Pedestrian Accidents: Can the Pedestrian Ever be Liable?

According to an article in the Norcross Patch, just last week a Gwinnett police officer seriously injured two pedestrians when the officer’s car left the roadway, drove up on the curb, and struck the pedestrians who has been walking on the sidewalk. One pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center, while the other pedestrian’s injuries are reported as not life-threatening. This pedestrian accident is a strange one because there is currently no explanation as to why the accident occurred. How and why the officer left the roadway is currently under investigation, the outcome of which will likely have a big impact on the pedestrians’ personal injury lawsuit, should they choose to sue.

At first glance, one might assume that the police officer who was driving will automatically be held legally liable if there is a resulting lawsuit. But is this always the case? In automobile-pedestrian accidents is the driver always at fault? Can the pedestrian ever be liable? This article provides a brief overview of the laws in Georgia that generally apply in pedestrian accidents and seeks to explain how pedestrians in Georgia can in fact be legally liable, either partially or wholly, in automobile-pedestrian accidents.

How is Fault Determined in an Automobile-Pedestrian Accident?

Drivers in Georgia owe a duty to other people on the road, including pedestrians, to drive reasonably. When a driver breaches that duty by acting in a negligent manner and causes an accident, anyone who is harmed in the crash can hold the negligent driver liable for his or her injuries. In other words, in order to hold the driver liable in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party must prove:

  • That the driver owed them a duty of care,
  • That the driver breached that duty of care, and
  • That the driver’s breach of duty caused them compensable injuries.

Drivers can act negligently, and consequently breach their duty of care to others, in a variety of different ways. For example, a court may find that a driver acted negligently if he or she was speeding, texting while driving, running a red light, driving while intoxicated, etc. But what if a pedestrian’s negligence contributed to or caused the automobile-pedestrian accident? Pedestrians also have a duty to act reasonably, therefore, liability can be attributed to them in the same way as it can to drivers. For example, a pedestrian who acts negligently by jaywalking, crossing against traffic, or stumbling into the street while intoxicated, can be held partially or wholly liable for any resulting accident.

What if Both the Driver and the Pedestrian are Partially Liable?

If a court determines that a driver was 100% at fault for causing an automobile-pedestrian accident then the liable driver will have to pay for 100% of the damage that he or she caused. Conversely, if a court determines that the pedestrian was wholly liable then he or she will have to pay 100% of the damages. However, in automobile-pedestrian cases, courts often find both parties to be partially liable and attributes a certain percentage of fault to each party based on their actions. In Georgia, a partially negligent party can still recover damages as long as he or she was less than 50% at-fault for causing the accident. However, this partially negligent party’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to their fault.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident in Georgia keep in mind that you may still be entitled to compensation even if the accident was partially your fault. For a free case evaluation, contact the Angell Law Firm today at (770) 217-4954.

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