A lot of people assume the pedestrian is always innocent in car accident cases. However, pedestrians can contribute to or cause a car accident to occur. One of the biggest reasons pedestrian accidents occur is because a pedestrian is jay walking. If there are marked crosswalks, you are not supposed to walk in the middle of the street.
However, although some pedestrians are indeed at fault for an accident, that doesn’t give permission to the driver of a motor vehicle to plow into them with a car. One time, an insurance adjuster told me, “Your client was walking when the light was flashing ‘Don’t Walk’ and therefore caused the accident.” I told him that might be true, but that did not give his client permission to hit my client with a car. Maybe my client also has no taste in clothing and doesn’t go to church on Sunday…that doesn’t mean drivers can simply hit him in the middle of the street!
In many cases involving pedestrians who are at fault, comparative negligence comes into play. That means the driver of the car is to share in the blame. How much blame is part of the lawyer’s overall analysis, but sometimes it is not crystal clear. The California Vehicle Code states that even if a pedestrian is to blame, it does not absolve a driver from due care. Also, the California Jury Instructions place a greater burden on the driver of a car than on a pedestrian. After all, the driver of a car is the more dangerous of the two.
Of course, some folks think the pedestrian is always right. Well, sometimes the pedestrian is fault free. However, even if the pedestrian is at fault, it’s not such a clear cut case, and it may warrant further examination.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,