A key part of any car accident injury claim is determining who is at fault. Each accident is unique, so our West Virginia car accident attorneys have to consider several different factors in each case. When a pedestrian is part of the equation, there are additional issues that must be evaluated. In this post, we answer some frequently asked questions about car accidents involving pedestrians.
Is a pedestrian accident always the driver's fault?
Every accident requires an investigation to determine liability, or who is at fault. There are instances where the pedestrian might have been reckless or negligent. Certain factors could cause a pedestrian to endanger his or her life, or to cause an accident through negligence (for example, impaired judgment due to alcohol or drug use, or a medical condition). Other accidents are caused by pedestrians who are simply distracted or careless, failing to pay attention to traffic around them. In any case, if the driver was being careful and following all traffic laws, and he or she was unable to avoid a pedestrian accident, the driver is not always legally liable. Once again, each case needs to be weighed separately.
If I am the driver and someone intentionally ran out in front of me, can I sue the pedestrian?
In a small number of cases, it can be possible to take legal action against the pedestrian, but it is extremely difficult: it is much easier to build a case against a driver. A case against a pedestrian requires witness statements and clear-cut evidence to demonstrate that the pedestrian was primarily at fault for the accident. In some situations, it may be possible to seek damages from other responsible parties, if it can be shown that they contributed to the pedestrian's actions.
As a pedestrian accident victim, when can I sue a driver?
If you can establish that the driver was at least partially at fault for your injuries in a pedestrian accident (for example, the driver was negligent, or impaired, or speeding, etc.), you are entitled to pursue a lawsuit. The amount you can recover is limited by the percentage the driver was at fault. That is one reason why it can be beneficial to consult a lawyer, whether you were the pedestrian or the driver: to determine the percentage of liability, and therefore the viability of a personal injury suit.
Can I seek damages from other parties (besides the driver who hit me) in a pedestrian accident?
Here again, it depends on the nature of the accident - but in certain cases, it's possible that another party could bear some measure of responsibility. For example, if the signal light was malfunctioning, or if the crosswalk or sidewalk were in disrepair, and these factors contributed to an accident, then the city or county responsible for maintenance could be found at least partially liable.
What if, as a pedestrian, the accident was partially my fault?
In many cases, you can still pursue an injury claim. It depends on several different issues, including the percentage of your fault and the specific circumstances of the accident (witnesses, road and traffic conditions, what actions were taken to avoid the accident, what traffic laws were - or weren't - being followed, etc). It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible: you'll want to have the accident investigated by a professional in accident reconstruction, so you can make a decision about the best way to move forward.
Each case is different and requires individual attention. If you've been involved in a pedestrian accident in North Central West Virginia, contact our office to find out if we can help. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-888-860-1414, or visit our website.