Who’s at Fault For a Pedestrian Accident?
One of the expectations of Mississippi drivers is that they will maintain control of their vehicle the best they can in any given situation. This is especially important near crosswalks and other places where people cross the street on foot. The sheer size and weight of a car, truck, motorcycle, or commercial vehicle means that any person who collides with it is likely to die or sustain serious injuries. In most cases, the driver is the one who bears responsibility in an accident involving a pedestrian.
Drivers Owe Pedestrians a Duty of Care
State law refers to the expectation of safe driving as a duty of care. It holds every driver to the standard that a reasonable, prudent, and careful person would use in the same situation. Mississippi law requires drivers to demonstrate extra vigilance by keeping their car under strict control in areas where pedestrians are known to cross the street or where they could reasonably expect this to happen.
As an example of the above, assume a driver slowed down to 20 miles per hour when approaching a crosswalk. That would be safe under most circumstances, but this driver failed to look far enough ahead to see that a child was about to enter the crosswalk on his or her bike and was unsteady on the bike as well. That driver would still be liable for any injuries suffered by the child because a reasonable person would have seen him or her in enough time and slowed down even more or stopped the vehicle altogether.
Determining Pedestrian Responsibility in an Accident
Although a normal, cautious driver would avoid hitting a pedestrian, it isn’t always possible due to the actions of the pedestrian. For example, he or she may midjudge traffic and run into the middle of the road attempting to get to the other side as quickly as possible. The pedestrian’s errors here would be not crossing at a traffic light if one was available and running into oncoming traffic. If a normal person driving cautiously could not avoid the collision, the judge or jury would likely rule in favor of the driver.
A pedestrian can also be liable for causing injuries to a driver and his or her passengers as well as damage to the vehicle. An example here would be a pedestrian dressed in dark clothing walking along the side of a highway at night. A driver who sustains vehicle damage and injuries because he or she had to swerve to avoid hitting the pedestrian would likely recover some compensation.
Who Qualifies as a Pedestrian?
Although a pedestrian is typically someone traveling by foot, it could also include someone riding a bicycle, a skateboarder, a person in a manual or electronic wheelchair, or someone using roller skates or blades. They must also follow pedestrian safety laws such as using a controlled intersection to cross the street or waiting for traffic to stop at a non-controlled intersection.
When Both Parties Share Blame
Sometimes neither the driver nor the pedestrian is 100 percent at fault for the accident. For example, the pedestrian may have been guilty of jaywalking but the driver would not have hit him or her if not speeding. Because of the complexity of these situations, it’s in your best interest to work with a personal injury attorney from Gardner Law Firm whether you were the driver or the pedestrian involved in an accident.
Unlike some states that bar injured people from collecting damages if they shared any responsibility for the accident, Mississippi is a contributory negligence state. That means the judge or jury would reduce the amount of your lawsuit based on your percentage of blame. With so much at stake, it’s important to retain an experienced attorney who can prove that you share little or no blame in the accident and that you’re entitled to the highest possible compensation.
Gardner Law Firm offers free consultations for all new clients. Please contact us in Biloxi at 228-436-6555, Hattiesburg at 601-582-4300, or Pascagoula at 228-762-6555 to request your appointment.