Can a Pedestrian be Liable For a Car Accident?

When a pedestrian is involved in a car accident, more often than not people will assume the driver was at fault. Drivers are at fault in most of these cases, but pedestrians can also be liable if they weren’t following the law or being negligent.

With car accidents that involve someone walking down the road, obviously most of the injuries will be to the person walking because they do not have a car’s safety features. If a driver is injured in some way or receives property damage, then they can sue the pedestrian if they can prove fault. A driver can be at fault for multiple reasons including running a red light, failing to stop/yield at a crosswalk and turning right on a red light without giving pedestrians the right-of-way. In some cases, a pedestrian does have the right-of-way, but not always.

Law of Negligence: Who is Liable?

When establishing fault after an accident many courts use the law of negligence to determine liability. In Louisiana, our Civil Code article 2315 is the fountainhead of our negligence laws.

The court will evaluate if the plaintiff and defendant were following the “rules of the road” by having them explain what happened and what they did. Here is an example of how negligence might be analyzed:

If person-A fails to act as a reasonably prudent person under similar of like circumstances and ends up causing harm to person-B, the law considers person-A negligent, regardless of who is walking or driving.

Types of Negligence:

  • Shared Fault: This is if the person walking happens to be jaywalking and is hit by a car that is speeding.
  • Contributory Negligence: If the plaintiff is found to be at fault for any of the injuries in the case then they can be barred from recovering anything from the defendant, whether the defendant was at fault or not. Only used in a handful of states, and not used in Louisiana for nearly 20 years.
  • Comparative Negligence: If the plaintiff is found partially at fault then the liability of the defendant may be reduced but not necessarily eliminated.
  • Pure Negligence: The court will establish what percentage of fault each party is responsible. For example, if the driver is only 70% at fault for the accident then they will only pay 70% of the pedestrians claim.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence: The court will split the liability according to the percentage of fault. If the plaintiff is at fault more than the courts predetermined limit (usually 50%), then they won’t receive anything from the defendant.

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