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Accidents Involving Pedestrians: Who is at Fault? -

July 11, 2013

Each year, Canada sees a huge number of accidents that involve pedestrians. Unfortunately, accidents that combine pedestrians and vehicles often result in serious injuries or deaths. Insurance companies that investigate these incidents must decide who is at fault using rules that vary depending on the province. In every case, one must keep in mind that the way insurance companies determine fault is not the same as how the legal system determines it. Regardless of what insurance companies decide, legal consequences may or may not be forthcoming.

Right of Way and Pedestrians

In each province, a different set of laws governs the rights of pedestrians when they walk on local roads.  The laws tend to favor pedestrians as pedestrians have a greater chance of suffering severe injury in case of a collision. The government expects drivers to take care around pedestrians and stay aware of their actions in order to reduce the likelihood of accidents.

Pedestrians also have to follow certain laws on the roadways. For example, they must cross streets only at designated crosswalks and carefully choose clothing in order to stay safe and more visible to drivers on the road. However, insurance companies are still likely to find drivers at fault even in situations where pedestrians lack the right of way.

Most Frequent Pedestrian Accidents

The most common pedestrian accident is being hit by vehicles as they are trying to cross the street. When pedestrians are hit while crossing the street legally and at designated crosswalks, insurance companies and courts are likely to find the driver at fault. When pedestrians are crossing the street during a green light and the driver is waiting to turn right, pedestrians still have the right of way by law. This means that drivers must wait until pedestrians are clear before making the turn to ensure safety for both parties.

Sometimes, pedestrians move into the roadway unexpectedly for any number of reasons, and drivers may not have time to stop before hitting them. The driver may be found to be at fault in this case depending on variables in the circumstances of the accident. Drivers must be aware and careful when driving near pedestrians. Extra caution should be used while driving past children or others that might suddenly move into the roadway without warning.

Pedestrian Accidents and Violations of Traffic Law

If pedestrians are struck by a driver that is also violating traffic laws, such as running a red light or exceeding the speed limit, this fact will probably have a strong impact on whether the driver is determined to be at fault.

Accidents Happening When Drivers Avoid Pedestrians

In some cases, drivers are involved in accidents in which pedestrians play a part but do not suffer injuries. For example, a driver might suddenly hit the brakes or swerve to avoid hitting a pedestrian. In the process, the driver may collide with a stationary object or another vehicle. Whether the pedestrian is at fault in this situation varies between provinces. Fault Determination Rules in Ontario apply here no matter what part is played by the pedestrian. However, auto insurance companies in other provinces will look at the case on an individual basis to determine if the pedestrian is at fault.

If a driver has a collision with an object as a result of avoiding a pedestrian, the driver may be found to be at fault when the situation does not involve any other vehicles or drivers. If the same situation occurs but does involve another vehicle, fault will be determined in consideration of the part played by the second driver in causing the collision. This means that if your car is hit by another car from behind as you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian, the other driver might be found to be at fault as a result of leaving too little distance between their vehicle and yours.

On roadways everywhere, drivers should stay alert for pedestrians and be extra careful when they are nearby. No matter who is to blame for an accident, pedestrians are at greater risk of serious injury or death compared to the driver inside a vehicle. Drive slowly when pedestrians are around, and be sure to concentrate when you get behind the wheel so that you never fail to spot pedestrians with whom you share the roadway.

Looking for more information regarding car accidents? The following articles should be of interest to you:

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