Can a Pedestrian be at Fault for a Car Accident?

February 26, 2024 | David Abels
Can a Pedestrian be at Fault for a Car Accident?

Insurance companies sometimes try to allege that a pedestrian caused or contributed to an accident. However, in almost all situations, pedestrian accidents occur when drivers violate traffic laws or drive carelessly and recklessly.

Since pedestrians do not have a protective barrier surrounding them, they often stand to suffer extremely serious injuries in an accident scenario. If they fall to the ground, they may suffer debilitating injuries and other serious – and potentially lifelong – complications.

A knowledgeable Chicago pedestrian accident attorney in your area can help if you suffered injuries in a recent pedestrian accident. Your attorney can investigate your accident circumstances and assemble various claim documents to file on your behalf. Your lawyer can also negotiate with the insurance company for a favorable settlement offer. If the insurance company persists in denying liability, your lawyer may file a lawsuit and bring your case to a favorable resolution in the state court system.

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How do Drivers Cause Pedestrian Accidents?

Pedestrian accidents often result from a range of careless behaviors that drivers exhibit, highlighting the importance of responsible and cautious driving. One prevalent factor contributing to such accidents is distracted driving. When drivers divert their attention from the road to use electronic devices, adjust settings, or engage in other distracting activities, they become more prone to missing pedestrians. This lack of focus can lead to collisions, especially in areas with heavy foot traffic.

Failure to yield the right-of-way is also a common driver behavior that puts pedestrians at risk. Drivers must give pedestrians the right-of-way in designated crosswalks, intersections, and other specified areas. Neglecting this responsibility can lead to serious accidents and debilitating injuries.

A young woman assesses a victim involved in a motor vehicle collision.

Speeding is another significant contributor to pedestrian accidents. When drivers exceed posted speed limits or fail to adjust their speed in areas with pedestrians, the likelihood of accidents increases significantly. Higher speeds may also reduce a driver's reaction time and the distance required to stop, making it challenging to avoid collisions with pedestrians who may unexpectedly enter the roadway.

Disregarding traffic signals and signs is another common way drivers contribute to pedestrian accidents. Ignoring stop signs, red lights, or failing to yield when required can result in collisions with pedestrians following established traffic laws. This disobedience of traffic regulations undermines the overall safety of pedestrians.

Moreover, impaired driving, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication, significantly elevates the risk of pedestrian accidents. Impaired drivers may exhibit slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and compromised coordination, all heightening the potential for collisions with pedestrians unaware of the impending danger.

Lastly, drivers who engage in aggressive behaviors, such as acceleration, abrupt lane changes, or tailgating, pose a severe threat to pedestrians. Aggressive driving can create an unpredictable and hazardous environment for pedestrians, who may find it challenging to anticipate the actions of drivers exhibiting such behaviors.

Addressing these common ways drivers contribute to pedestrian accidents underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to road safety. By promoting responsible driving habits, adhering to traffic regulations, and fostering awareness, drivers can create safer environments for everyone on the road.

Locations Where Pedestrian Accidents are Most Likely

Pedestrian accidents are more likely to occur in areas where high foot traffic converges with vehicular activity. Some of the most common locations for pedestrian accidents include:

  • Urban settings, including busy traffic intersections 
  • Shopping districts
  • Residential neighborhoods
  • School zones 
  • Parking lots and garages
  • Intersections with turning lanes and complex traffic signals 
  • Areas with inadequate lighting and poorly maintained road infrastructure
  • Public transportation hubs, such as bus stops or train stations

Understanding the specific characteristics of these locations can guide efforts to enhance pedestrian safety. Safe driving, improved infrastructure, and increased signage can mitigate the risks associated with these common areas where pedestrian accidents are more likely to happen.

What Happens When a Pedestrian's Body Strikes the Ground in an Accident?

When a pedestrian's body strikes the ground due to an accident resulting from negligent driving, the consequences can be severe and life-altering. The effects of such an incident can cause a range of immediate and long-term injuries, depending on various factors like the vehicle's speed, the angle of impact, and the physical condition of the pedestrian.

