Personal Injury

Pedestrian Accidents and Negligence

Posted by on Jan 5, 2014 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

A car accident that involves a pedestrian often results in serious injury, and perhaps death. There is no fair contest between speeding metal and yielding soft flesh, which is why 33 states in the U.S. have a modified comparative negligence policy when it comes to car-pedestrian accidents. The thought of being severely injured in a car accident is an absolute nightmare. And knowing that this tragic could be caused because of someone else’s carelessness is absolutely sickening. This means that there is more emphasis on the driver when it comes to liability, and as long as the fault of the pedestrian is 50% or less (51% bar rule) or 49% or less (50% bar rule), the pedestrian or qualified family member may make a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver. In its pure form, comparative negligence places the limit to the extent that the pedestrian is at fault at 99%, but the awards will still be reduced by this extent. Twelve states enforce this pure form of comparative negligence.

On the other hand, there are 5 states that maintain a pure form of contributory negligence when it comes to a pedestrian accident. This means that if the pedestrian is in any way, in the slightest degree, responsible for the accident i.e. failing to use the crosswalk, then no claim can be made against the driver, even if the driver was demonstrably negligent  i.e. intoxicated. These states are Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The burden of proof falls entirely on the plaintiff to show that the victim was in no way at fault for the accident, and that the driver was wholly negligent. In these states, the legal representation of the plaintiff must be exceptionally skilled in pedestrian accident cases.

In the states that follow the modified comparative fault rule, such as Pennsylvania which follows the 51% bar rule, the burden of proof is a little lighter, although the degree of fault of the pedestrian will reduce the award by that much. It still requires a competent lawyer to ensure just compensation as the driver’s insurance lawyers will stretch the point as far as it will go to prove the victim’s fault beyond the threshold given half a chance to avoid paying any claim.

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