Are Drivers Automatically Liable for an Accident Involving Pedestrians?


As we all already know, car accidents are more common than we’d like them to be, and are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This should be enough to prove that these accidents are dangerous and thus, entail heavy legal liabilities.

While it’s true that pedestrians generally enjoy the right of way, this does not necessarily mean that drivers are automatically at fault when a vehicular accident involves a car and pedestrians. From a legal standpoint, the pedestrian can actually be held at fault either in part or even in whole. This is why it’s important to know how the law works in such a scenario.

How Is Fault Determined?

The assignment of fault in a car and pedestrian accident is as simple as appreciating witness testimony as well as the circumstances surrounding the accident. The decision is made by jurors or an insurance adjuster based on the facts of the case, as well as the applicable laws. It’s a simple affair with simple outcomes.

If a driver is clearly at fault, the pedestrian is entitled to recover compensation for the harm caused. If the pedestrian is at fault, not only will they be unable to recover any compensation, but the driver may even sue the pedestrian for damages caused to the car or for injuries that the driver may have sustained. Even when the legal approach to this type of accident is simple, you will always be better off hiring professional help. Lawyers like this Harrisonburg pedestrian accident attorney can help you secure full and fair compensation.

Shared Fault

It should be noted that there are some instances when a pedestrian bears some fault for causing the accident but the driver may still be held at fault. This is applicable during situations where both parties were violating a law, such when a jaywalking pedestrian is struck by someone driving over the speed limit. It’s during this situation when courts employ two basic legal concepts known as comparative negligence and contributory negligence.


Comparative negligence and contributory negligence are considered when both parties are at fault. These two concepts differ in that with comparative negligence, an injured person may still secure compensation from the at-fault party, but the damages that he may be awarded by a percentage equal to their fault. On the other hand, contributory negligence is an all-or-nothing measure if a pedestrian is found to have contributed to the accident, the pedestrian will not be able to collect any damages in court from the at-fault party.

There is a special type of comparative negligence wherein an injured person may still collect damages from the other party as long as the injured person bears half or less than half of the blame.

Few people ever expect an accident to happen. Even fewer are able to foresee an accident. If there’s one thing that we can all do, it’s to educate ourselves so that when an accident does happen, we are able to react appropriately. As always, do you best to prevent accidents from occurring by following the laws of the road, and exercising good judgement at all times.

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