One of the most common outcomes is orthopedic injuries, affecting the bones and joints. Fractures, dislocations, and sprains are prevalent when a pedestrian collides with the ground forcefully. These injuries often require immediate medical attention, surgeries, and extensive rehabilitation to regain functionality.

Traumatic head injuries are another significant concern when a pedestrian's body makes contact with the ground during a collision. Even with the use of helmets or protective gear, the collision can result in concussions, skull fractures, or traumatic brain injuries. These injuries may have profound and lasting effects on an accident victim's cognitive abilities, memory, and enjoyment of life.

Soft tissue injuries, including cuts, bruises, and abrasions, are almost inevitable in such situations. The force of the collision can cause the accident victim's skin to tear, leading to open wounds that may require stitches or other medical interventions. Contusions and hematomas may also develop beneath the skin, causing pain and swelling.

Spinal injuries are also a grave concern in pedestrian accidents. The sudden and forceful impact on the ground can damage the accident victim's spine, potentially causing fractures, herniated discs, or spinal cord injuries. In the worst cases, spinal injuries can result in paralysis, affecting a person's mobility and daily life permanently.

Psychological trauma often accompanies physical injuries. The emotional aftermath of a pedestrian accident can lead to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. The psychological toll may require therapy and counseling to help the victim cope with the trauma and move toward a full recovery.

In fatal cases, striking the ground can lead to catastrophic injuries, resulting in loss of life. Negligent driving that causes such accidents has immediate consequences for the victim and leaves a lasting impression on their loved ones.

Understanding the potential outcomes when a pedestrian's body makes contact with the ground emphasizes the critical need for preventive measures and responsible driving. The implications of negligent actions extend beyond the immediate incident, affecting the injured pedestrian's physical, emotional, and social well-being.

Proving Fault and Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident Claim or Lawsuit

In establishing a pedestrian accident claim or lawsuit, several essential elements are necessary to build a compelling case. The first element demonstrates the duty owed by the defendant, typically the driver. This duty entails adhering to traffic laws, exercising reasonable care, and prioritizing the safety of pedestrians sharing the road. Commonly, this duty is grounded in the obligation to follow speed limits, yield the right-of-way, and avoid actions that may endanger pedestrians.

The second element involves establishing a breach of that duty by the defendant. This breach signifies a failure to meet the standard of care expected in the given circumstances. It often revolves around the specific actions or inactions of the driver that directly contributed to the pedestrian accident. Examples may include distracted driving, speeding, failure to yield, or disregarding traffic signals.

Proving causation is the third crucial element. This illustrates a direct link between the defendant's breach of duty and the injuries the pedestrian sustained. It necessitates demonstrating that the driver's negligent actions were a substantial factor leading to the accident and subsequent harm. Establishing causation may involve presenting evidence such as witness testimony, traffic camera footage, or professional opinions.

Finally, establishing damages is paramount in a pedestrian accident case. This involves demonstrating the actual harm or losses the pedestrian suffered from the accident. Damages can encompass medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost income, property damage, and intangible losses like pain and suffering. Documenting and presenting a comprehensive account of these damages strengthens the case for compensation.

Witness statements, accident reconstruction analyses, medical records, and professional testimony can all play crucial roles in substantiating these elements of proof. Pedestrian accident attorneys often rely on a thorough investigation and collection of evidence to construct a persuasive narrative that illustrates the defendant's breach of duty, the causal connection to the pedestrian's injuries, and the resulting damages incurred.

Successfully navigating a pedestrian accident claim involves meticulously examining the circumstances, supported by a robust presentation of evidence. Demonstrating duty, breach, causation, and damages collectively creates a compelling case with a better chance of securing just compensation for the injured pedestrian.

Bench Trials Versus Jury Trials in Pedestrian-accident Cases

A pedestrian accident case may need trial if the at-fault party's insurance company denies fault for the accident or simply refuses to offer the injured pedestrian sufficient financial compensation for their injuries.

