Can a Pedestrian Be Held Liable in an Accident?

Pedestrians are extremely vulnerable to injuries in traffic accidents. When an unprotected pedestrian and an average 4,000-pound vehicle collide, the results are often devastating or catastrophic to the pedestrian. But because pedestrians are so susceptible to injuries, does that mean they are never at fault or liable in an accident in Texas?

According to traffic laws in Texas, a pedestrian could bear liability in an accident if they fail to follow road rules or behave in a careless or reckless manner while sharing the roadway with motor vehicles.

When Is a Pedestrian Liable for Damages in a Texas Traffic Accident?

Just as drivers have a general duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent causing injury to others on the roadway, pedestrians also have a duty to follow traffic laws and behave the way another, reasonable individual would under the same circumstances. Some examples of pedestrian liability in a car vs. pedestrian accident include the following:

  • Walking in the road when there is a sidewalk available
  • Walking on the wrong side of the road—with traffic rather than against traffic
  • Darting into the street in front of traffic without allowing time for an oncoming vehicle to stop
  • Crossing outside of a crosswalk or intersection
  • Walking on a bridge without a pedestrian walkway
  • Crossing a street where a pedestrian bridge or tunnel is available nearby
  • Failing to use a crossing signal or walking against the signal
  • Crossing a street diagonally
  • Jaywalking out from between parked cars
  • Jogging in high-traffic areas
  • Walking at night without reflective clothing

Any of the above careless or reckless actions are actionable negligence on the part of the pedestrian.

What Damages Can a Pedestrian Bear Liability For?

Although pedestrians take the brunt of the damages in most pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accidents, at-fault pedestrians may be responsible for more than their own medical expenses if they cause an accident. For instance, if a pedestrian darts into the street in mid-block and an oncoming driver cannot stop in time to avoid them, the driver could have an accident while swerving to avoid hitting the vulnerable pedestrian. Swerving in traffic could result in a collision with an oncoming vehicle or with an obstacle. In this case, the pedestrian is liable for the driver’s damages, which could include any or all of the following:

  • Property damage to the vehicle
  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future income loss
  • Diminished future earning capacity due to disabling injury
  • Pain and suffering compensation
  • Compensation for emotional trauma or loss of enjoyment of life

If a pedestrian causes an accident and the driver’s Austin accident attorney and insurance company confirm the pedestrian’s liability, they are responsible for the damages through their bodily injury liability insurance.

What If a Pedestrian Is Only Partly at Fault for an Accident?

Texas is a comparison negligence insurance state that allows an injury victim to recover a portion of their damages after an accident even if they contributed to the accident as long as they are less than 50% at fault. The insurer subtracts their percentage of fault from their compensation. For example, if a motorist hits a pedestrian in an unmarked intersection crosswalk, but the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing, the investigation could show that both parties shared fault.

In the above example, if the pedestrian was 30% at fault for wearing dark clothing, but the driver was 70% at fault for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the driver cannot recover compensation for any damages, but the pedestrian could recover their damages minus 30%. If the pedestrian’s damages amount to $100,000, they could recover $70,000.

Whether you are a driver or pedestrian in an accident, it’s always wise to seek help from an Austin injury lawyer to protect your rights.