Liability for Pedestrian Collisions Caused by Vehicles Backing Up
Some of the most serious collisions occur when a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle in the process of backing up. It’s a commonly held thought that pedestrians always have the right of way, but that is not an accurate statement of the law. There are a few factors involved in a pedestrian-car collision that determines liability of the parties.
There are certain scenarios in which the driver of the vehicle is presumed to be liable for the accident. These include situations where the driver disobeyed a traffic control signal, such as running a red light or failing to stop at a stop sign. For pedestrians, if the pedestrian is jaywalking at the time of the accident or if they are disobeying a traffic control device, the pedestrian can be liable for the accident.
Of course, there are other instances in which the liability of the parties is unclear. One of these instances occurs when a vehicle is backing up and strikes a pedestrian, causing a collision. If the pedestrian darted out in front of the vehicle, making it impossible for the driver to have seen the pedestrian in time to avoid a collision, the driver may not be the one at fault. In another similar scenario, if this time the driver was distracted in some way such as playing with their radio or texting on their phone, and did not make sure the coast was clear before backing up their vehicle, then the driver is most likely the one at fault.
In order to fully understand liability in these types of collisions, you must first determine whether your state is a contributory negligence state or if your state follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. Contributory negligence means that if you are the injured party, you may not be entitled to damages if the defendant driver can prove that your actions had any part in causing the car accident. You would need to be completely free of fault in order to be compensated as a pedestrian for damages resulting from a collision with a driver of a vehicle.
If your state is a comparative negligence state then even if you, as the pedestrian, had anything to do with causing the accident, you would not be barred from recovering damages for your injuries. There are two types of comparative negligence. These are pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. These concepts generally come into play at the time of a jury verdict or a judge’s ruling if the case is heard as a bench trial.
In pure comparative negligence states, the verdict or award is reduced by the amount of contribution you made to the injury, in a percentage based determination. For example, if a jury found that you were twenty percent responsible for the accident, and they awarded you a verdict, your verdict would be reduced by twenty percent. In modified comparative negligence states, there is a cap in place at fifty percent. This means that if a jury determined you were fifty percent or more responsible for the accident, then you would be barred from recovery. You would only recover damages in these states if you were less than fifty percent at fault for the accident.
Car accidents involving a driver backing up and striking a pedestrian can be extremely dangerous. It is important to speak with a personal injury attorney if you have questions or concerns about your accident, especially if you are unsure who was at fault for the collision.