April 7, 2024 | Article by Matt Clark

If I am injured by a motor vehicle or a loved one is killed as a pedestrian, can I sue the motor vehicle that hit me, or my family member?

Yes. As long as you can establish that the motor vehicle driver was at least partially at fault, you are entitled to bring a lawsuit.

What if I was partially at fault for the accident because I was walking outside of a crosswalk or running across the street?

You can still bring a lawsuit as long as the driver who hit you was also partially at fault. However, your eventual recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

If I am a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle, is there anyone else I can sue other than the motor vehicle driver?

Yes. Anybody whose fault contributed to the accident that caused your injuries can be sued. This can include a public entity if a crossing was in an unsafe condition, the company that repaired the brakes on the motor vehicle that hit you if the brakes were repaired negligently, or any other entity or person that contributed to your injuries.

If I am a pedestrian, does a motor vehicle driver owe any special duty or care toward me under law?

It is well-recognized that although pedestrians and drivers are both charged with a duty to exercise ordinary care, the amount of care required of the driver is greater since the driver is driving a vehicle capable of inflicting injury or death. Motorists have a duty to have their vehicles under sufficient control to enable them to avoid injury to pedestrians.

As a pedestrian, what duty is placed upon me to avoid accidents?

Pedestrians are required by statute to obey traffic signs and signals. Therefore, every pedestrian has the duty, before entering a street, to make reasonably careful observations to ascertain the traffic conditions to be encountered. Pedestrians should not begin or continue their forward course across a street if they are aware of approaching vehicles.

Is a driver always at fault for an accident if the pedestrian is in or near a crosswalk?

No. Although a motor vehicle driver is required to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the driver is not required to anticipate that a
pedestrian may suddenly run out from the curb directly into the path of the driver’s car.

If my child has been injured or killed by a motor vehicle when he or she was a pedestrian, what are our rights?

The law recognizes that greater care must be exercised for the protection and safety of young children than for adults possessing normal and mature faculties. The law recognizes that children’s conduct is unpredictable and one operating a motor vehicle should anticipate their thoughtlessness and impulsiveness. The presence of children itself is a warning of danger requiring an exercise of care for their safety. Thus, a motor vehicle driver must exercise a greater degree of care when they know or should know that small children are at play in the immediate area. A driver even owes a duty to anticipate the presence of the children he cannot see. Thus, with the exception of a case in which a child darts out in front of a vehicle and a driver has no opportunity to stop and has no reason to anticipate the dart-out, you should be able to prevail in a case against the vehicle driver.

What if I, or one of my family members, is injured or killed by an uninsured/underinsured motorist while we were pedestrians?

An uninsured or underinsured motorist policy will probably provide coverage for the injuries or death to you or your family. Thus, you will be able to recover damages up to the amount of your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy limit.

What damages are recoverable in pedestrian accident cases?

The plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, and if it is deemed that conduct is bad enough, punitive damages (i.e., punishment damages against the defendant). If the pedestrian dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for the economic losses that result from the pedestrian’s death, as well as emotional distress damages that stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent. If the survivors can prove that the pedestrian lived for a period of time between the negligent act and death, they can also bring an action for punitive damages.