Were You Injured Because Of Someone Else's Negligence? Browse Our FAQs
In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.
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Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?
There are millions of people injured every year in pedestrian accidents. One of the most common places that these accidents occur are at 4 way stops. It seems there is still a lot of confusion around who has the right of way when it comes to pedestrians and vehicles on the road. While pedestrian accidents commonly occur at 4 way stops, they also happen in other areas where people are trying to cross a road…or sometimes even a highway!
It is important for both drivers and pedestrians to understand who has the right of way in any given situation. By having this knowledge and understanding the rules of the road, we can help reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities here in Washington state.
Generally, Pedestrians Have the Right of Way
In general, pedestrians have the right of way. Drivers owe pedestrians a duty of care when they are out on the roads. A driver must possess a valid driver’s license and follow all traffic laws. The sad truth is that drivers often fail at meeting the duty of care for pedestrians…and other drivers for that matter. Here are some common examples of failure to provide duty of care:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while distracted
- Failing to signal while turning
- Failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks
Injuries and fatalities can result when a driver fails the duty of safe driving that is owed to other drivers and pedestrians.
Pedestrians Do NOT Always Have the Right of Way
Even though pedestrians usually have the right of way, this is not always the case. A pedestrian cannot just run across the street in the middle of vehicle traffic just because they feel like it. Entering a roadway suddenly and unexpectedly so a vehicle has no time to react is not allowed in Washington. Doing this would not only put you in danger, but it also puts those operating vehicles in the flow of traffic at risk.
Pedestrians also owe a duty of care to other pedestrians and drivers out on the road. These are some of the common breaches of care seen by pedestrians:
- Suddenly and unexpectedly entering the roadway
- Walking in traffic areas where pedestrians are prohibited
- Entering a road or highway while intoxicated (drugs and/or alcohol)
- Crossing in the middle of the street
- Crossing the street outside of a crosswalk
- Disobeying a traffic signal (crossing the street when there is a “do not cross” signal)
Pedestrians can be held accountable for prohibited behavior just like drivers are. In some situations, a driver and pedestrian may both be at fault in an accident. If both the driver and pedestrian are at fault in an accident, it is important to figure out the percentage of fault for each party in order to determine liability and resolve any legal claims correctly.
Washington state Pedestrian Laws
Every state has their own pedestrian laws. Below are laws specific to the state of Washington for pedestrians:
- Traffic signals - Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and traffic control devices unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer (RCW 46.61.050).
- Sidewalks - Drivers and bicyclists must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks (RCW 46.61.261).
- Pedestrians on roadways - Pedestrians must use sidewalks when they are available. If sidewalks are not available, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic (RCW 46.61.250).
- Moving into traffic - No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb and move into traffic so that the driver cannot stop (RCW 46.61.235).
- Drivers exercise due care - Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary (RCW 46.61.245).
- Stop for pedestrians at intersections - Drivers shall stop at intersections to allow pedestrians and bicycles to cross the road within a marked or unmarked crosswalk (RCW 46.61.235). See Washington's Crosswalk Law for more information.
- Yield to vehicles outside intersections - Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway (RCW 46.61.240).
How Do You Prove Responsibility in a Pedestrian Vehicle related Accident?
It is crucial to have as much evidence when proving negligence by the vehicle in a pedestrian accident case. Calling the police to the scene of the accident is always recommended so that a police report can be filed, however, a police report will not always show or make a liability determination for an accident. Be sure to take the following steps after your accident:
- Make sure that you are safe and address any injuries you have sustained immediately.
- Document the scene (take photos with the camera on your phone if you can or have someone else take photos for you).
- Get the contact information from any witnesses at the scene of the accident if you can do it safely.
Negligence a Common Reason for Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents are the result of negligence in most cases. There may be a rare instance where a crazy driver is out there trying to intentionally hit people, but the odds of that happening are very low. If you as a pedestrian have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, then you may have a legal claim against the party who is responsible. Filing a claim will allow you to recover compensation for the following:
- Cost of medical treatment (doctor visits, hospital visits, surgeries, etc.)
