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Is a pedestrian ever at fault in a car crash?

Chicago pedestrian accident attorneys

When you’re behind the wheel, you need to keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians. No one wants to cause a crash, especially one involving a pedestrian. Even at a low speed, a car’s impact with a person's unprotected body can lead to significant injuries or even death.

But in pedestrian crashes, is the driver always to blame?

What are the responsibilities of a pedestrian?

A pedestrian needs to be alert and use good judgment when entering a roadway. The following are some of the tips for pedestrians to follow outlined by SafeMotorist.com:

  • Use sidewalks: If there is no sidewalk, stay as close to the left side of the street as possible and face traffic as you walk.
  • Use crosswalks: Walk across the street in a crosswalk at an intersection, or stay in a marked crosswalk when getting to the other side of a road.
  • Eye contact: Make sure drivers see you if you’re in the street.
  • Obey traffic signals: If you’re in an intersection, don’t walk against a red light.
  • Look left and then right before crossing the street: Continue to look in both directions as you cross.
  • Be alert: Stay aware of your surroundings, especially at intersections where drivers can turn right on red.

When an insurance company says a pedestrian is at fault

If a pedestrian is struck by a car, the insurance company for the driver will look at evidence, such as the police report, to determine if the person on foot was at fault. For example, if a pedestrian suddenly darts across a street in front of a moving car where there is no crosswalk, the driver may have no time to yield and may strike the person. In this case, the pedestrian might be ruled at fault. Legally, the person on foot and the driver have a duty to exercise reasonable care.

Note that we say the pedestrian might be ruled at fault, but even is such a seemingly clear-cut example, there may be other factors that could shift at least some of the blame to the driver. In the scenario above, let’s say the driver was speeding or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In that case, the driver and the pedestrian may share liability. It all depends on the facts of the case.

Under Illinois law, a pedestrian may see a reduced amount of compensation if he or she is found to bear some responsibility. Crash victims may collect compensation as long as they are not more than 50 percent at fault, but any compensation awarded is reduced by the victim's percentage of fault (so if the pedestrian is, say, 20 percent at fault, their award is reduced by 20 percent). Pedestrians who exceed the 50 percent threshold are not permitted to recover any compensation from the driver.

What this means, practically speaking, is that the insurance company has a strong financial incentive to show the pedestrian was at fault. If the pedestrian is found even partially responsible for the crash, the insurance company pays that much less; if the pedestrian is found more than 50 percent at fault, the insurance company pays nothing. It's true that pedestrians sometimes really are at fault, but the insurance company is hardly an unbiased arbiter of truth in these instances. That's why it's critically important for an injured pedestrian to have an experienced attorney on their side.

How an attorney can help

If you were injured in a pedestrian crash, you may be dealing with an insurance company that argues you were more than 50 percent at fault. You don’t have to accept that as the final word. An experienced attorney can investigate on your behalf and bring the facts to light.

Contact Keating Law Offices, P.C., for a free consultation. Our Chicago pedestrian crash attorneys will listen to you and then discuss the next steps. In many cases, we negotiate settlements that exceed our clients’ expectations. We also are prepared to take a case to trial in cases where the insurance company disputes fault.

Trust Keating Law Offices, P.C. to handle your claim. Talk to us today. We are contingency fee lawyers, which means you pay no fees unless we win.

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