Can a Pedestrian Be Liable for a Car Accident?

When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian can suffer life-changing or even fatal injuries. The severity of a pedestrian’s injuries often makes people assume that fault must rest with the driver of the vehicle. However, this is not always the case. If the pedestrian was breaking one of Texas’ traffic laws or behaving carelessly at the time of the collision, the pedestrian could be liable for the car accident instead.

Pedestrian Rights-of-Way in Texas

Pedestrians do not automatically bear the right-of-way on every road in Texas. Texas Transportation Code Section 552.001 explains that at an intersection with a traffic control device, a pedestrian must obey the lighted sign. If a pedestrian receives a red light or “Don’t Walk” signal, the pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to drivers. If the pedestrian does not yield and enters the roadway when he or she is not permitted to do so by law, the pedestrian could be at fault for a resultant collision.

Texas law also states that when a control signal is not present, a pedestrian must wait to enter the road until it is safe to do so. Even if the pedestrian has the right-of-way, he or she cannot step off of a curb if an oncoming vehicle is approaching fast enough as to constitute a hazard. If, however, there was enough time for a driver to reasonably stop when the pedestrian stepped into the road, the driver could be liable for the collision.

In addition, no pedestrian in Texas may lawfully cross the road at a place between two marked intersections, other than a crosswalk. This is known as jaywalking. If a pedestrian does jaywalk, he or she could be liable for a car accident. Since drivers do not have a duty to expect pedestrians between intersections, they may not be responsible for a related car accident if the pedestrian crossed in front of the vehicle. Finally, pedestrians lawfully must stay on sidewalks or pedestrian paths. When these are available, a pedestrian cannot walk on the road.

Pedestrian Liability and Shared Fault Laws

Illegally crossing the road, stepping off a curb when it is not safe to do so, jaywalking or illegally walking in the road could all place the fault for a car accident with a pedestrian. In Texas, fault or liability for a car accident does not have to be all or nothing. The state has a modified comparative negligence law that can divide fault among two or more parties.

Texas’ law on proportionate responsibility states that as long as a claimant’s percentage of responsibility is less than 50%, he or she can still recover damages. If, however, a claimant’s fault is greater than 50%, he or she will lose all right to recover. In a pedestrian accident case, the injured pedestrian will have to prove that he or she was less than 50% accountable for the collision. Only in this scenario will the pedestrian be able to recover compensation for his or her losses.

A lesser degree of fault, such as 15% or 20%, will not bar a pedestrian from recovery in Texas. It will, however, reduce the pedestrian’s financial award proportionately. If a pedestrian was 20% to blame for texting while walking, for example, but a driver was 80% responsible for failing to yield, the pedestrian would receive 20% less in financial compensation. A $100,000 award given to the pedestrian would be reduced to $80,000 in this scenario.

Were You Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?

Liability is one of the most complicated legal doctrines involved in personal injury law. If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in Texas, contact a San Antonio car accident lawyer for assistance with your injury claim. You may need a lawyer’s help in proving a driver’s fault or combatting the comparative negligence defense. A lawyer can fight for maximum financial recovery on your behalf.

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