Pedestrian accidents are known for their devastating potential to cause significant harm. Pedestrians do not have armor, and they often experience catastrophic or even fatal injuries when they are involved in traffic collisions involving motor vehicles. Fortunately, personal injury law allows pedestrians who have been hurt by the negligence of others to recover financial compensation for their damages from the at fault party. But what happens when a pedestrian is at fault for causing the crash?
While we have long heard “pedestrians always have the right of way,” in driving safety classes, it is important to remember that pedestrians, just like any other person on the road, can be at fault for causing an accident. When it comes to pedestrian accidents, pedestrians can cause or contribute to a crash in a number of ways, including:
- Violating traffic laws
- Disobeying walk signals
- Crossing the street outside of a crosswalk
- Darting into traffic
Most pedestrian accidents are caused by driver negligence, such as drunk driving, distracted driving, and disobeying traffic laws, but that does not mean all. Pedestrians can very well cause an accident entirely or play a role in contributing to a crash. Texas law outlines what happens in both of these situations.
Depending on the individual facts of a case, pedestrians who are at fault for causing an accident may still be eligible to recover at least some portion of their damages from the other at fault party. This is because Texas uses what is known as the modified comparative negligence rule. This rule is a formula used in the allocation of fault in personal injury cases where both a plaintiff and a defendant played at least some part in contributing to a crash. It works as follows:
- Percentage of fault – When both a pedestrian and a driver contribute to a crash, the modified comparative negligence rule calls for a percentage of fault to be allocated to both parties. For example, a pedestrian who crossed the street outside of a crosswalk is partly to blame for a crash. However, the driver involved was texting at the time, and should have avoided the accident if not for their negligence. In this situation, fault would be assigned to both parties.
- Reduced damages – The percentage of fault assigned to each party will dictate how much compensation a victim is eligible to receive, as their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, a pedestrian with $100,000 in damages is found to be 20% at fault, while the driver is 80% at fault. This means the pedestrian would only be able to recover $80,000, which is the full amount of their damages reduced by 20%.
- 51 / 50 rule – Under modified comparative negligence, pedestrians will not be able to recover if they are more at fault for causing an accident than the other party. If a pedestrian is 51% or more at fault for causing a crash, they will be unable to recover any compensation.
Injured pedestrians depend on securing full and fair compensation to cover their medical care, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and future needs, all of which can be substantial when injuries are severe. However, if they played any role in causing or contributing to a crash, their ability to recover what they truly need can be diminished or barred altogether. Insurance companies will often work aggressively to assign fault to victims when possible, as it means they pay out less, if anything at all.
By working with Stern Law Group, you can gain the help of Houston car accident attorneys who have helped recover hundreds of millions of dollars in verdict and settlements for injured clients. We know that insurance companies may try to assign victims blame, which is why we work aggressively to conduct thorough investigations and help our clients pursue the maximum compensation possible.