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Who Is to Blame for Pedestrian Car Accident Injuries?

Pedestrian car accidents can result in devastating injuries and damages, leaving victims and their families with significant physical, emotional, and financial burdens. When these accidents occur, it is crucial to determine who is liable and responsible for the harm caused. How negligence is determined, the applicable rights-of-way laws, and rules provided by the the Texas Transportation Code are all factors that can influence liability in pedestrian car accident cases.


In this blog, we will explore who is to blame for pedestrian car accident injuries in Texas, examine the legal framework and rights outlined by the Texas Transportation Code, and shed light on the responsibilities of both pedestrians and motorists involved in such accidents.


Who Is to Blame for Pedestrian Car Accident Injuries

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Texas Pedestrian Accident Law and Pedestrian Rights


Although the total number of car accident deaths in the United States has decreased in recent years, the number of pedestrian fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents has significantly increased. The statistics show that accidents involving pedestrians are happening more frequently, resulting in severe personal injuries.


Contrary to popular belief, the legal phrase "the pedestrian always has the right-of-way" is not entirely accurate. Pedestrians, like motorists, have specific duties and protections provided by the law. At Grossman Law Offices, we have represented numerous pedestrians who have been injured by cars.


The attorneys at Sneed & Mitchell diligently to ensure that our clients receive the maximum compensation possible and are not taken advantage of by insurance companies. Our pedestrian accident lawyers believe that informed clients are the best clients, which is why we have created this article to educate individuals on their rights, remedies, and responsibilities in the event of a pedestrian-car accident.


Pedestrians and Traffic Control Signals


When it comes to intersections without traffic signals, the question of who has the right-of-way can be complicated. According to Section 552.003 of the Texas Transportation Code, the answer is "yes" with some qualifications:


(a) The operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing a roadway in a crosswalk if:

(1) no traffic control signal is in place or in operation; and

(2) the pedestrian is:

(A) on the half of the roadway in which the vehicle is traveling; or

(B) approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and proceed into a crosswalk in the path of a vehicle so close that it is impossible for the vehicle operator to yield.


This section of the transportation code is interesting because it recognizes the right-of-way for pedestrians while also acknowledging the responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians to behave reasonably and safely. Although the law may not provide a clear-cut answer in all situations, it attempts to create a fair balance of duties and responsibilities between drivers and pedestrians that can work in the real world.


Duties Pedestrians Must Follow At Walk Signals


Contrary to popular belief, the Texas Transportation Code contains detailed laws outlining the responsibilities of pedestrians. It is a common misconception that pedestrians always have the right-of-way, but in reality, there are rules governing their behavior that parallel those of drivers. Chapter 552 of the Texas Transportation Code contains the full text of the law governing pedestrian use of roadways and sidewalks.


At intersections with "Walk/Don't Walk" signals, pedestrians must follow the same rules as drivers obeying traffic signals. Section 552.002 applies to pedestrian conduct at these intersections, stating that a pedestrian control signal displaying "Walk," "Don't Walk," or "Wait" applies to a pedestrian. A pedestrian facing a "Walk" signal has the right-of-way, and the operator of a vehicle must yield. However, a pedestrian may not start to cross a roadway in the direction of a "Don't Walk" signal or a "Wait" signal. If a pedestrian does cross the street when the signal reads "Don't Walk," they assume the risk of violating the law and can face consequences in the event of an accident.


While it is not illegal for a pedestrian to cross the street when the signal reads "Don't Walk," it is dangerous and can result in the denial of liability by the driver's insurance company if an accident occurs. The law is written to balance the responsibilities and duties of both drivers and pedestrians in a fair and equitable manner.


What if a Crosswalk Does Not Have a Traffic Signal?


It is a common belief that if an intersection lacks a traffic signal, then pedestrians automatically have the right-of-way. However, the reality is more complex and is addressed in Section 552.003 of the Texas Transportation Code.


(a) The operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing a roadway in a crosswalk if:

(1) no traffic control signal is in place or in operation; and

(2) the pedestrian is:

(A) on the half of the roadway in which the vehicle is traveling; or

(B) approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and proceed into a crosswalk in the path of a vehicle so close that it is impossible for the vehicle operator to yield.


This aspect of the law balances the duties and responsibilities of both drivers and pedestrians in an equitable way, allowing pedestrians to have the right-of-way while also ensuring they behave in a safe and responsible manner.


Although some may prefer clear-cut answers, this law's wording is meant to provide a fair solution that can work reasonably well in the real world, benefiting both drivers and pedestrians.


Rules For Pedestrians In Rural Areas


Although the previous rules apply to pedestrians in cities such as Houston, what about those who live in rural areas and have to cross highways on foot? Section 552.005 of the Texas Transportation Code provides some guidance:


Pedestrians crossing at a point other than a marked or unmarked crosswalk must yield to vehicles on the highway, with the exception of pedestrian tunnels, overhead pedestrian crossings, and marked crosswalks between adjacent intersections with traffic control signals. Pedestrians may only cross a roadway intersection diagonally if permitted by a traffic control device.


It's important to note that in this scenario, the right-of-way belongs to the motorist rather than the pedestrian. If a pedestrian decides to walk across a highway, they have a duty to yield to cars and cross safely. However, this does not mean that drivers are absolved of their duty to keep a proper lookout. Even if a pedestrian fails to yield the right of way, drivers must still exercise due care to avoid colliding with them.


