Most of us have been taught that drivers must always yield to pedestrians. We instinctively know that the driver should do everything it takes to avoid a horrific accident, whether the pedestrian is jaywalking or steps off the sidewalk in the middle of a turn.
However, can the pedestrian ever be held liable if an accident occurs? Do pedestrians, in other words, always have the right of way? To get answers to any questions, get professional legal help today.
Pedestrians generally have the right of way.
Pedestrians do, in general, have the right of way. In truth, drivers bear many obligations to pedestrians as well as other drivers. Drivers must have valid driver’s licenses and follow traffic laws. Sadly, drivers often fail to meet their duty of care to pedestrians as well as other drivers. Some typical examples include:
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Driving while distracted
- Failing to signal while turning
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks
Unfortunately, given the speed and size of vehicles, fatalities, and injuries can occur when a motorist fails to uphold the responsibility of safe driving owed to others, such as pedestrians. Every year, tens of thousands are injured or killed.
Pedestrians do not always have the right of way.
While pedestrians normally have the right of way, this is not always true. Everybody who has ever used a crosswalk knows that you must wait to cross the street, regardless of whether the right of way is enforced by flashing traffic signs or the age-old laws of a typical 4-way stop.
You can not just dash across the street anytime you want; doing so jeopardizes not only your safety but also the safety of anyone driving in traffic. Just as drivers have a responsibility to pedestrians as well as other drivers, pedestrians have a responsibility to drivers and other pedestrians.
The following are some examples of common breaches of this duty of care:
- Crossing in the middle of the street
- Disobeying a traffic signal
- Crossing the street outside of a crosswalk
- Walking in areas where pedestrians are prohibited
- Entering a road or highway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Pedestrians can be held liable for participating in prohibited behavior – in the same way that drivers can be held accountable for breaches of the responsibility of safe driving. In some cases, an accident may be caused by both a driver and a pedestrian. When resolving legal claims in such cases, assigning blame based on liability is vital.