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Can Pedestrians Be at Fault for Causing a Car Accident?

When it comes to car accidents involving pedestrians, many people will assume that the driver is to blame due to the old—but inaccurate—saying “the pedestrian always has the right of way.” The truth is, there are some circumstances in which the pedestrian is at fault, whether partially or entirely.

Similar to motorists on the road, pedestrians have a duty of care for their own safety when crossing the street or encountering traffic. Additionally, drivers are generally entitled to believe that the pedestrians they come across on the street will follow the traffic laws. If a pedestrian fails to exercise such care and contributed to the cause of their injuries, he/she can be considered negligent.

The following are common examples of pedestrian negligence:

  1. Jaywalking
  2. Crossing the middle of the street without using a crosswalk
  3. Running or jumping in front of a vehicle
  4. Disrupting the flow of traffic
  5. Entering a street while under the influence

In most cases, however, motorists are partially at fault for accidents involving pedestrian negligence. So what happens when both the driver and pedestrian share the blame?

Idaho adheres to the comparative negligence doctrine when monetary damages are being assessed in car accidents and other personal injury claims. This means a plaintiff’s recovery is reduced in proportion to their degree of fault for causing the accident and their own injuries. But if the plaintiff is 50 percent at fault or greater, then they cannot recover any damages from the accident.

For example, let’s say a pedestrian who was crossing the street without using a crosswalk is struck by a vehicle going over the posted speed limit. The jury found that the pedestrian was 40 percent at fault in the accident, while the driver was 60 percent. The pedestrian’s damages of $150,000 are reduced by 40 percent because of their own negligence, resulting in a recovery of $90,000.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver in Idaho, contact our Pocatello personal injury attorney at May, Rammell & Wells to let us help you recover the compensation you deserve today.


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