Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents

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In 2019, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents hit a 30-year high. Since most of these accidents happen outside marked crosswalks, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is usually traveling at or near top speed at the time of impact. When a 3,000-plus pound vehicle smacks into a 200-plus pound person, the results are usually tragic.

Contrary to popular myth, even if the victim wasn’t in a crosswalk with the right of way, an Edwardsville personal injury attorney can still obtain necessary compensation for victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Crosswalk Accidents

If a pedestrian is inside a permanent or virtual crosswalk and oncoming vehicle traffic must stop, fault is usually quite straightforward. A crosswalk is like an end line in soccer or tennis. If the ball is on any part of the line, it’s in play. Likewise, if the pedestrian’s path crosses any part of the marked lines, the pedestrian is usually in the crosswalk.

Frequently, pedestrians step into crosswalks on green, but they cannot make it to the other side before the light changes. That’s especially true if the pedestrian has any mobility impairment and the street is more than two lanes wide. Legally, these crossings are a liability grey area. Generally, if the pedestrian was physically healthy and/or the light included a flashing “Don’t Walk” warning or a countdown timer, these claims are non-crosswalk claims, for legal purposes.

Non-Crosswalk Injuries

When pedestrians don’t have the right-of-way, insurance companies can use various defenses to reduce or deny compensation. Comparative fault is a good example.

This defense, which often applies in jaywalking pedestrian claims, shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, if a victim crossed a very busy street against the light, jurors might conclude that the victim was mostly responsible for the wreck.

The law on this point varies in different states. Illinois is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Unless the tortfeasor is at least 51 percent responsible for the wreck, a victim cannot obtain compensation. However, in Missouri, even if a tortfeasor is only 1 percent responsible for a wreck, the tortfeasor is liable for a proportionate amount of damages.

Pedestrian accidents often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Walton Telken, LLC. We routinely handle cases in Missouri and Illinois.


What’s the biggest factor in pedestrian accidents?

Speed multiplies the risk of a pedestrian accident as well as the force of the collision.

Can jaywalkers sue drivers?

Yes, but these claims are rather complex.

What’s a virtual crosswalk?

Pedestrians push buttons that activate flashing yellow lights that command motorists to stop.

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