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When Is a Pedestrian at Fault in a Car Accident?

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On April 10, 2023, a woman behind the wheel of a Jeep Cherokee proceeded through a green light at the intersection of Montgomery Blvd and Pennsylvania NE and hit a pedestrian, sending him to the hospital. But according to police, the driver wasn’t actually at fault.

The pedestrian had been waiting at a nearby bus stop when he crossed into the road, did not use a sidewalk, and ignored the right of way. He was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

So what happens when someone ignores the rules of the road and causes a pedestrian accident? You already know that you can hold another driver responsible for causing a crash, but when is a pedestrian at fault in a car accident?

Our car accident lawyers in Albuquerque have experience handling even the most complex car accident claims. If you were involved in a pedestrian accident but you weren’t at fault, keep reading to learn more about your rights.

Key Takeaways:

  • Drivers and pedestrians both have a duty of care to follow the rules of the road.
  • Pedestrians who violate their duty of care can be held liable for any resulting accidents they cause.
  • Proving that you weren’t at fault for a pedestrian accident requires a careful and thoughtful approach.

Duty of Care—What Do Drivers and Pedestrians Owe Each Other?

A duty of care is a responsibility that one individual owes to another. For example, every driver is responsible for upholding a certain duty of care while operating a motor vehicle. This duty of care is to follow all the rules of the road and to behave in a way that respects the safety of those they share the road with.

A driver who is upholding their duty of care is:

  • Driving the speed limit (or lower if the weather, traffic, or driving conditions call for it)
  • Signaling turns and lane changes with their blinker
  • Leaving plenty of room between themselves and other vehicles
  • Looking 12 to 15 seconds ahead
  • Coming to a full and complete stop at all stop signs
  • Yielding the right of way to vehicles and pedestrians where appropriate

Pedestrians also have a duty of care when using sidewalks, crosswalks, and the road. A pedestrian who is upholding their duty of care is:

  • Crossing at marked crosswalks (or at corners when there are no crosswalks)
  • Looking both ways and listening for vehicles before crossing a road
  • Using sidewalks whenever available
  • Walking against traffic on the shoulder or as far from the road as possible when no sidewalks are available

For both drivers and pedestrians, adhering to the duty of care can be summed up as taking reasonable precautions to prevent harm to themselves and others.

Can a Pedestrian Cause a Car Accident?

Yes, a pedestrian can cause an accident through negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions. This can be a difficult concept to fully grasp. After all, motor vehicles typically pose a much greater threat to the safety of pedestrians.

But by acting in ways that are dangerous or negligent, pedestrians can cause accidents. Pedestrian behavior that can cause or contribute to collisions include:

  • Darting into traffic without warning
  • Refusing to use sidewalks when available
  • Walking with the flow of traffic
  • Wearing headphones or earbuds while crossing the street
  • Crossing or walking in areas not designated for pedestrian use
  • Crossing a road against traffic signals
  • Texting, talking on the phone, or scrolling social media
  • Walking while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Every driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist, and pedestrian must behave in a way that preserves not only their own safety, but the safety of all those they share the road with. So while a driver behind the wheel of a sedan or pickup truck might have the potential to cause greater damage or injury in a crash, pedestrians are not always without fault.

Proving That a Pedestrian Is at Fault for Your Accident and Injuries

We understand that in most accident cases involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the blame is often assumed to fall entirely on the driver. However, if you were driving safely and know that the pedestrian caused your accident, you may need the support of an experienced legal team.

To prove any type of personal injury claim, you’ll need a preponderance of evidence. This simply means that you need enough evidence to prove that it is more likely than not that something happened.

Evidence that can be useful in this type of accident case includes:

  • Dashcam footage
  • Red light camera or traffic camera footage
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Cell phone records (especially if you saw the pedestrian on their phone at the time of the wreck)
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts
  • The accident report

Evidence on its own is not necessarily enough to prove what happened. An attorney with a background in car accident claims can help you analyze and interpret all of the collected evidence. Using this information, they can help you build the strongest possible injury claim on your behalf.

What if I Was Also at Fault?

New Mexico personal injury law follows a concept known as pure comparative negligence. This means that you can still file a claim and recover compensation for your damages so long as you were not 100% at fault.

For example, it may be clear that the pedestrian involved in your accident stepped in front of your vehicle without looking and while not at a marked crosswalk. But if you were speeding at the time of the crash, you could be found partially at fault.

Liability and compensation can get complex in cases involving two at-fault parties.

When you receive compensation for a crash in which you played a role, the total settlement or award will be proportionately reduced by your total percentage of fault. If you are 10% at fault, your compensation is reduced by 10%. This means that if the insurance company can inflate your percentage of responsibility, they can reduce how much they have to pay.

In a state like New Mexico, you could even be deemed to be 99% at fault, and therefore only entitled to 1% of the compensation you need for your recovery.

Discuss Your Case for Free

An accident can upend your life. Suddenly you’re dealing with medical bills, lost wages, and an insurance company that won’t seem to leave you alone. And if you were the driver in a pedestrian accident, you’re probably facing an immense amount of pressure to take the blame—even if you know that you weren’t at fault.

We’re ready to help.

There is no cost or obligation associated with an initial case evaluation at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm. Call our Albuquerque office (505) 388-0066 or fill out our convenient online form, and we’ll match you with a lawyer for a completely free meeting.

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