- Income lost due to missing work
- Pain and suffering
- Other losses (Wrongful death)
How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents
Unfortunately, not everyone is going to follow the law when it comes to the rules of the road. No one wants to be involved, hurt, or at fault in a pedestrian accident. Here are some precautions both drivers and pedestrians can take to limit the chances of being injured or involved in a fatal accident:
- Everyone should slow down at a crosswalk. Drivers should be scanning the area for pedestrians even if they have a green light. Pedestrians nearly always have the right of way at crosswalk whether the crosswalk is marked or not. There is a chance that someone may be a slow walker and still crossing the street as well, so be on the lookout! Pedestrians should also be on the lookout before crossing at an intersection. Be sure to look both ways even if you have a signal that is telling you it is ok to cross. Also, be sure to look for drivers who may be attempting to run a yellow light.
- Make yourself easy to see. Wear bright clothes and reflective tape when you are out on walks. This is especially important if you are walking around at night. A study shows that in 2016, 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened while it was dark out. Drivers need to make sure that their headlights are turned on.
- Avoid intoxication. 48 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes in 2016 involved alcohol (the driver and/or pedestrian). Driving drunk impairs a driver’s ability to slam their breaks on more quickly, increases the likelihood of a driver leaving the roadway, and driving up on to a sidewalk. Pedestrians who are impaired are more likely to stumble while walking and lose their ability to pay close attention. This could cause a person to stumble into the road or have poor judgement when it comes to how close an oncoming vehicle is in relation to where they stand.
- Avoid distractions. Both drivers and pedestrians should avoid electronics (phones) while on the roads. Everyone needs to be alert and pay attention to their surroundings.
Drivers should always do the following to prevent hitting a pedestrian:
- Always be cautious where pedestrians cross. Regardless if they are at an intersection or marked crosswalk, you should slow to a stop.
- Always come to a complete stop at a crosswalk. Never slow roll through a crosswalk as it presents an unnecessary risk.
- Make direct eye contact. Let the pedestrian know that you see them by attempting to make eye contact with them as they cross the road.
- Allow plenty of time for pedestrians to cross. It may take more time for children, elderly, or disabled people to cross the street. Give them enough time to do so and do not enter the crosswalk with your vehicle until they have crossed safely to the other side.
- Never pass stopped vehicles or vehicles breaking for a pedestrian. Slow down and stop. The last thing you want to do is to hit a pedestrian that is in the road as you try to pass a stopped vehicle.
Even if you are being responsible and following the rules of the road, accidents will still happen. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Give us a call at 425-399-7000 today to get your free consultation.
Who Is Liable if a Bus Hit a Pedestrian?
Liability when a bus hits a pedestrian will depend on the cause of the bus accident and which party acted negligently. If for example, the pedestrian ran into the path of an oncoming bus that was not able to stop in time, the pedestrian might be at fault. If the bus driver, however, was speeding, texting, under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the accident, or negligent in some other manner, the driver can be liable. Further, the bus company that employs the driver could be liable.
If you were hit by a bus, speak with a lawyer at Max Meyers Law about who might be liable. Call us at 425-399-7000.
Bus Company Liability for Driver’s Actions
Bus companies are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, including bus drivers who strike pedestrians. In such cases, the injured pedestrian may file a liability claim against the bus company.
Further, bus companies may be directly liable for their own negligence if their actions contributed to an accident. For example, if a bus company failed to ensure its drivers possessed the proper training, and an inexperienced driver caused an accident, the bus company may be liable for its negligence.
If you are unsure of liability for a bus accident in which you were injured, please call us at 425-399-7000. We will review your accident case and explore which parties may be liable for your damages.
Does it Matter What Kind of Bus Was Involved in the Accident?
Yes, because the claims process can be different depending on whether a private company or a government agency owns the bus. Common types of buses include:
- Public transportation bus run by a government agency
- Private tour bus
- Private charter bus
- School bus
Filing a claim against the government is more complicated than filing a claim against a private entity. While governments may enjoy some degree of “sovereign immunity,” people hit by a government-run bus may still be able to file a claim for damages against the government agency. Learn more about your rights after an accident with a government vehicle.
What if the Pedestrian was Partly at Fault?
In some cases, the pedestrian and the driver are partially at fault for the accident. Even if you and the driver were negligent, you could still recover compensation for your injuries because Washington follows the rule of comparative fault.
Comparative fault reduces the amount of your recovery based on the percentage of your negligence. For example, if you were 10 percent at fault for the accident, you can recover 90 percent of your damages.
How Can a Lawyer Help You with Your Pedestrian Bus Accident Claim?
At Max Meyers Law, we will evaluate your claim and determine the best approach for pursuing compensation for your damages.
