Can Pedestrians Be at Fault for Car Accidents?


While you may have heard the familiar adage “pedestrians have the right of way,” this is only true in specific circumstances. Pennsylvania does have right-of-way laws that protect people at crosswalks and if they follow traffic signals. Pedestrians are also protected in driveways, alleyways, and any sidewalks that intersect roads or other vehicle-accessible avenues.

These laws, however, do not protect pedestrians in the following situations:

  • When they jaywalk
  • When they use crosswalks but ignore traffic lights or signals
  • When they walk where pedestrian access is prohibited, such as on highways or bridges
  • When they are reckless, intoxicated, or negligent

Drivers will always have the right of way if someone is crossing anywhere that isn’t designated as a safety zone, such as a crosswalk. Drivers also have the right of way on highways and other areas where pedestrians are not allowed to walk. Even if a pedestrian needs to walk on the side of the road (after their car breaks down, for example), they need to be as far away from traffic as possible and must walk on the left side (facing traffic).

Like motorists, pedestrians have an obligation to act with reasonable caution and care. They should be aware of their surroundings at all times, obey traffic laws, and never assume that a motorist can see them. For example, texting or other smartphone use while walking can lead to a serious pedestrian accident that is not the motorist’s fault. A pedestrian who is scrolling through social media and walks out into a crosswalk when he or she doesn’t have the right of way is an illustration of this.

Pedestrians can also cause auto accidents that harm drivers and their passengers, yet not the pedestrian. This can happen when a driver swerves or stops suddenly to avoid striking a pedestrian. A driver could swerve and hit a streetlight or even a building. A driver could stop suddenly and be rear-ended. The scenarios may vary, but the end result would be the same: the pedestrian would have been uninjured and the vehicle occupants would have suffered serious harm.

If you were injured in a collision caused by or involving a pedestrian, it’s important to work with an attorney who will take the time to understand your side and fight to protect your rights. Part of this will be determining what to do to hold an at-fault pedestrian accountable.

What Happens When a Pedestrian Causes a Car Accident?

In cases where a car has collided with a pedestrian, insurance companies will look at both involved parties to determine liability. The same applies if a driver was injured in an accident because he or she swerved or stopped to avoid striking a pedestrian. The investigation will include an analysis of physical evidence, witness testimony, police reports, and other information to determine what caused the crash in the first place. Accident reconstruction may also be used to display how the pedestrian and driver interacted with one another, traffic signals, and the roadway.

As far as fault and who will pay for an injured driver or pedestrian’s medical bills, that will depend on who was to blame. If a pedestrian was violating traffic laws and was struck and injured by a car, the driver’s insurance company might not have to pay the pedestrian’s medical bills. If the car was damaged and the driver was hurt as a result of the pedestrian’s negligence, the driver could actually sue the pedestrian for damages. This could play out in different ways, because there are many different factors to consider.

Pennsylvania also has a modified comparative fault rule, which allows liability to be shared. If a driver struck a pedestrian in a crosswalk and an investigation revealed that the pedestrian was 80% to blame, the driver would be entitled to that percentage of damages from the pedestrian. Out of a $100,000 claim, $20,000 would be paid by the driver’s insurance policy and the pedestrian would be responsible for the other $80,000.

Talk to a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

If you were injured as a pedestrian, driver, or passenger, you can find answers and insight from the team of Pennsylvania injury attorneys at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC. We have been fighting for clients throughout Pennsylvania since 1922 and know the ins and outs of traffic laws, negligence, and who should be held responsible for accidents of all kinds. When pedestrians are to blame for car accidents, we have the tools and resources to determine and prove fault, helping our clients recover the fair compensation they deserve.

To learn more about the ways we can help you, call (888) 498-3023 or contact us online. Your consultation is free and confidential!

Related Posts
  • Halloween Safety Tips for Drivers, Pedestrians & Party Hosts Read More
  • Autonomous Vehicles & Auto Accident Liability in Pennsylvania Read More
  • 6 Safety Tips to Avoid a May Car Accident Read More
Recent Posts
  • It’s No “Accident:” Driver Behavior Is the Leading Cause of Crashes Statewide Read More
  • How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Impact Workers’ Compensation? Read More
  • 5 HHR Attorneys Included in 2024 Super Lawyers List Read More