In most pedestrian accidents, the passenger vehicle driver takes most or all of the blame. However, in some cases, the pedestrian may share part of the blame for a pedestrian accident.
What happens next? Hire a pedestrian accident lawyer? Reach out for help? Find out more below.
Why Might You Bear Partial Liability for a Pedestrian Accident?
You might bear partial liability for a pedestrian accident for several reasons.
Around 37 percent of pedestrian accident fatalities, according to the NHTSA, involve pedestrian intoxication. Inebriated pedestrians may make bad decisions or have difficulty navigating the roads safely, including paying attention to traffic signals.
While inebriated pedestrians may not pose the same risk as drunk drivers, inebriated pedestrians may still significantly increase the risk of an accident. If you were intoxicated and engaged in reckless or dangerous behavior, you may bear partial liability for the incident.
Pedestrians often suffer from several distractions, including cell phone use. Often, pedestrians have their attention locked on their devices instead of on the road around them, which may increase the risk that they will step out into the road without noticing the presence of a vehicle moving toward them.
Distraction can also make it more difficult to keep up with traffic signals, proving essential to safely cross the street. Furthermore, distracted pedestrians may move into the road without noticing it, rather than sticking to pedestrian lanes or staying safely on the sidewalk. If your distraction caused you to behave dangerously, you could bear partial liability for your pedestrian accident.
Ignoring the Rules of the Road
Pedestrians have to follow the same rules of the road as drivers and cyclists. Suppose pedestrians ignore the road rules, including failing to follow traffic signals or ignoring crosswalks in favor of crossing at the most convenient location for their needs. In that case, they may inadvertently cause a serious accident, just like drivers who ignore traffic signals and ultimately cause an accident.
When walking on the road or near it, you should always follow traffic signals and adhere to the rules, even when it might prove less convenient for you.
While inebriated pedestrians may have a higher risk of engaging in reckless behavior for several reasons, sober pedestrians may also struggle to fully adhere to the standards of reasonable behavior. For example, a reckless pedestrian might choose to dart across the road in front of a car or step out into a crosswalk despite seeing heavy traffic.
Horsing around near the road could also raise the risk of an accident, even when the pedestrian might otherwise feel safe or have the ability to avoid a collision. Engaging in reckless behavior around the road can raise the risk of a severe accident.
Suppose the officer that responds to your accident believes that your reckless behavior could have contributed to the accident. In that case, the officer will note it on the police report. However, the driver involved in your accident may sometimes share information about your behavior that could indicate that you bear partial liability during the insurance company’s investigation.
Working with a lawyer can help you determine exactly who bears liability for your pedestrian accident, including whether you may share liability.
What Happens if You are Partially to Blame for a Pedestrian Accident?
If you share liability for the events that led to a pedestrian accident, do not admit liability when talking to the insurance company. Avoid “brushing off” or pardoning the driver’s actions when talking to the police immediately after the accident. Sometimes, you may discover that you do not bear as much liability as you thought.
If the insurance company does find that you bear liability for the accident, several things may happen.
You Can Still File a Claim
Florida has a comparative negligence system. Under that system, more than one party may bear liability for an accident, including an auto accident. In the case of your pedestrian accident, that means that you may share liability with the driver that caused your accident. Even if you share liability, you may still file a claim against the insurance company that covers the driver who caused your accident.
Shared Liability May Reduce Your Compensation
According to Florida’s comparative negligence laws, sharing liability for your pedestrian accident can reduce the compensation you can recover for your injuries and losses.
You Will Need a Lawyer
Sometimes, pedestrian accident claims can prove relatively straightforward. You prove the injuries you sustained and the medical bills you faced. You may have the right to compensation for those financial losses and compensation for your pain and suffering. However, in pedestrian accidents with shared liability cases, the claim can quickly become much more complex.
The insurance company may quickly try to prove that you bear most or even all of the liability for the accident. On the other hand, your lawyer can help collect evidence establishing the driver’s negligence and how much fault the driver bears for the accident.
