If you were in an accident involving a pedestrian, you might be surprised to learn that fault will "automatically" fall onto your shoulders. However, there are many cases where the pedestrian - not the driver - was at-fault for an accident.
When Is a Pedestrian At-Fault for a Car Accident?
Though pedestrians usually do have the right of way in intersections, there are certain situations where pedestrians are NOT free to walk and are not protected under Texas law.
(For a detailed look at cases where pedestrians do and don't have the right of way, read my article here).
Typically, a pedestrian is at-fault for a car accident when their actions "forced" the driver to wreck. In other words, the pedestrian was not following the law and their actions didn't give the driver enough time to react to avoid the pedestrian. For instance, if someone walking on the sidewalk suddenly turns and walks into the road, they're likely at-fault since they were jaywalking and did not give any signal that they intended to cross.
When a Pedestrian's Loose Dog Causes a Car Wreck
A pedestrian vs. driver wreck I sometimes see are the kind caused by loose dogs. If someone is walking their dog and that dog breaks free and runs into the road, it could lead to a wreck. In Texas, the wreck is the dog owner's fault.
If you are driving down your street and a dog bolts in front of your car, your instinct is to swerve away. If swerving damaged your car or someone else's property, you have a right to make a claim against the dog owner.
(Learn more about loose dogs that cause wrecks and your right to compensation here).
What If the Pedestrian Won't Admit Fault?
Sometimes, it's clear who caused the wreck, especially if the at-fault party admits they were wrong and accepts responsibility. However, it's not always so cut and dry. Often, driver-pedestrian wrecks can turn into a case of "he said she said" and fault is in dispute.
If you think the pedestrian caused your car accident but they're lying about what happened or won't admit the truth, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself.
Most importantly, you need to gather evidence. Take photos of the wreck, damage to your car, skid marks on the road, sidewalks and street lights in the area where the wreck happened, and so on. Record anything that might help you show that the pedestrian was breaking a Texas law by walking or standing where they should not have been.
Talk to witnesses, if possible. Sometimes witnesses will reach out to you at the scene of the accident, but other times you will need to seek them out yourself. Better than witnesses, look to see if there were any intersection cameras or nearby security cameras that might have caught the accident.
How Do You Know If You Need an Attorney?
If you were seriously hurt in the accident and the pedestrian won't admit fault, I'd advise you to consult a personal injury attorney. An attorney will ensure that you don't hurt your case by giving a recorded statement, releasing your medical records, waiting to see a doctor and so on. They'll look at the facts from your accident and gather evidence to prove that you weren't at-fault, and then they'll work to win you the money you deserve for your injuries and damages.
Still not sure if a lawyer is right for you? Answer these questions to help you figure it out.
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