We will collect the evidence needed to build your case. This evidence can include the police accident report and testimony of other pedestrians, passengers on the bus, and the bus driver. We will gather your medical records. We will use your employment records to document your lost wages. If necessary, we will work with an accident reconstruction expert to prove to the court what caused the collision.
Since we will negotiate directly with the insurance company, you can focus on recovering from your injuries. Just be sure you do not give a recorded or written statement, as the insurance company may twist your words. Speak with a lawyer before giving any statement.
Further, never sign anything or accept money from the insurance company before talking with your lawyer about it. Sometimes insurance companies trick people into signing away their right to additional compensation by offering them a quick check early on before they know the full extent of their injuries.
We will make sure you understand every step of the process. Call the team at Max Meyers Law PLLC for help with your claim. Reach out to us at 425-399-7000 today to set up your free consultation.
What happens if a pedestrian is at-fault for a car accident?
If a pedestrian is at-fault for a car accident, liability will depend on the specific facts of the accident.
When might a pedestrian be liable for an accident?
Per RCW § 46.61.261, people driving cars and bicycles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but this does not mean pedestrians are allowed to just walk out into the path of oncoming traffic. It is illegal for pedestrians in Washington State to suddenly bolt out into the path of a vehicle when the vehicle is too close to be able to stop in time. Pedestrians must also obey all traffic control devices in Washington.
If they disobey any traffic laws, they could be liable for any accident and injuries that occur.
For example, Tom was walking on the sidewalk. He approached a crosswalk and walked into the intersection without looking both ways. He did not realize the pedestrian signal was a solid red hand and that the light was green for incoming traffic. A car proceeding through the intersection did not have time to stop and hit him. In this case, Tom will be liable for his own injuries and any injuries the driver or her passengers sustained.
Consider another example: John decided to cross the street outside of a crosswalk. He saw a car coming, but crossed anyway. The driver of the car did not have time to stop and hit John. John is liable for the accident because he was jaywalking and did not give the car enough time to stop.
These accidents can be complicated, especially when they occur in an intersection. If there is a question about liability in your accident, Max Meyers can investigate your accident to determine what party had the right of way when the accident occurred.
What if the pedestrian caused the accident but was not negligent?
It is possible to cause an accident without being negligent. Many accidents have multiple causes, not all of which necessarily involve someone being negligent.
If a pedestrian tripped over a hazard on the sidewalk and fell into traffic, both the pedestrian and the driver can hold the party that is responsible for sidewalk maintenance liable.
What if the pedestrian and the driver were both at fault?
Washington follows the rule of pure comparative fault, which means that a person’s fault reduces his damages. This is true regardless of how much the person was at fault.
For example, Jack was walking down the sidewalk talking on the phone. Without waiting for the walk signal, he stepped into the intersection. At the same time, Ron turned right on red and hit Jack.
The investigation found both Jack and Ron to be 50 percent at fault. Jack had serious injuries, with damages of $50,000. Ron was uninjured. Jack’s fault will reduce his $50,000 in damages to $25,000 to account for his responsibility for the accidents.
How will the pedestrian cover the costs of any injuries?
A pedestrian can use his personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay any of his own medical bills and replace any lost wages from the accident. PIP covers policyholders regardless of fault.
If the driver suffered injuries in the accident, he might need to sue the pedestrian to recover compensation for his medical bills and other accident-related costs.
Because recovering compensation can be complicated in these cases, you need a Kirkland pedestrian accident attorney to help you get the compensation you need.
A pedestrian accident attorney will investigate the accident to determine exactly how it happened. Evidence your attorney might gather includes:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance video
- Red light camera footage
- Accident reconstruction testimony
Call Max Meyers for help recovering compensation today.
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in Washington State — either as a pedestrian or a driver — Max Meyers Law can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation.
Who is at fault for a texting while walking accident?
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.
Who has the right of way in a crosswalk: a driver turning right or a pedestrian in the crosswalk?
It depends. There is no one simple law that answers this question. It depends on multiple factors and multiple rules. The bottom line is that neither party has an absolute right of way at all times.
I crossed in a crosswalk. Did I have the right of way?
Not necessarily. Pedestrians must follow certain rules of the road, just as the vehicles do [RCW § 46.61.235].
This means that pedestrians do not have the right to step out into traffic and expect vehicles to come to a screeching halt. Consider this: a driver is halfway through making a right turn on red when you see that you have a walk signal. Do you have the right of way? Likely no, because you must still wait for the driver to finish his turn before entering the roadway. If you step in front of his car simply because you have the walk sign, you are violating R.C.W. § 46.61.235.
