How Is Liability Determined in Pedestrian Accidents?

personal injury lawyers Calgary

June isn’t over yet, but there are already 17 reported accidents involving pedestrians, according to the recent Calgary’s Timeline of Incidents Involving Pedestrians report

Pedestrian accident occurs when a motor vehicle driver negligently hits a pedestrian, which often occurs at busy intersections and even crosswalks. Pedestrians who fall in these motor vehicle accidents can suffer severe or fatal injuries.

However, we can’t assume that the driver is always at fault. In personal injury cases requiring legal process, further investigation must be carried out to determine who’s really liable. So, how is liability determined in pedestrian accidents? This calls for the assistance of personal injury lawyers Calgary for sound legal advice and accurate liability evaluation. 

Determining Liability in Pedestrian Accidents

Determining responsibility in pedestrian accidents is essential if you want to file a personal injury claim and secure compensation for damages (including lost wages and treatment fees). In the personal injury law, liability is usually established based on negligence—meaning one party didn’t exercise reasonable care and caused serious personal injury to another.

Role of Vehicle Drivers

In most cases, the vehicle driver involved in a pedestrian accident is liable. The Traffic Safety Act of Alberta dictates responsibility in any pedestrian-car accident. According to this Act, drivers must prove they were not liable.

This means the driver has the burden of proving they were not liable. They must demonstrate that a reasonable driver could not have prevented the accident under the specific circumstances. In some cases, this rule results in the driver being found 100% responsible.

Role of Pedestrians

Pedestrians can also be partially or fully responsible if they fail to exercise reasonable care. Liability on pedestrians may arise due to the following:

  • Jaywalking
  • Crossing against signals
  • Not using crosswalks
  • Distracted walking (like using smartphones)

These negligent behaviours may reduce the driver’s responsibility.

Role of Third Parties

Sometimes, multiple parties may share responsibility for a motor vehicle accident. The town or municipality can also be held liable for a motor vehicle accident.

  • Crowded streets and bad weather can limit visibility for both drivers and pedestrians.
  • Poor street lighting, especially at night, can also lead to accidents.
  • Malfunctioning traffic signals could contribute to motor vehicle accidents.

Calgary personal injury lawyers can assist in navigating the complexities of determining liability and pursuing personal injury claims.

Real-Life Case Samples

Bouchard Estate v. Chalifoux, 2004 – Pedestrian’s Liability

A pedestrian was hit while running across a road, which resulted in a wrongful death. The Court found the driver not liable because there wasn’t enough time to stop, and the driver acted reasonably by slowing down before the motor vehicle collision. The pedestrian’s entire claim was dismissed as he ran in front of the vehicle without warning.

H.C. (Dependent Adult) v. Loo, 2006 – Driver and Pedestrian’s Liability

A pedestrian was struck while crossing an unmarked crosswalk. Expert witnesses testified that she had been running across the road. The Court found the pedestrian 50% liable, deciding that stepping into an unmarked crosswalk without warning was unreasonable. Both the driver and pedestrian were equally liable for the collision.

Grabczewski v. Edmonton, 1984 – Third-Party’s Liability

The municipality was found liable for the plaintiff’s serious injuries after she was run over by a bus. The plaintiff had crossed the street but couldn’t step onto the curb due to ice and snow buildup on the edge of the sidewalk, which the municipality had allowed to accumulate over time.

Proving Negligence in Establishing Liability

In pedestrian accident cases, understanding the difference between these doctrines is crucial as it affects the outcome of personal injury claims and the compensation or settlement the clients might receive. To determine liability in pedestrian accident cases, proving negligence is essential. The key elements are:

  • Duty of Care: Drivers and pedestrians must practice reasonable care to prevent harm on the road. Failing to do so is considered negligence.
  • Breach of Duty: This occurs when someone fails to meet the expected standard of care. Examples include a driver speeding through a crosswalk or a pedestrian running into traffic without looking.
  • Causation: There should be a link between the breach of duty and the injuries sustained. It’s crucial to prove that the negligent actions caused the pedestrian’s injuries.

Comparative Negligence

How it Works 
Allows for partial recovery based on the degree of liability in an accident. If both the driver and the pedestrian are found to have contributed to the accident or wrongful death, the responsibility is divided into percentages.
Aim Encourages fairer distribution of damages and recognizes the shared responsibility in accidents.

