Distracted walking is a bigger problem than most people think. Many would not think twice about walking while texting, reading, listening to music, or balancing a package; however, these behaviors can lead to devastating walking while texting accidents. While most people think the driver is at fault in a pedestrian accident, liability can be more complicated if the pedestrian was distracted.
Who is liable if a car hits a distracted pedestrian?
Liability will be different in every distracted pedestrian accident. The actions of each party will result in one of three liability situations.
A distracted pedestrian and a focused driver.
A focused driver who is driving within the limits of the law might not be liable for the accident if the pedestrian did not give the driver enough time to stop.
The driver must be able to prove s/he was not driving impaired, distracted, or dangerously.
A distracted pedestrian and a distracted driver.
When distractions affect the pedestrian and driver, both parties might share the liability. Sharing liability does not mean you cannot recover compensation. To recover the most damages in this situation, you must prove the driver was more distracted than you were.
A distracted pedestrian and a reckless, aggressive, or drunk driver.
Even though the pedestrian in this example was distracted, the insurance company could find the driver more at fault because s/he willingly engaged in dangerous behavior.
The pedestrian will need to prove the driver was aware of the danger s/he posed. To hold the driver completely liable, the pedestrian would have to prove the accident would have happened even if s/he were not distracted.
For example, if the driver ran a red light and hit a distracted pedestrian while crossing at an intersection (when the pedestrian had the right-of-way), the insurer or court might find the driver totally liable.
Why are distracted pedestrians a problem?
When we think about distractions on the road, most people tend to go directly to drivers. While driver distraction is a significant problem on our roads, distracted pedestrians are also a cause for concern.
When a pedestrian is distracted, s/he is unaware of their surroundings, which can lead to dangerous actions and decisions. For example, a pedestrian with loud music playing through his/her headphones might not be able to hear approaching traffic or sirens and step into the road without noticing a nearby vehicle.
Even though pedestrians can maneuver easier than vehicles, if they step too closely into the path of a vehicle, the vehicle might not have time to stop. The faster a vehicle goes, the longer it takes the vehicle to stop. Additionally, a fast-moving vehicle will hit a pedestrian with more force and cause more serious damages.
How can I protect my right to recovery if I was injured while walking while distracted?
You are entitled to compensation for your injuries as long as you are not totally at-fault for the accident. Washington State's pure comparative negligence laws allow each driver to be majorly at fault and still recover compensation.
Therefore, even if your distraction was the main cause of the accident, as long as the insurance company finds you 99 percent at fault or less, you will still be able to collect the remaining percentage as a settlement.
For example, if the insurance company finds you to be 75 percent at fault and your insurance settlement is for $100,000 you would still be able to collect the remainder — 25 percent or $25,000 — as your compensation.
While $25,000 seems like a lot of money, pedestrian accident injuries can quickly top that. For this reason, you will want the insurer to find you played as little role in causing the accident as possible.
The insurance adjuster will assess your degree of fault based on the evidence you provide to support your claim for damages. In a pedestrian accident, your evidence might include:
- Police reports
- Photographs or video of the accident
- Eyewitness or expert witness statements
- Medical records
When you work with a Washington pedestrian accident lawyer, you have the advantage of working with a professional who knows the ins and outs of the injury claims process. Max Meyers Law provides free, no-obligation consultations to injured pedestrians seeking information about their rights to recovery.
Call us at 425-399-7000 to learn about how we can help your claim.