The most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that pedestrian accounted for an approximate average of 13 percent of traffic fatalities in the years 2004 through 2013. Most pedestrian accidents occur in rural areas, and the majority of pedestrian accidents occur at night. Surprisingly, most pedestrian accidents also occur at non-intersections.
Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?
It is incorrect to assume that pedestrians always have the right of way. In fact, in some pedestrian accidents, the pedestrian may be to blame because they failed to yield the right of way to the driver of a motor vehicle. Under Indiana Code Chapter 17, pedestrians are required to:
- Obey all of the instructions of a traffic control signal;
- Yield the right of way to vehicles when crossing a roadway where an overhead tunnel has been provided;
- Yield the right of way to traffic when crossing at a point other than a marked crosswalk; and
- Refrain from walking or running into the path of a vehicle.
Further, pedestrians are also required to use the shoulder or the outside edge of a roadway when walking along a highway where there is no sidewalk available. If the roadway is a two-way street, the pedestrian may only walk on the left side of the roadway.
These laws highlight that, while a pedestrian often does have the right of way – such as when crossing at a marked crosswalk – pedestrians also have a duty to follow the law and exercise caution when walking.
When Both Parties Are at Fault
There are situations when both the driver of a vehicle and the pedestrian may be at fault. Consider this situation: a pedestrian is walking on a sidewalk when they approach an intersection. Not seeing any vehicles in sight, the pedestrian decides to cross despite the fact that the traffic signal is displaying the words, “Don’t Walk.” While in the middle of the roadway, a vehicle approaches and hits the pedestrian. When police arrive, it is discovered the the driver of the vehicle is intoxicated.
In this case, the pedestrian and the driver may share fault, and any damages recoverable by the pedestrian will be reduced by the pedestrian’s percentage of fault.
Who Pays for a Pedestrian’s Injuries in a Crash?
Bodily liability insurance is designed to pay for all injuries caused by the driver of a vehicle to others, including pedestrians. Therefore, if the driver was at fault, their insurance coverage will pay for injuries up to their policy amount.
Because injuries are often so severe in pedestrian accidents, the victim – or their surviving family members – may choose to file a lawsuit in order to recover compensation instead. Doing so may yield a higher damages amount than filing a claim with an insurance company alone.