If a pedestrian is 30% liable for jaywalking and the driver is 70% liable for speeding, he can still recover damages, but the amount will lessen depending on the percentage of fault. In this case, if the total damages were $10,000, the pedestrian would receive $7,000 (70% of $10,000).

Contributory Negligence

How it Works 
In the personal injury law, contributory negligence is a stricter rule. A pedestrian found to have any liability in a motor vehicle accident will result in their claim being statute barred. This means if the pedestrian’s actions contributed to the accident in any way, they cannot receive compensation.
Aim Can be more punitive, leaving an injured party without compensation if they had any part in causing the accident

If a pedestrian jaywalks and is hit by a speeding driver, even if the driver is mostly liable, the pedestrian may be unable to recover any damages because their jaywalking contributed to the accident.

The Role of Insurance

Following a car accident, an injured pedestrian can seek compensation through the other party’s insurance company for various damages, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Past lost wages and future loss of earnings
  • Reduced ability to do household chores
  • Future expenses related to the injuries
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

In a car accident, drivers and passengers are usually covered by their own car insurance policies. However, when a pedestrian is involved, the insurance coverage may differ.

The Role of Personal Injury Lawyers Calgary 

Calgary personal injury lawyers help in determining liability in a personal injury case. Here’s how: 

  • Investigating the Accident: Collecting traffic camera footage, witness statements, and police reports. 
  • Establishing Negligence: Proving duty of care, showing breach of duty, providing evidence of breaches like speeding or distracted driving, and linking causation
  • Assessing Damages: This involves evaluating lost wages, pain and suffering, and ongoing care and rehabilitation costs.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies: This includes claim filing, managing paperwork and insurance filings, negotiating a fair settlement with insurers, and preparing for personal injury litigation.
  • Providing Legal Advice: Calgary personal injury lawyer will inform clients about legal options with guidance through legal representation.
  • Defending Against Contributory Negligence Claims: Calgary personal injury lawyers can help challenge the blame or defend against accusations of liability. They work tirelessly to minimize the share of responsibility for maximum compensation.

Seek Legal Help from an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Any car accident involving pedestrians requires a thorough investigation to establish negligence and determine who’s liable. If you’re involved in a car accident, proving you’re not liable allows you to recover damages and seek a fair settlement. This requires a collaborative approach with a dependable personal injury lawyer for your best interests.

Call a personal injury lawyer early to compensate for your suffered injuries and damages. Navigate personal injury law with a reliable personal injury lawyer at Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers Calgary. Visit our law firm and get a free consultation to address your claims in a timely manner.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of comparative negligence?

  1. Pure Comparative Negligence: This allows the injured victim to recover damages regardless of the degree of liability, though the recovery amount is reduced by their liability percentage. For example, a pedestrian who is 90% liable can still recover 10% of the total damages.
  2. Modified Comparative Negligence: Limits recovery if the injured party’s liability reaches a certain threshold, normally 50% or 51%. For example: If a pedestrian is 51% liable, he can’t recover damages. But if he’s 50% or less liable, he recovers damages reduced by his liability percentage.

What’s the difference between insured and uninsured pedestrians?

Insured Pedestrians

  • If a pedestrian is covered by an insurance policy (either their own or as a dependent), their ability to seek damages depends on the driver’s insurance coverage.
  • If the driver is insured, the pedestrian’s damages and no-fault benefits are covered by the driver’s insurance.
  • If the driver is uninsured or cannot be identified (like in a hit-and-run), the pedestrian’s own insurance policy compensates for damages and provides no-fault benefits.

Uninsured Pedestrians

  • If a pedestrian doesn’t have insurance coverage, their ability to seek damages also relies on the driver’s insurance.
  • If the driver is insured, the pedestrian’s damages are covered by the driver’s insurance policy.
  • Benefits can be negotiated regardless of the driver’s insurance status in cases where a pedestrian lacks coverage.

Should I file a personal injury claim after a motor vehicle accident?

  • Injury Severity: Any serious personal injury like spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries can lead to lost wages and reduced quality of life. A claim can help cover these expenses.
  • Liability: If the accident was caused by the driver or another party’s negligence, you may have a strong case for settlement. Get advice from a reliable personal injury lawyer to evaluate your claim.
  • Insurance Coverage: Insurance companies may try to minimize payouts. A dependable personal injury lawyer from a reputable law firm can help with your claims and ensure you’ll receive the maximum settlement for your suffered injuries.
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