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Pedestrian Accidents: What Should Know About Your Legal Rights

Accidents involving pedestrians are slightly less common than car accidents. Still, about 70,000 pedestrians are involved each year in serious accidents with vehicles.

school crossing

In some cases careless pedestrians may be at least partially responsible for their own injuries, but liable motorists are to blame in many instances as well.

Some common circumstances contribute to pedestrian accidents can include:

  • Distracted drivers
  • Pedestrians who ignore crosswalk cues
  • Drivers who ignore crosswalk signals
  • Intoxicated drivers or intoxicated pedestrians
  • Jaywalking
  • Individuals doing repairs to a vehicle in a highly trafficked area like a highway
  • Passing a school bus
  • Inattention by involved parties

Driver responsibility
Drivers have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care when operating their vehicles. This includes a responsibility to other drivers, but to pedestrians as well. This duty of care means that drivers must be mindful of pedestrians and drivers in urban and residential areas, and be aware of signs that indicate the presence of pedestrians, children, etc. Failure to act in this way can result in drivers’ actions being classified as “negligent.”

Accident Locations

Residential/school zones

The duty of care that drivers have is increased when they are passing through areas with higher concentrations of pedestrians. This includes residential areas and neighborhoods that have schools. Most of these areas will indicate lower speed limits with signs, but even if there are no visible signs, it is the duty of the motorist to be careful and observant and recognize that the presence of children might make for situations where the motorist will have to react suddenly. For instance, children playing may unexpectedly chase a ball into the street, or a child may slip and fall in the street, run out from behind a bus, or suddenly appear from behind a car.

Just because an action is unexpected does not mean the motorist is less liable, especially in zones where increased numbers of children or pedestrians are expected. Children are not expected to exercise the same amount of care that is expected of adults. Some reports calim as many as 25,000 children are injured just walking home from school every year.

Freeway Accidents
We see people walking or biking along the freeway sometimes and remark on it because it is generally very unsafe. These are not places that people should be walking. When people run across the freeway, stand along the freeway, or engage in other risky actions, they are not acting in a manner that indicates they are observant of their own reasonable duty of care. You generally cannot expect others to be responsible for your well being, while acting carelessly.

At times drivers may strike pedestrians, who are not acting carelessly. If a driver has to stop on the side of the road to get out of their vehicle and address a problem, that driver becomes a pedestrian. If the pedestrian is then struck by another motorist, the fault may lie with the motorist. There may be other circumstances which contribute to the accident, like dark or poorly lit roadways, narrow roads, or some other deficiency in design, some of the responsibility may lie with the city, county, or municipality. In situations like these, there can be shared liability between the motorist, pedestrian, and some other entity, depending on what situations and decisions contributed to the accident.

Legal Options

When pedestrians are injured in an accident, they must sue the negligent party/parties for damages, since pedestrians will not be insured. Injured pedestrians should contact a Missouri personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you regarding the best course of action and will help you get the compensation you deserve.

Updated: September 21, 2020