People often confuse the severity of an injury with liability. They believe that if someone is badly hurt, that person has a greater chance of winning a personal injury lawsuit. This assumption is especially present in an accident between a pedestrian and a vehicle driver.
This is a false conclusion. Like anyone using the road, pedestrians have a responsibility to follow the rules. No matter how badly they were injured, they could still be responsible for an accident.
In Oklahoma, pedestrians are expected to cross at marked and unmarked crosswalks.
A marked crosswalk uses signals. Whenever you see a “walk/do not walk” signal, you are at a marked crosswalk. Walkers cannot legally cross at a “do not walk” signal. In areas where marked crosswalks are present, pedestrians cannot cross anywhere else.
An unmarked crosswalk is a designated crossing area with no signal. Often, you will find these in residential areas. The sidewalk usually slopes down into the pavement, often having a bumpy or lined texture. There may even be a narrow set of white lines on the pavement, indicating the crossing area. If traffic is clear, walkers may cross here.
If a pedestrian chooses to cross anywhere else, such as going across the street to a neighbor’s house, cars have the right of way.
When pedestrians cross anywhere other than designated crosswalks, drivers have the right of way. However, a driver cannot be willfully negligent of a pedestrian’s safety. Drivers are expected to use common sense around pedestrians. For example, if someone crosses at an inopportune time, drivers can’t speed up or maintain their speed.
A SCENARIO DEMONSTRATING PEDESTRIAN LIABILITY
Let’s imagine an accident between a walker and driver and consider how it could play out in court. A pedestrian in a busy, downtown area carelessly steps out into the street. An equally careless speeding driver collides with the walker, causing serious damage. The pedestrian sues the driver for damages. Considering both were at fault, how will a court handle this case?
Oklahoma civil courts use a model of comparative negligence. Overlooking the facts, they can hold each party partially responsible for an incident. They will assign a percentage of liability, which affects the outcome of the lawsuit.
Perhaps the court holds the driver more responsible since he was speeding, negligent in looking out for walkers. Maybe the court assumes the pedestrian was more responsible since they were jaywalking.
Depending on the percentage of liability, the plaintiff (the pedestrian in this scenario) receives compensation directly related to the defendant’s liability. For instance, if the court holds the driver 60% responsible for the accident, the walker can receive only 60% of the overall damages. If, however, the court gives the walker a liability of 51% or more, this person cannot receive any compensation.
CONSULT AN ATTORNEY
If you’ve been in a pedestrian car accident, whether you are the driver or the walker, speak with an attorney. After reviewing the facts, they can guide you on what to do next. With their experience, a lawyer can sometimes uncover facts that prove you were less responsible for the incident. This could motivate you both to confidently move forward and seek financial justice for your injuries.
For help with pedestrian accidents, contact our office for a free consultation. You can reach us online or call us at 918-492-7674