Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Knockdown Injuries

Car Pedestrian Accidents Overview

Does it ever turn out well when a pedestrian is hit by a car?

If you have been injured as a pedestrian, researching your legal options and looking for the right pedestrian accident attorney to ensure you are treated fairly - or you or someone in your family was knocked down by a car or suffered harm in a collision, and want to learn your recovery options, you are in the right place.

Were You Injured?


    If you are simply curious to learn an overview on what factors in pedestrian vehicle accidents can potentially impact compensation for the injured, continue reading.

    This definitive online pedestrian accident guide will explain in simple language how various accident types and laws can implact a claim from a plaintiffs perspective - listing accident scenario examples to know better what to expect and what separates a great law firm from the rest when seeking help with your claim.

    More than 6 in 10 people walk for transportation according to the Dept. of Transportation. This includes walking to and from work, walking for fun, relaxation, exercise, or for activities like taking the dog out for a run or getting out of the house for fresh air. This number continues to rise at a rate of 6% over the past 5 years. Unfortunately, congested roads packed with cars means sharing the sidewalks and crosswalks with drivers.

    The United States has seen a rise in car pedestrian accidents. In most cases people assume that in pedestrian involved crashes the driver of the vehicle is automatically considered at fault. Drivers have a duty of care for the people walking, jogging, hiking or running along or near the road - right?

    Unfortunately, as great accident lawyers know all too well, not everything is so black and white when determining legal fault.

    Keep reading to examine how fault works in pedestrian involved accidents in more detail below.

    Fatal Pedestrian Strikes
    "62% of all pedestrian car accidents were the fault of the driver..."

    The number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States has increased 25 percent from 2010 to 2015 according to the CDC - a statistic that does not include the thousands of injuries resulting from careless and negligen drivers.

    Making matters worse, pedestrians hit by cars can suffer catastrophic, life threating personal injuries.

    It's uncommon for extensive safeguards to exist close to the road to protect pedestrians, while drivers of cars have structural and safety protections inherent in the vehicle. It doesn't take extensive pondering to see how serious impacts can be fatal for pedestrian victims. The result of a moments distraction can be fatal.

    "In 2015 alone, 181,364 unintentional pedestrian nonfatal injuries were reported in the U.S.."

    Depending on the legal fault doctrine used in the State the accident happened, when a pedestrian is hit by a car - depending on the circumstances of the accident - the fault will be placed on the driver, the pedestrian or both parties can share in responsibility.

    When you take a quick moment to consider the multitude of situations which can result in a pedestrian knockdown accident, it isn't so simple as a motorist being solely responsible resulting from a careless neglect of a driver's duty of care.

    A 10 year study conducted in Minneapolis concluded that 62% of all pedestrian/vehicle incidents were the fault of the vehicle’s operator.

    To establish negligence in a pedestrian accident your attorney is ultimately looking to establish the legal responsibility of the defendant.

    To learn more about how negligence works read our negligent actions guide here.

    Local and State laws presiding over cases involving motorists and pedestrians vary making it imperative you seek professional legal representation when considering taking legal action.

    Can The Pedestrian Be at Fault in a Car Accident?


    View the video for a deeper look into the data behind the most common causal agents contributing to auto accidents nationwide.

    The most common cause of pedestrian crash injuries is driver negligence.

    In broad terms, The Law of Negligence is defined as careless or unlawful behavior and it informs who is a fault. An injured person in a lawsuit (the plaintiff) will be required to prove fault on behalf of the defendant.


    Driver's Duty of Care

    Motorists are potentially liable for having failed to maintain their legal duties when their vehicle strikes a pedestrian. Motor vehicle operators owe a duty of care and are expected to follow the rules of the road, make reasonable efforts to avoid accidents and maintain control of the vehicle at all times. In a pedestrian involved accident the courts look at whether the driver upheld their legal duty obligations as well as other contributing facts when determining negligence.

    Here are some common examples of driver negligence in a pedestrian-vehicle accident:

    • Failure to yield
    • Running a red light
    • Failure to signal properly or ignoring traffic signs
    • Traffic violations
    • Speeding or a failure to moderate speeds due to weather conditions or traffic conditions
    • Losing control of the vehicle
    • Distracted driving (texting, phone calls, changing music, eating)

    When a pedestrian is injured they can make a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance in an attempt to recover damages (seeking financial compensation & recovery).

    Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act (MVCRA):
    Washington D.C. passed legislation in 2016 modifying their negligence laws with the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act. This Act now “enables pedestrians and cyclists to recover up to 100 percent of their losses from medical bills and property damages”.  

    In most cases the injured pedestrian needs to prove the driver’s negligence as the cause crash that harmed the claimant or caused the injuries suffered. The at-fault party (insurance company or legal counsel for the defendant) will look to place at least some of the blame on the pedestrian. Any local auto accident lawyer will tell you motor vehicle operators are responsible for pedestrian safety - legal responsibility depending on the circumstances (and state law) can result in shared, reduced or complete liability.

    Throughout the U.S. it is assumed that vehicle operators should always use reasonable care and avoid the risk of harm to pedestrians.

    Proving legal negligence and what damages are recoverable after a pedestrian-vehicle injury is best explained by your personal injury attorney after reviewing the details of your unique case. These laws vary from State to State and can change.

    Contributory vs. Comparative Negligence:

    Minneapolis, MN: Contributory negligence is limited to the plaintiff's recovery.  The plaintiff's negligence reduces recovery proportionately, but if it is greater than 50%, recovery is barred.

    Florida: Comparative negligence is used in pedestrian injuries. Comparative negligence compares the relative fault among parties. This can limit recovery and settlement if you are partially responsible.

    When you have been knocked down by a vehicle and hurt seriously, wading through state statutes is the last thing on your mind - it will be your lawyer's job to know the rules specific to your state that apply and help navigate your injury lawsuit to a successful resolution on your behalf.

    pedestrian fault questions

    When Both Parties Share Fault

    Since drivers are commonly found fully or at least partially responsible for pedestrian crashes (simply from a breach of duty) most people figure the pedestrian holds no at fault responsibility. When a pedestrian files a lawsuit against a driver or makes a claim to the driver’s insurance company - make no mistake - these parties will defend themselves and fight to reduce their financial liability. The defendants can be expected to examine the circumstances of the incident and ferret out what responsibility the injured pedestrian may have under the law. To illustrate, in states which recognize pure comparative negligence, like Florida, recovery is limited by the amount of negligence you are deemed responsible for when suing. In this scenario: if you are deemed 20% negligent by the court, your damages will be decreased by 20%.

    Pedestrian's Duty of Care

    By assigning all or some negligence to the pedestrian the defendants may mitigate the damages owed to the plaintiff (fake pedestrian accidents aren't unheard of either). As explained above, an injured pedestrian who is found to be 20% at fault for an accident would only be entitled to 80% of their damages. But what pedestrian actions can be considered negligent and contributory to pedestrian-vehicle collisions?

    knocked down pedestrian

    Pedestrian negligence can include the following:

    • Jaywalking or crossing outside crosswalk
    • Disobeying crosswalk traffic signals
    • Pedestrian is intoxicated
    • Pedestrian is distracted by cell phone
    • Carelessly running into the street or vehicle in question
    • Entering a prohibited area to pedestrians

    A court finding fully for the defendant in pedestrian knockdown cases can result in the minimum benefits being awarded to the plaintiff.

    This is rare, however, since driver's are expected to always use reasonable care around pedestrians. A majority of cases when a pedestrian is found negligent will result in at least shared fault attribution because of the vehicle operator duties outlined above.

    Third Party Involved Liability

    Most victims of pedestrians crashes focus on the driver of the care that hit them. However, it is important to remember that third parties like city governments may also share in the responsibility. Cities focus on pedestrian safety, various scenarios can result in their failing to provide reasonable care for their residents safety which can be considered contributory cause for an accident.

    Unsafe road conditions, problematic intersections, poor planning, unsafe design, equipment malfunction, poorly signed streets, and other factors may lead to the city sharing culpability.

