash. In the example above, if the courts find you 15% responsible for not paying attention but the driver 85% responsible for speeding through a red light and into the crosswalk, you would take home 85% of the recovery award.
As long as the courts don’t find you 51% or more at fault for the incident, you will be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. In some cases, there may be more than one defendant. In the event of two or more defendants after a pedestrian collision, the courts will assign percentages of fault and corresponding payment of the plaintiff’s damages. For information about your particular rights to sue, talk to an attorney.