We all know how annoying it is when a driver plows through a crosswalk without yielding. But who is at fault when an accident between a driver and a pedestrian occurs? You may be surprised by the answer. Here at Gillespie & Co., our Kamloops personal injury lawyers have seen cases where pedestrians have succumbed to injury because they were distracted by their phone or thought they had the right of way.
While pedestrians cannot control whether drivers stay off their phones, they can reduce their own risk by always being aware of their surroundings when crossing the street.
Safety Before Right of Way
Whether it is the driver or the pedestrian, one of the first statements a personal injury lawyer often hears is, “I had the right of way.” This begs the question, “Do pedestrians always have the right of way”? And, does having a right of way mean that you are not to blame for an accident?
First, having a right of way does not give a pedestrian the unrestricted right to step into a crosswalk, regardless of oncoming traffic. What does this mean? Regardless of right of way, every pedestrian has a duty to take care of his or her own safety and to stop for any immediate hazards. A pedestrian using a crosswalk must first look for oncoming traffic and must yield to any traffic that is close enough to the intersection that it poses an immediate risk or hazard. Until a pedestrian has yielded to oncoming traffic that poses an immediate hazard, he/she does NOT have the right of way.
Look Before You Leap
After looking both ways and determining that no traffic poses an immediate risk, a pedestrian may enter the crosswalk. At this point, the pedestrian has the right of way but the duty to take care for his/her own safety remains.
Every pedestrian should remain vigilant while crossing the street. Be on the lookout for drivers who, for whatever reason, may not see you and make sure to:
- Keep the buds out of your ears
- Turn your music off
- Stop texting your friends
It only takes a few seconds to cross the street. By being attentive, you can save yourself from serious injury or worse.
Who’s at Fault and When Do I Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
What surprises a lot of people is that the driver is not always 100% at fault simply because an accident occurred in a crosswalk. In determining fault for the accident, the court looks at the pedestrian’s conduct as well.
A number of factors may influence how fault is assigned to the parties. For example, did the pedestrian run or jog into the crosswalk? Did the pedestrian maintain a lookout while crossing the street? Was the pedestrian listening to music, which prevented him/her from seeing the vehicle? Was the pedestrian doing anything else that he/she ought not to have been doing? If the court finds that the pedestrian failed to take reasonable care for his/her own safety, it may assign some fault to the pedestrian.
So please, take care when you are crossing the street. Avoiding an accident altogether is always better than talking to a personal injury lawyer about your rights after the fact.
If you or a member of your family have been injured in an accident and want to find out what your rights are, contact Gillespie’s personal injury lawyers in Kamloops for a free consultation. We will learn more about your situation and give insight into what legal steps you may be able to take.