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When is a Pedestrian at Fault in a Car Accident?

— March 31, 2022

In many cases, both the car’s driver and a pedestrian are responsible for the accident.

Although pedestrians always have the right-of-way, they can still share the liability for auto accidents. According to the information offered by legal experts, pedestrians can be partly or wholly responsible for causing an accident. The disparity of damages notwithstanding – pedestrians tend to be more easily injured than vehicle passengers – pedestrians can share fault for an accident and reduce their compensation for any injuries.

The Laws of Negligence

The laws of negligence usually determine a pedestrian’s percentage of fault in an accident. Just like drivers, this can have a dramatic impact on a pedestrian’s ability to recover compensation for injuries. Therefore, one of the key concepts of personal injury law is the classic requirement that any person exercises reasonable care under certain circumstances.

Drivers and pedestrians are responsible for obeying traffic laws and following the road rules. That means pedestrians can’t just jump out into a crosswalk when cars have considerable momentum, making it difficult for drivers to stop in time. If pedestrians cause these situations, they can be held 100% responsible for the accident.

If pedestrians fail to exercise reasonable care when crossing roads, highways, or parking lots, they will be held at fault or partly at fault. This applies even when pedestrians aren’t injured. For example, a driver might take evasive action to avoid hitting a negligent pedestrian and hit parked cars instead. As a result, the pedestrians can be held responsible for the accident. That’s fine if the pedestrian has insurance coverage. Still, it could be devastating for people without any insurance who never expected to pay for expensive damages to cars and injuries to people.

How Partial Liability Works

The first thing to determine is whether your state is an at-fault or no-fault auto insurance state. For instance, Ohio is a no-fault state, which means that PIP insurance typically pays for the driver’s and any passenger’s injuries. Therefore, if you have PIP insurance for driving, you’ll be covered for any pedestrian injuries. However, you might need to hire a pedestrian attorney to defend yourself against a lawsuit for damages initiated by the vehicle’s driver or passengers.

The scenarios in which a pedestrian is held responsible for an accident include the following:

  • Crossing the street in areas other than corners or crosswalks
  • Failing to obey a traffic signal
  • Crossing the street while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Walking on roads where pedestrians are prohibited
  • Crossing the road without checking traffic

Following our previous example, if you are involved in an auto accident as a pedestrian, you should get a car accident lawyer in Ohio. Your attorney can help you make sense of all the options, including no-fault insurance and comparative negligence.

Lady Justice; image by Tingey Injury Law Firm, via
Lady Justice; image by Tingey Injury Law Firm, via

In many cases, both the car’s driver and a pedestrian are responsible for the accident. For example, a speeding driver bears partial responsibility for an accident in any scenario above. Some states adopt a contributory negligence system, which prevents anyone from recovering compensation in an accident. However, victims could still sue people personally for damages. Contributory negligence is only used in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Alabama, and Washington, D.C.

Pedestrian Damages

According to a post at, pedestrians can recover many of the same damages drivers do. More than 137,000 pedestrians are injured each year, and the following safety tips can reduce your chances of sustaining a vehicle injury:

  • Increase night visibility by carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective clothing.
  • Cross streets only at designated crosswalks.
  • Walk on sidewalks or pathways instead of on the road.
  • Avoid using electronic devices and Bluetooth technology with earbuds on heavily trafficked streets.
  • Don’t walk when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs – take a cab or Uber.

Comparative Negligence

Ohio and most other states practice comparative negligence, which means your right to recover injury compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault you contributed to the accident. According to insurance experts, contributory negligence is viewed as a failure to exercise a duty of care as any reasonable person would. Therefore, to get the best outcome in your injury case, it is best to discuss matters with an attorney. Present them with all the evidence so they can build you a solid case, even if you had your share of responsibility for the accident. 

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