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What Are the Situations Where Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

There are situations where pedestrians have the "right-of-way" over motorists. Here's how it works:

While the old adage that "a pedestrian always has the right-of-way" is strictly a myth, with not legal basis, there are still numerous situations where pedestrians have the right-of-way. Establishing the right-of-way is crucial for injured pedestrians, because Texas, like many states has a system of modified comparative fault. In simplest terms, modified comparative fault weighs how much each party contributed to an accident and asks a jury to put a percentage on the fault of each party.

If you're an injured pedestrian, having the right-of-way could be the difference between winning your case and recovering damages, or losing your case and having to foot the bill for your injuries, even when the accident wasn't really your fault. Since insurance companies will do whatever they can to show that an injured pedestrian did not have the right-of-way at the time of the accident in order to minimize any potential payout on the damage claim, it is imperative an injured pedestrian is represented by an experienced pedestrian accident attorney, like those at Grossman Law Offices, who can hold defend their rights and hold the motorist and their insurance company accountable.

Questions answered on this page:

  • When do pedestrians have the right-of-way?
  • Why is determining the right-of-way a key component of any pedestrian accident case?
  • What are some examples of pedestrian accident cases Grossman Law Offices has won?

When cars must yield to pedestrians.

The basic rules governing car-pedestrian interaction are found in the Texas Transportation Code. These statutes, enacted by the Texas Legislature, give a rough outline of when pedestrians are allowed to cross roadways:

  • When the crosswalk's sign indicates that a pedestrian may "WALK," the pedestrian is obviously allowed to cross the street. The pedestrian is NOT allowed to begin walking across a street when the sign indicates "WAIT" or "STOP." Further, if the pedestrian enters a roadway when the sign indicates "WALK" and then the sign switches to "WAIT" or "STOP," the pedestrian must get to the other side of the street or get to a safety island in the street's midway. During these travels, cars must yield.
  • When a vehicle is emerging from a building, alleyway, or private drive, they must yield the right of way to any pedestrians in the area. In other words, they must make sure no one is walking passed the area before they can pull out into traffic.
  • When blind, clearly incapacitated, or "obviously confused" pedestrians enter the road, drivers have a duty to slow down---or stop---to avoid hitting them. Under Texas law, someone carrying a white cane is signifying that they are blind. A motorist must take all possible precautions to avoid causing an accident when that person is attempting to cross a street.
  • When pedestrians are on sidewalks or footpaths, they naturally have the right of way there. Sidewalks are designed specifically for foot traffic, and any time a car leaves the road, they must yield to pedestrians. This means more than simply swerving off the road, but that when a car seeks to enter a building, a parking lot, or even the owner's driveway, the motorist must yield.
  • In parking lots, drivers must be on the lookout for pedestrians. Further, many parking lots having designated crosswalks for pedestrians leaving or entering the store, restaurant, or business---drivers must yield here, too.

You'll notice that much of this is basically common sense. Further, the Transportation Code adds another requirement: that of "due care." Drivers are legally obligated, in every interaction, to avoid injuring a pedestrian and must honk their horn or take evasive maneuvers. In essence, there is no definitive prohibition against hitting a pedestrian simply because they were in a roadway improperly.

Examples from pedestrian cases we've litigated.

Here are just some of the cases we've been involved in:

  • A pedestrian crossed into a street when the walk light switched to "WAIT." He then made his way to the safety island in the center of the roadway. An 18-wheeler drove far too close to the median and "clipped" the pedestrian with his sideview mirror. The pedestrian passed away. His surviving family brought us in and after a thorough investigation we were able to gather evidence and determine the facts of the case. With this in hand we were able to help the family recover damages.
  • A man left a restaurant late one evening and had a car accident on the side of a highway. He had a non-fatal car accident on a Dallas highway and called a friend to pick him up. His friend, thoroughly intoxicated, drove into the back of his car and killed him. Not only did we have a pedestrian/auto accident claim against the driver, but a dram shop case against the bar that served the driver, since Texas law allows you to pursue damage claims against establishments that irresponsibly serve alcohol. However, the investigation was also key in this case, because no bar ever calls up and says, "Hey, we saw that guy on the news, he was drinking way too much at our bar last night." Our firm has to track down these bars, and using TABC reports, financial records, eyewitness testimony, and even surveillance videos prove that the person responsible for the accident was in the bar and that they were improperly served.
  • A woman becomes shockingly intoxicated at a bar. She later has a car accident and begins walking on a crowded highway, screaming obscenities and removing her clothes. An innocent driver strikes her and stops in order to be a Good Samaritan to help her. Later, a negligently driven car comes barreling down the highway, striking and killing the Good Samaritan. It's easy to see from the description that it took some effort to track down everyone involved and gather the evidence necessary to establish the facts of the case. However, with that in hand we were able to help bring the case to a successful conclusions.

The facts of how we settled these cases are confidential, but in each of them---like all our cases---they required a thorough investigation into determining who was actually at fault and how many potential third parties could be held responsible. The bottom line in any pedestrian accident? There's no telling when our clients first walk through our doors exactly whom we can hold accountable for the incident.

The only things that can be counted on in any pedestrian accident case is that insurance companies claims processes will consistently undervalue the damages to the pedestrian and that the full facts of the case take a lot of work to prove.

Generally, the victims we represent are very truthful in their accounts, which gives our investigative team a leg up in determining what happened. However, without actual evidence that corroborates our client's story, insurance companies are reluctant to properly value the case and offer fair compensation. In most cases it takes the marriage of strong evidence and experienced litigators that bring about the best results for an injured pedestrian. That is why we cannot caution injured pedestrians enough that it is rarely a good idea to go it alone in a pedestrian accident case.

It's time to call the pedestrian accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices now.

When it comes to the complexities of getting a proper resolution to a pedestrian accident case, you need attorneys with tenacity, thoroughness, and a passion for putting in the long hours investigating and gathering evidence to bolster your case in order to get you what you actually deserve. That is how Michael Grossman has practiced law for over 25 years and that is how all of the attorneys at Grossman Law Offices operate. Don't trust your case to an attorney who hasn't been down this road before. Call us at (855) 326-0000 now.

The following related articles may be of interest to you, if you were injured in a car accident:

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