Your lawyer can also:
- Identify areas of compensation you may not have known about on your own or that you may not have fully considered.
- Make sure that you understand all your rights.
- Help you deal with the insurance company in a way that will maximize the odds that you will recover the total compensation you deserve.
- Fight for you if your claim has to go to court or you have any additional needs.
Trying to handle a pedestrian accident claim on your own can make it very difficult for you to establish your right to compensation. Pedestrian accidents can prove very complicated, and often, you may have relatively little proof regarding who caused your accident. Around 18 percent of pedestrian accident fatalities involve a driver that flees the accident scene. A lawyer can help you collect the evidence you may need and fight on your behalf.
Your Accident May Involve a More Complex Investigation
In the case of pedestrian accidents involving shared liability, both the insurance company and your attorney may want to conduct a more thorough investigation into the accident’s details. A full investigation can help uncover vital evidence to precisely establish who caused the accident and whether you deserve compensation for those injuries. Your attorney and the insurance company may want to look into several factors.
Did either party suffer from intoxication at the time of the incident?
Both driver and pedestrian inebriation can substantially impact the risks associated with a pedestrian accident. You may suffer much more severe injuries or put yourself in much more danger overall due to inebriation on the road.
Where did the accident occur?
According to the NHTSA, more pedestrian accidents occur outside crosswalks than in them, and more common pedestrian accidents in urban areas. Both your lawyer and the insurance company may want to carefully look at where the accident occurred. Did it happen in a marked crosswalk? Does the area include any features that could cause poor visibility and increase the risk of an accident? A careful investigation of the area can make it easier to determine what may have contributed to the accident.
Did anyone see the accident?
Witness testimony can prove essential in establishing liability for a pedestrian accident, especially when the driver and the pedestrian may share liability for the incident. Your lawyer and the insurance company may want to speak to any witnesses. Ideally, they will want to connect with those witnesses as soon as possible since witness memory may fade rapidly following the accident.
Does any traffic camera footage exist of the accident?
Traffic camera footage, security camera footage, or even dashcam footage from the driver’s vehicle can be essential in establishing what led to the accident. A careful review of traffic camera footage can make it much easier to determine what factors may have contributed to the accident. Both the insurance company and your legal team can go to the accident scene, making it easier to pick out the critical factors that may have contributed to the incident.
Can an expert witness help with the investigation?
Often, an expert witness can provide much-needed insight into the cause of a pedestrian accident. Expert witnesses can help recreate the accident scene, giving the insurance company and your lawyer a better idea of exactly what took place. Both sides may work with their expert witnesses as they try to reconstruct what caused the accident and give you a better idea of the percentage liability you bear for the accident.
You May Have Higher Odds of Going to Court
Most pedestrian accident claims do settle out of court. However, you may have increased odds of going to court to settle your claim effectively in some cases.
In cases with disputed liability, you may spend more time arguing over who bears fault. You and the insurance company might not come to a reasonable agreement regarding how much liability you bear for your pedestrian accident and the associated injuries.
In some cases, that may make it much more difficult to come to terms with the full compensation you deserve. If you and the insurance company cannot reach a reasonable agreement regarding the compensation you deserve, you may need to go to court to establish liability.
You May Have the Right to Use Your PIP Insurance
In addition to liability policies on their vehicles, Florida drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance that helps provide essential coverage in an auto accident. In some cases, you may have the right to use your PIP coverage for a pedestrian accident, even though you did not suffer those injuries while in your vehicle.
Talk to your insurance company to learn more about what coverage you may have, or discuss your policy and your coverage with your lawyer to learn how you can cover the cost of pedestrian accident injuries more effectively.
Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer for Help
A pedestrian accident claim in which the pedestrian bears partial liability can prove particularly difficult to navigate. Working with a lawyer can often streamline the claim process and make it easier to establish the driver’s liability for the accident. Contact a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about your next steps and your right to compensation.