    Accident Statistics:

    • A recent 10 year study in Minneapolis revealed:.
    • 80% of the crashes happened on just 10% of streets in Minneapolis
    • People of color were over-represented in pedestrian fatalities
    • Streets with fewer lanes have fewer pedestrian crashes
    • Turning vehicle crashes accounted for 47% of crashes at intersections
    • 68% of pedestrian crashes occurred at intersections
    • Drivers were at fault in 62% of the crashes

    Improvements for pedestrians are needed but municipalities are not always able to provide for recommended safety upgrades - in other cases the recommendations are simply ignored..

    List of examples of when cities, states and counties may be liable are:

    • Painted Crosswalks are not complete or faded
    • Failure to provide proper traffic detours
    • Poor Lighting
    • Faulty traffic signals
    • Crossing signals timing too short
    • Poorly designed intersections
    • Failure to properly enforce traffic laws
    • A pattern of not in improving higher incident areas

    In Los Angeles, California a recent case shows how terrible the results can be when alleged City negligence is a contributing factor. In this case a man was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street in the crosswalk.

    Getting hit resulted in his being put into a coma for months and he suffered permanent brain damage. Attorneys for the plaintiff accused the city of failing to address dangerous conditions in the intersection, alleging the warning signs and markings were obscured and the intersection had a significant accident history according to court documents according to the LA Times.

    After a extended legal battle the family was awarded 15 million dollars by the Los Angeles City Council.

    pedestrian falling accident

    Pedestrian Accidents Not Involving a Vehicle

    Harm suffered by a pedestrian attributed to property conditions falls under the legal category of premises liability.

    The injured party typically claims the harm suffered was a result of unsafe conditions or caused by the actions of the property owner.

    Property owners have an obligation to take action to correct conditions which pose an unreasonable risk to people.

    The controlling property owner has an obligation to take reasonable action to warn pedestrians of hazards that they have knowledge of.

    It's because of the threat of trip slip fall lawyers that you likely have seen the wet / slippery floor hazard signs in your grocery, big box store, or local restaurant at some point.

    Generally, to win a lawsuit for the injured party in a premises liability claim the plaintiffs lawyers will need to establish that the onwer of the property either knew the hazardous condition existed and negligently failed to correct it.

    That the owner created the condition or the causal condition was in existence long enough that it should have been reasonably discovered and fixed.

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    shattered glass

    Hit While Riding A Bike?
    Bicycle Accident Legal Considerations

    Bicycle riders face the same danagers as pedestrians and getting hit is just as serious an event.

    How bicycle riders are treated in an incident varies per jurisdiction, depending on local law and how bike friendly the local courts are (unfortunately biases do exist).

    In general, a rider is considered a car if they are riding on the street and a pedestrian if they are riding on the public sidewalk or crosswalk.

    When applying liability most States consider a cyclist a pedestrian when they are hit by a car. This means that when a bicyclist is stuck they are usually entitled to damages if injured. Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion according to the CDC.

    In 2015 there were approximately 467,000 non-fatal cyclist injuries and over 1,000 deaths resulting from bicycle-vehicle collisions.

    Imagine you’re riding your bike on the sidewalk. Ahead you see a gap in the path’s payment where a car is sitting waiting to turnout of the plaza. You decide it’s not safe to cross directly in front of the car while on the sidewalk. You determine moving onto the road is a safer path. Unfortunately, the driver is looking the other way at oncoming traffic and does not see you, the motorist accelerates to turn and hits you knocking you to the concrete.

    The questions mount quickly:

    Who is at fault in a comparative negligence State?

    You, the cyclist, were heading in the right direction but were you operating your bike safely?

    The driver did not use proper caution while entering the roadway but does the driver have an expectation others sharing the road have responsibility to operate safely.

    Your attorney will be able to help guide you - either through the settlement process, going to trial if necessary or other possible resolutions.

    As a cyclist involved in a vehicle related accident you are considered a pedestrian in most cases and likely will be entitled to recover compensation.

    (See Also: Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Information)

    Damages Hit Pedestrians May Pursue for Injuries

    After suffering harm or financial loss, claimants can seek damages in an attempt to be made whole by the responsible parties. Compensation may take the form of an insurance claim payout, a negotiated settlement, or judgments or awards won in court after the resolution of a personal injury trial. The available damages sought in a lawsuit should be dependent being supported by the tort laws and the details of the event meeting the standard of proof required weighed against the risk / reward of litigation against you and your families needs.