You also do not have the right of way if you crossed against a crossing signal.
You do have the right of way if you had the walk signal and began crossing before a driver started his turn.
I was already walking across the street when the car began turning. Did I have the right of way?
Whether you have the right of way in this situation depends on whether you had the walk signal and whether the driver was turning on red or green.
In either case, a driver must stop when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk that is in the lane in which the driver is driving, and any other lane of traffic on that half of the roadway [RCW § 46.61.235]. The driver must remain stopped until you have left the roadway.
This is true even if you were crossing against a walk signal. However, if you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you will likely share liability as you were disobeying traffic signals.
I crossed outside of a crosswalk. Did I have right of way?
Not likely. When a pedestrian is crossing a road at any place other than in a crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield right of way to all vehicles that are on the roadway, according to RCW § 46.61.240.
If a pedestrian jumps out into traffic in the middle of a block, the driver is not likely to be liable if he could not stop in time to avoid hitting the jaywalking pedestrian. However, under RCW § 46.61.245, drivers must “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway.”
The statute also gives right of way to drivers turning right when:
- A pedestrian crosses an intersection diagonally unless specifically authorized
- A pedestrian crosses in violation of a sign or signal prohibiting crossing at a particular location
I crossed in an unmarked crosswalk. Did I have the right of way?
In many cases, there are four crosswalks at an intersection. This is true regardless of whether the crosswalk has painted lines or nothing at all.
Determining whether you had the right of way in an unmarked crosswalk is more complicated because there may not be walk signals. Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk; to determine whether you had the right of way, you need to consider whether he turned on red or green and whether he had enough time to stop after you entered the roadway.
Do pedestrians or drivers of emergency vehicles have the right of way?
Pedestrians must yield right of way to emergency vehicles per RCW § 46.61.264.
A pedestrian can be liable for failure to yield right of way to a right turning emergency vehicle. However, if the pedestrian was already in the crosswalk when the emergency vehicle began its approach, the emergency vehicle must wait for the pedestrian to finish crossing.
Where can I get help after a pedestrian accident?
As you can see, right of way laws concerning right turns and pedestrians in crosswalks are complex. If you have been injured in an accident involving a pedestrian in a crosswalk, seek the advice of an auto accident attorney. These accidents often involve serious, even catastrophic injuries. At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we will evaluate your claim and explain your legal rights.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation.
What is the definition of pedestrian?
Many people know that pedestrians must follow certain rules when walking along roadways, but what is the definition of pedestrian?
Section 47.04.010 (23) Revised Code of Washington defines a pedestrian as, “Any person afoot or who is using a wheelchair, power wheelchair … or a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.”
It is important to note that cyclist are not treated as pedestrians and are subject to a different set of regulations while on the roadways. However, individuals on skateboards and roller skates are treated as pedestrians.
Why the Definition of a Pedestrian Is So Important
Why is it important to distinguish between pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicle drivers? Each class of individual using the roadways and walkways (driver, pedestrian, bicyclist) must follow certain rules applicable to them. These laws dictate who can cross the street when, who was right-of-way, etc., so everybody stays safe.
And in the event of an accident, knowing who handled following which rules can help establish which party was negligent and liable for the pedestrian crash.
The Washington Administrative Code Section 504-14-940 details rules applicable to pedestrians while on the roadways. Among these, pedestrians must follow traffic control signals, vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and more. Pedestrians should be familiar with jaywalking rules, right-of-way, and other laws applicable to them as well as vehicles.
If a pedestrian violated a rule of the road – such as suddenly leaving the curb – then the pedestrian may be liable for an accident that this causes. But if a pedestrian was in a crosswalk when a vehicle overtook another car that was stopped for the pedestrian, and in doing so struck the pedestrian, then that driver may be liable.
Know the Pedestrian Laws and Call an Attorney if You're in an Accident
We are all pedestrians at some point throughout the day. Know the laws. Whether you are walking down the street, in a wheelchair, on a skateboard or roller skates, you are subject to traffic controls signals if they are in place. And if you cross the street you must do so in the designated crosswalk. If you are crossing the street in a crosswalk that does not contain a traffic signal, you have the right-of-way, as long as you enter the street/intersection with enough time for an approaching vehicle to see you and safely stop.
If another party caused an accident that injured you in Seattle, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 to set up a consultation about your case.