Pedestrians have the right of way. That’s the general rule in pedestrian-car accidents. However, that’s only sometimes the case. If you get involved in this kind of collision, you need the help of auto accident attorneys in Atlanta.
Fundamentally, drivers owe a duty of care to other road users, primarily pedestrians. But this has ot prevented auto-pedestrian accidents from happening. When there’s a crash, the question becomes who is liable.
Generally, drivers are presumed liable for an auto-pedestrian accident. However, you may not always be legally responsible when you hit a pedestrian on the road. This article discusses when liability shifts from the motorist to the pedestrian and the critical things to note as a driver when pedestrian-car accidents occur.
When Is a Driver Legally Responsible for Hitting a Pedestrian? Auto Accident Attorneys in Atlanta Explain
When two vehicles collide, the drivers and passengers receive a certain level of protection from injury. But in a motor vehicle-pedestrian accident, the person on foot is more likely to suffer fatal injuries. So, among road users, pedestrians are the most vulnerable.
Generally, the law requires motorists to watch out for pedestrians while driving. Whether at intersections, designated crossing points, or near sidewalks, it’s vital to consider the safety of people walking on foot, cycling, or jogging.
Still, a driver’s negligent actions can cause a collision. For example, a driver is liable for hitting a pedestrian in the following situations:
- Distracted Driving: If you’re using your cell phone while driving, you become less conscious of what’s happening on the road. There will be fewer chances to avoid other road users, especially pedestrians at crosswalks.
- Failure to Obey Traffic Rules: Various traffic laws and devices enhance pedestrian safety. Refusing to follow stop lights or crossing signs, failing to signal a turn or lane change, or refusing to yield to pedestrians at designated crossing points often lead to pedestrian accidents.
- Fatigued or Drunk Driving: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can spell disaster. Impaired drivers typically react slowly to road conditions, have poor distance and speed judgment abilities, and cannot yield effectively to pedestrians. In other cases, a driver may also be impaired from driving too long or over far distances without rest.
- Overspeeding: Going over the speed limit tends to put others in danger. Even if a pedestrian is at fault for entering the street carelessly, it becomes hard for a speeding driver to yield safely and avoid a collision.
Pedestrian Laws and Right-of-Way in Georgia
Georgia has pedestrian laws guiding the rights of people crossing roads or using the sidewalks. When road mishaps happen, they can also help determine who’s at fault.
Most times, motorists are liable in accident cases involving pedestrians. As the driver operating a vehicle, you are responsible for driving carefully while remaining aware of your surroundings. So, in addition to watching out for other vehicles on the road, you must be on high alert for people crossing or walking along a street.
According to Georgia law:
“…every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles unless he has already safely entered the road already.”
This rule implies that the oncoming car has to yield if a person on foot is already on the road, halfway, or even just crossing. Additionally, the driver must provide the pedestrian room to move across the road and give them the right of way at crosswalks.
The Official Georgia Code further indicates the legal rights of pedestrians. It states that:
“…every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, shall give warning by sounding his horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.”
So, motorists must still exercise due care irrespective of the state of mind of the pedestrian. If a collision still occurs, auto accident attorneys in Atlanta can prove that the driver did everything possible to avoid it.
Notably, jaywalking (road crossing on unmarked areas) is not a traffic offense in Georgia. However, pedestrians must yield to oncoming cars when crossing roadways.
Can a Pedestrian Also Be Liable in an Auto Collision?
A 2019 report shows that Georgia is especially prone to pedestrian accidents. Accordingly, state laws establish a right-of-way status for pedestrians. So again, if a car hits a person walking on foot, the driver is usually liable for damages.
Yet, like motorists, pedestrians must follow traffic rules and regulations. For this reason, a pedestrian can be fully or partially at fault in a vehicle-person collision.
Take, for instance, someone who runs into the road as you’re driving, and you hit them. Unfortunately, the pedestrian has left a place of safety to enter the path of your moving vehicle. This action makes it impossible to yield effectively on the road, thus rendering the runner at fault.
Other possible situations in a pedestrian-car accident where the non-driver can be liable include:
- Someone jumping out of a moving vehicle onto the road
- A drunk walker stumbling into the middle of a busy street
- A person sitting or lying down on the road
- A pedestrian that uses walking areas in violation of traffic signs or regulations
- Someone leaving the sidewalks and crosswalks to wander on the street illegally
Proving Liability and Establishing Negligence in Georgia
As a driver, you owe a high duty of care to pedestrians. But, regardless of your careful actions, a collision may occur. Proving who’s at fault is a matter of establishing negligence.
There are a whole lot of factors that determine who’s guilty in an accident. Essentially, though, lawyers first establish who had the right of way at the time of the collision. After that, evidence such as police reports, surveillance footage, and eyewitness accounts will provide helpful information.
However, time is of the essence when your case depends on collecting the proper evidence. So, it’s essential to contact a lawyer immediately after the incident.
Have You Been Involved in a Pedestrian-Car Accident? Contact Auto Accident Attorneys in Atlanta Today
Pedestrian accidents can have devastating legal consequences for drivers. But, even as a motorist, you’re not always liable when you hit someone on the road. Sometimes, the non-driver’s negligence may be the cause.
You don’t have to pay for someone else’s wrongful actions. Instead, an experienced car accident lawyer at The Weinstein Firm can use appropriate evidence to fight for your rights and get compensation if you suffered injuries. Contact our personal injury lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia, for a free case review.