We often get asked, "Do pedestrians always have the right-of-way?"
And we always answer that their is almost no such thing as "always" when it comes to the law. Since that's the case, and because the law clearly states otherwise, no, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way.
However, pedestrians are always owed some consideration by motorists. Texas law requires drivers to "exercise due care" to avoid pedestrians. Even if a pedestrian is breaking a traffic law and crossing the street in an improper manner, that never gives someone legal grounds to run over a motorist. Of course, there are many times when drivers do not "exercise due care" and when that occurs, and a pedestrian is injured, the driver can be held responsible for the pedestrian's damages.
The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have represented numerous pedestrians over the years who have been injured by a negligent driver. During this time we have helped our clients maximize the value of their case.
Questions answered on this page:
- What does the law really say about pedestrians and the right-of-way?
- Why is the right-of-way so important in litigation?
- Can the pedestrian not have the right-of-way and still recover damages if they are injured?
- How can an experienced car accident attorney help maximize your case?
Pedestrians don't always have the right of way.
We're not exactly sure where this myth started, but from the time many of us were kids, we heard that pedestrians had some sort of "super right" to walk wherever they wanted and cars had to give way. This is dangerously untrue and contradicts a more truthful maxim that we are all taught as children, "Look both ways before you cross the street." If you think about it, if pedestrians always had the right-of-way, why would anyone teach their child to look both ways before crossing a street? The simple fact is that there are many restrictions about when and where pedestrians must actually yield to cars. Here are just some examples:
- When a sidewalk is available, pedestrians cannot walk on the road.
- At crosswalks with signals, pedestrians must wait until the light says "WALK." It doesn't matter if no cars are apparent at the time; the law requires us to wait until the signal changes.
- Once the signal at a crosswalk switch to "WAIT" or "STOP," the pedestrian must make their way to either a safety island in the middle of the road or reach the other side as quickly as possible, whichever is closest.
- Pedestrians must yield to cars on highways at all times.
Much of this is common sense when you think about it. The law dictates that cars and pedestrians are to share the road. Neither is allowed to proceed without exercising a reasonable amount of care and concern for others. So, for example, a motorist isn't responsible for a roadway death when a pedestrian intentionally runs out onto a busy street to attempt suicide. However, a motorist will likely be responsible if he's driving 50 mph in a 25 mph residential area and hits a child running out into the street after a loose basketball.
How these rules may impact your pedestrian-car accident case.
The motorist who caused your accident will have an insurance company---with its own lawyers---who will try everything they can to paint the accident in a negative light towards the victim. They'll try to argue that you or your loved one failed to yield the right-of-way to the car or truck that actually caused the accident. The problem is made worse by the fact that there may or may not have been neutral witnesses at the scene who can remember exactly what happened, whether you or your loved one DID have a right-of-way, or much about the accident at all.
If you are a pedestrian, with a uninsured motorist policy, and you are struck by a car, you may also have a claim against your own insurance policy. First, you would pursue the claim against the driver who hit you. Since passenger car insurance minimums are generally in the tens of thousands of dollars, there is a fairly decent chance the other person's insurance will not be enough to cover your damages. In those case you could file a claim for the rest of your damages under the UIM provisions in your own policy.
This increases the pool of money available for you to recover your damages, but instead of fighting with one insurance company, you now have to fight with two. Just like the other person's insurance company will try to prove that you were at fault for your own injuries, so will your insurance company if you attempt to recover under an uninsured motorist provision. Of course, that is nothing to be afraid of if you have excellent legal representation.
How Grossman Law Offices approaches pedestrian cases.
Due to the inherent ambiguity that these cases can bring, we don't take the easy route by hoping we find the right evidence. We chase down every possible lead for information that could help your claim---that means every potential witness, all police photographs taken at the scene, and especially, any roadway or private business security camera footage we can find. In addition, we'll bring in an accident reconstructionist to scientifically bolster the evidence in the case, which strengthens your claim.
We recently had a case in Galveston, Texas where two men were hit by a drunk driver as they walked on---or possibly near---the seawall, which is essentially a large sidewalk. The defense was claiming that there wasn't any evidence that the victims weren't just walking in the middle of the road when they were hit. After a lot of work, we were able to find out that a local quickie mart had captured the entire incident on their security camera. After obtaining the video and having our videographer enhance it, we could all see that the victims were plainly on the sidewalk when they were hit. We were able to get their families a great deal of money.
If you want that kind of tenacity on your side, it's time you reach out to Grossman Law Offices for help. We'll walk you through the process, free of charge, at (855) 326-0000 now.
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