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Automobile Accidents – Who’s Liable When Risky Behavior is Involved?

Picture this, a dark night, possibly raining and it’s very hard to navigate the road. Suddenly, you come upon someone walking whose dark clothing makes them nearly invisible. A situation like this can be extremely startling, since you wouldn’t expect to see a person walking in such a dangerous place. One might think, if I accidently hit this person, who’s at fault?

This is a difficult situation, as pedestrians always have the right of way over a motor vehicle.  It is important to realize that if an accident occurs, there are situations where pedestrians don’t always walk away in the clear. Personal injury law requires that liability be proven. In some cases, fault or negligence can be applied in percentages of the whole.  There are some cases where a pedestrian could be found negligent in their behavior and therefore found by a court to take on a percentage of the fault in an accident. Following are a few examples:

  • A pedestrian runs into the road. In the eyes of the law, both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to use “reasonable care” on the roads and highways.  When the failure to exercise the appropriate amount of care causes a traffic accident, the driver or the pedestrian will be deemed negligent.
  • When pedestrian laws are broken. A pedestrian may be considered negligent if any of the following causes or contributes to an accident: 1) jaywalking, 2) crossing against traffic lights (walking when it says “Don’t Walk”), 3) walking where pedestrian access is prohibited by law, i.e. on a bridge or highway with no shoulder.

What if both the pedestrian and the driver are at fault? In the State of Rhode Island, Comparative Fault is used to determine personal injury settlements. Comparative Fault means that if an injured person is partially at fault for causing his own injuries, his damages are reduced by the percentage of his fault. For example, an individual was injured in a car accident for which they were 80% at fault. Damages for their injury amount to $10,000. This individual would be entitled to recover $2,000 for their injuries, that is, $10,000 less 80% or $8,000 reflecting their percentage of fault in the accident.

As with any legal situation, it is important to realize that every situation is different. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact your personal injury lawyer to discuss your scenario in more detail.

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