    A list of damage reimbursements the law may support include:

    • Medical and hospital expenses
    • Rehabilitation costs
    • Ambulance costs
    • Prescriptions
    • Transportation to doctor appointments
    • Loss of income
    • Pain and suffering
    • Punitive damages

    As the incident report data reveals, getting hit by a car while walking is not uncommon. The damages awarded to injured pedestrians after an accident can be life-changing. Even if the injury seems minor - seek legal representation right away. It's not uncommon for post-car accident injuries to worsen days after the incident as swelling worsens and complications arise.


    Let’s examine a common pedestrian involved accident scenario:

    Scenario #1: Side Mirror Impact
    • Side Mirror Impact:
    • Just imagine you are walking to the mailbox, as you do every morning to collect your mail. The mailbox is on a two-way street in a residential neighborhood. The sun has just risen and drivers heading toward the sunrise have difficulty seeing. A driver comes too close and clips your shoulder with their mirror. Two witnesses see you get hit. Your shoulder explodes in immediate pain but the emergency room seems a bit much to you initially.

      The driver stops, apologizes... but what should you do?

    Scenario #2: Hit at Crosswalk
    • Hit While Waiting at the Crossswalk:
    • Just imagine Sandra, walking to work after having just moved to a new apartment closer to her job. She planned out her perfect route, able to navigate the four blocks in 15 minutes walk. While Sandra obeyed all traffic and crossing signals, sometimes you can’t plan for everything. One cold morning standing just a few feet from the curb, waiting at the crosswalk for the signal to change a car jumped the curb and hit her knocking her down to the pavement violently. She suffered a broken leg (multiple fractures), severe neck pain from whiplash and a concussion from when her head smacked against the concrete. After a few days in the hospital she returned home but was not able to return to work for over a month while she recovered. Her insurance company covered her medical bills and the driver’s insurance company offered a small settlement.

      Sandra decided to contact a personal injury attorney.

    Scenario #3: Train Pedestrian Accident
    • Unexpected Railroad Crossing Collision:
    • Just imagine you are walking along the sidewalk which leads to a railroad crossing intersection. A large van is stopped at the intersection, but you don't hear any hazard lights or warning sounds and begin to head over the tracks. You quickly realize the van was blocking your vision and a train is hurtling along the rails. After your initial shock, you react and are able to avoid a fatal collision, but it clips you - knocking you to the ground violently.


    injured motorist

    What To Do After Getting Hit By A Car?

    If you have been struck while walking, taking the following actions if you are able to immediately following the event will help protect your interested as an injured party.

    • Call the Police and/or Ambulance. Seek a medical diagnosis even if the injury seems minor. Minor injuries can get worse.
    • Driver Identification. Gather Information from the Vehicle Operator
      • Name and License number. (Take picture with your phone)
      • Cell phone (Call the number before they leave to ensure its right)
      • Driver’s insurance information
    • Witness Identification. Take down name and contact information of witnesses
    • Police Documentation. Get a copy of the police report
    • Medical Documentation. Copy all medical bills from the incident
    • Legal Representation. Contact a personal injury attorney

    Don't make any statements to anyone until you have spoken with your injury lawyer.

    Even the most innocent sounding statements may lead to unintended legal consequences and harm your entitled recover claim compensation.

    Seemingly friendly claims adjusters can use your words against you when the legal wrangling begins in earnest and large financial sums are at stake over your injuries.

    Been In a Pedestrian Accident: Need Legal Help?

    If you or someone you love has been knocked down by a car or was hurt after being hit, share what happend and your questions with an attorney. Great legal representation can help see your claim through the legal process, answer your questions, and give you the peace of mind knowing your lawsuit is 'handled' while you focus on recovery.

    After an injury you have a limited amount of time to take legal action, so it is important that you act now. Share the details of what happened with an attorney to claim a free legal evaluation of your claim. Get your a better understanding of the available legal options in clear language, so you can move forward with confidence in the best direction for your needs.


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