The decision of whether a pedestrian accident case goes to a bench or jury trial hinges on several factors that legal professionals carefully evaluate. One primary consideration is the complexity of the case. If the circumstances surrounding the accident are straightforward, with clear liability and minimal disputed facts, it may be more suitable for a bench trial. In such instances, a judge is deemed adept at objectively interpreting the law and making a fair determination based on the presented evidence.

Conversely, cases marked by complexity, ambiguity, or conflicting narratives often lean towards a jury trial. Jurors can provide diverse perspectives, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of the evidence. Their varied experiences and backgrounds may aid in deciphering intricate details, making them particularly valuable in cases with multiple contested aspects.

A close-up view of a young man lying injured on the road after a car accident.

The nature and extent of the pedestrian's injuries may also influence the trial type. Attorneys may opt for a jury trial if the injuries are severe or have long-term consequences. Jurors, with their capacity for empathy, might be more inclined to consider the full impact of the injuries on the victim's life, potentially leading to more substantial compensation.

Another determining factor is the legal strategy that the involved parties employ. If the injured pedestrian and at-fault party anticipate legal arguments or precedents playing a crucial role in the case's outcome, they may opt for a bench trial. Judges often possess the skills to interpret and apply the law precisely, making them suitable for cases with complex legal nuances.

Considerations regarding time and cost also play a role. Bench trials typically progress more efficiently, saving time and expenses associated with empaneling and managing a jury. However, if parties believe that a jury's collective judgment aligns more closely with their case's nuances, they might prioritize the potential benefits over the associated costs and delays.

Ultimately, deciding to pursue a bench or jury trial in a pedestrian accident case involves meticulously analyzing the case's unique characteristics. Legal professionals weigh complexity, injury severity, legal nuances, and practical considerations to determine the most strategic approach.

Recovering Monetary Damages for Pedestrian-accident Losses

Pedestrian accident victims have the potential to recover a wide range of damages, both economic and non-economic, through settlement negotiations or litigation. Economic damages are tangible and quantifiable losses directly tied to the accident. Medical expenses – a significant component of economic damages – encompass the costs of immediate and ongoing healthcare needs. This may include hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and other necessary treatments. Additionally, victims can seek compensation for future medical expenses related to their injuries.

Loss of earnings is another economic damage recoverable by pedestrian accident victims. Victims are entitled to compensation for lost income if the injuries sustained lead to the inability to work temporarily or permanently. This extends to future earning capacity if the injuries affect their ability to pursue their chosen profession and make money.

Property damage constitutes another common economic loss. In pedestrian accidents, this often includes damage to personal belongings, such as clothing, electronics, or other items carried by the victim at the time of the incident. Compensation for repairing or replacing these items is recoverable.

Nonetheless, non-economic damages are equally crucial and address the intangible effect of the accident on the victim's life. Pain and suffering, a common category of non-economic damage, compensates victims for physical discomfort, emotional distress, and the overall toll on their well-being. This category also aims to acknowledge the subjective and often enduring aspects of the victim's suffering beyond their measurable economic losses.

Loss of consortium is another non-economic damage that addresses the effects on the injured accident victim's relationships with others. This recognizes the deprivation of familial relationships, companionship and the overall disruption to the victim's personal life due to the accident. Spouses or family members may be entitled to compensation for the loss of support and companionship resulting from the pedestrian's injuries.

Whether through settlement or litigation, recovering both economic and non-economic damages is crucial for compensating pedestrian accident victims comprehensively. The combination of these damages aims to address the financial, physical, and emotional toll the accident has taken on the individual, providing a means for them to rebuild their lives and move forward.

Call a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Right Away About Your Case

If you recently sustained injuries in a pedestrian accent, an experienced personal injury attorney in Chicago can help. Your lawyer can first file a claim with the at-fault party's insurance carrier and pursue a favorable settlement offer on your behalf. Suppose the insurance company disputes fault for the accident or refuses to compensate you fairly. In that case, your lawyer may file a lawsuit in the court system and litigate your case to an efficient conclusion.

David Abels Author Image

David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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