Auto/pedestrian accidents are potentially disastrous. Because of the weight of the vehicle and the pedestrian’s lack of protection, even low-speed contact can cause life-changing injuries. One major misunderstanding that the public at large holds on to, which in some cases leads pedestrians to be less careful than would be prudent, is that in an auto/pedestrian accident the driver is always at fault.
Who Is At Fault?
Everyone who uses our road system is held to the same standard of liability: they are required to act in a reasonably prudent manner. The misconception that an accident between an automobile and a pedestrian is “always the driver’s fault” arises from the fact that a reasonably prudent driver is expected to act with more caution than a reasonably prudent pedestrian. This, however, does not give a pedestrian carte blanche to act without exercising some amount of caution. Pedestrians have to obey all the traffic laws which are applicable, just as a person driving a car does. In fact, pedestrians typically have more ability to avoid accidents than drivers do, and are in full control of a situation when they choose to enter a roadway. Taking this into consideration, it is somewhat confusing that the vast majority of accidents between an automobile and a pedestrian occur inside of roadway areas: they occur because someone made the decision to place themselves in the spot where they were hurt.
Can Pedestrians Be Held Liable?
The short answer is absolutely yes. Not only can a pedestrian be held liable if their negligence causes an auto/pedestrian accident in a court of law, a driver’s insurance company can also pursue a pedestrian (or their next of kin, their various insurance companies, or their legal guardians) if they acted negligently and caused an accident. However your auto insurance company may be reluctant to pursue a claim against a pedestrian, particularly in the event that the pedestrian was killed in the accident. Because of this, you should consider your options prior to filing a claim with your insurance company: collecting from your insurance policy to repair your vehicle may subrogate your legal claim to the company, preventing you from bringing a lawsuit to recover any deductible amounts or other possible damages beyond what your claim provides. As with any major property or personal injury claim, it is usually in your best interests to discuss your situation with an attorney from the onset: insurance companies are businesses, and they have been known to place their best interests above those of their policyholders.
If You Are Involved In An Auto/Pedestrian Accident
As with any car accident, there are certain steps that you need to take in order to protect your interests, but due to the injuries that can be caused when a car hits a pedestrian, and the increased chances of there eventually being litigation, things become even more critical in this sort of situation. If you are in an accident:
- Take pictures of the scene and all the damage you can locate if at all possible.
- Exchange copies of your insurance information, driver’s license information, and descriptions of the vehicle(s) involved.
- Get contact information for any witnesses.
- Contact law enforcement, and make sure that there is a police report written up.
Automobile Accident Attorneys Can Help
An accident between vehicles is a complex enough matter to resolve, but when a pedestrian is involved and the chances of litigation increases substantially. It is always in your best interests to act proactively and retain an experienced Tampa auto accident attorney as soon as possible, to more successfully negotiate with the insurance companies, and to protect your interests in case the accident eventually results in litigation.