This is especially true in situations where certain classes of people, such as children, those with developmental challenges, or those who are intoxicated, may change how the right-of-way works. Section 552.008 of the Transportation Code requires drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians, and to sound the horn and exercise proper precaution when observing a child or an obviously confused or incapacitated person on a roadway.


While it's true that pedestrians are more vulnerable than drivers due to their lack of protection, it is an exaggeration to say that pedestrians always have the right-of-way. However, drivers must always exercise due care to avoid hitting pedestrians, which means being vigilant and prepared to stop at any time.


Other Circumstances Relating to Pedestrians


The Texas Transportation Code outlines several circumstances that impose additional responsibilities on both motorists and pedestrians. Drivers are obligated to take extra precautions for blind pedestrians, who are easily identified by a white cane or service animal. The driver must take all necessary measures to avoid hitting the blind pedestrian, although they are not required to put themselves in danger to comply with this duty.


Pedestrians also have their own set of obligations, including obeying all traffic ordinances, using crosswalks and sidewalks when available, and walking on the extreme left of the road, against the flow of traffic, when there is no sidewalk. Additionally, soliciting beside the roadway is generally prohibited for pedestrians, except for charities, and only with the permission of local authorities.


Insurance Adjusters Often Try To Blame The Pedestrian


When it comes to accidents involving pedestrians, insurance adjusters often try to blame the victim no matter what the law says, a tactic commonly known as blame-shifting. This is because determining liability and fault can be complex and insurance companies aim to avoid paying compensation by relying on negative stereotypes of pedestrians being careless or reckless. As a result, the victim may end up being held responsible unless an attorney is able to prove their innocence in situations where the motorist was negligent or unsafe. Insurance adjusters may also try to pressure victims into giving a recorded statement that could be used against them later. It is important for pedestrians involved in accidents to seek legal representation to ensure that their rights are protected and that they are not unfairly blamed for the incident.


Common Causes of Pedestrian-Car Accidents


Pedestrian accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including driver behavior, pedestrian behavior, environmental factors, and vehicle malfunctions. Some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents are:


Distracted driving


Drivers who are distracted by their phone, music, or other things can easily miss seeing a pedestrian crossing the road. For example, a driver texting while driving and not paying attention to the road may not see a pedestrian crossing the street. The types of distracted driving are often categorized as visual, manual, and cognitive distractions, with all being considered aggravating factors in motor vehicle accidents.


Speeding


Drivers who are speeding are more likely to hit a pedestrian because they have less time to react. For example, a driver who is speeding through a residential area or school zones may not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian.


Drunk driving


Motorists who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are more likely to cause accidents because they have impaired judgment and reaction time. The intoxicated person may subjected to civil and criminal liability for their actions. A nightclub or bar that overserved the individual could also responsible for your injuries of local dram shop law.


Pedestrian negligence


Pedestrians who are not paying attention or are crossing the street illegally can also cause accidents. For example, a person who is jaywalking or crossing the street may not see an approaching vehicle and would be at-fault in causing the accident.


Poor lighting and visibility


Poor lighting and visibility can also contribute to pedestrian accidents. For example, a pedestrian who is walking in an area with poor lighting may not be seen by a driver, or a driver who is driving in a foggy area may not be able to see a pedestrian crossing the street.


Vehicle malfunctions


Vehicle malfunctions, such as faulty brakes or steering, can also contribute to pedestrian accidents. For example, a driver whose brakes fail may not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

It's worth noting that many pedestrian accidents are caused by a combination of factors and might subject product manufacturers, repair shops, or parts distributor to strict liability.


Contributory Negligence and Comparative Fault


Contributory negligence and comparative fault are Texas legal concepts that may come into play in pedestrian accidents. Contributory negligence, also called proportionate responsibility, is a legal doctrine that says if a pedestrian contributed to their own injury in any way, they cannot recover damages from the driver. On the other hand, comparative fault allows liability to be apportioned based on the degree of fault of each party involved in the accident. For example, if a pedestrian was crossing the street outside of a designated crosswalk, but the driver was eating while driving, the pedestrian may be found to be partially at fault for their own injuries, but the driver may also be found to be partially at fault. In this case, damages may be apportioned based on the degree of fault of each party involved. These legal concepts are important to consider in pedestrian accidents because they can affect the outcome of any legal proceedings or settlement negotiations.


Consult With A Texas Pedestrian Accident Attorney


Although the law may not be the unwavering supporter of pedestrian rights that some may believe, injured pedestrians can still sue for compensation. Our attorneys have won over 100 pedestrian accident cases, demonstrating that it is possible for injured pedestrians to win their cases.


However, pedestrian accident cases are not as straightforward as some may think. Insurance companies often use any perceived duty that the pedestrian failed to perform as a reason to deny their claim. This can be overwhelming for an injured pedestrian who is already dealing with mounting bills and lost wages as most cases involve broken bones, crush injuries, head injuries, concussions, fractured sternums or ribs, and scarring. That's why it's crucial to have an experienced accident attorney on your side who can handle the insurance company's ridiculous allegations.


While it may be tempting to think that "the pedestrian always has the right-of-way," the reality is much more complicated. Accidents involving commuters, bicyclists, and children require the attention of an experienced pedestrian accident attorney who has handled thousands of cases, like the attorneys at Sneed & Mitchell LLP. If you have questions about your case, don't hesitate to contact us at (855) 326-0000. We're available to answer your call 24/7.

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