Pedestrian personal injury as a result of an accident
An obvious source of injuries are pedestrians hurt on the portion of a roadway where vehicles travel, park or maneuver. Vehicles have certain rights on the road, as do pedestrians. In general, when a pedestrian is on a road surface, vehicles have the right-of-way unless the pedestrian is in a crosswalk. Crosswalks are marked or unmarked. Marked crosswalks can be anywhere. Unmarked crosswalks are at the intersection of crossing streets, right where you would expect to see a marked crosswalk. However, by statute, there is a crosswalk there whether or not it is marked.
If a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, a vehicle must yield to the pedestrian. However if the pedestrian is on the roadway at any location other than a marked or unmarked crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield to the car. This gets very difficult under some facts. If a person is exiting a car on the driver’s side, for instance, that person must yield to any vehicle on the road. I think that some people feel that they can open a driver’s side door with impunity if they are normally exiting a vehicle. Not so; they must look for and avoid traveling vehicles, which have the right-of-way.
Further, a pedestrian cannot move into a crosswalk if a vehicle is already moving to cross it and cannot stop to avoid the pedestrian. Pedestrians are also required to use sidewalks if they are available, and walk against traffic on the left side of the road if there are no sidewalks. Obviously the laws are devised to help protect pedestrians from injuries caused by accident with a motor vehicle and most of these regulations sound quite logical.
Bicycles are a curious hybrid. They have all of the rights that a pedestrian would enjoy where pedestrians enjoy those rights. However, once off sidewalks and crosswalks, bicycles have all of the obligations applicable to motorized vehicles. To confuse things a bit further, vehicles have a duty to exercise care under all circumstances. What does that mean? Even if a pedestrian is violating a rule, a vehicle must nevertheless use care to avoid the pedestrian. This makes predicting liability in advance of an event difficult at times.
The rules on the rights and obligations of vehicles, pedestrians and bikes are very technical and at times apparently conflicting. If someone is injured, the conduct of the parties is measured against statutory provisions and these rights and obligations sorted out afterward for the first time with respect to the facts of the mechanism of the injury. If you are a pedestrian who is hit, it will be necessary to evaluate the exact facts of the accident and measure those against the many statutory provisions on pedestrians and bicycles.
The governing principle for pedestrians should always be “whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, it is going to be bad for the pitcher”.
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