Under the law, a pedestrian is anyone traveling along a sidewalk or roadway without a vehicle. In most cases this means people on foot such as a jogger, a student walking to school or anyone out for a walk. It also includes people on wheelchairs and small children on toys like a scooter or tricycle. Basically, anyone in the road without a motorized vehicle is a pedestrian.
Pedestrian accidents are extremely dangerous. They tend to be more serious than other types of accidents because a car can do so much damage to an unprotected person, even if the car is moving slowly. Virtually all pedestrian accidents result in injuries and many can even result in death. These accidents can be particular traffic because many involve children.
The law treats pedestrian accidents the same way it treats car-on-car collisions. The victims in the accident have a right to recover the full cost of their medical bills and any other damages. The insurance companies will work to determine who was at fault for the accident, and the person at fault (or their insurance) will pay.
Who is at fault in a pedestrian accident?
It depends. Although pedestrians are supposed to have the right of way at all times, that doesn’t mean they are never at fault for an accident. Pedestrians who cross the road illegally or run out suddenly without warning may share some or all of the fault for the accident—even if they are the ones who got most seriously hurt. Many pedestrian accidents also involve cell phone distractions, either on the part of the driver, the pedestrian, or both.
Sidewalks are not necessarily a factor in assigning fault in a pedestrian accident. Every town in Georgia has roads where there are no sidewalks, but in most cases it’s still legal for a pedestrian to walk along the side of the road—or even out in the road in some cases. The specifics of who is at fault depend on what happened, whether there were sidewalks and marked crosswalks available, and how careful each party was being.
What if the pedestrian is at fault for the accident?
If the pedestrian is found to be at fault they could be liable for the car driver’s costs, such as car damage. But this is rare. In most pedestrian cases the car driver is found to have at least partial responsibility for the accident, because drivers have a duty to be watchful and yield to pedestrians.
Bicycle accidents are often treated similarly to pedestrian accidents but, unlike pedestrians, bicyclists are supposed to follow many of the same rules that cars follow.
If you or a loved one were involved in any kind of pedestrian accident, either as the pedestrian or the driver, you should speak to a good personal injury lawyer right away and discuss your legal options.
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