A pedestrian is usually someone traveling on foot. Pedestrians include anyone running, walking, jogging, or pushing a stroller. In North Carolina, bicyclists have a designated lane. If a bicyclist needs to travel on a sidewalk or cross an intersection due to the absence of a bicycle lane, they are pedestrians in the eyes of the law.
North Carolina reports close to 2200 pedestrian accidents that result in 150 to 200 fatalities every year. Negligence on the part of the motorists causes most of these accidents though the pedestrians may be responsible in a few cases.
When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?
Motorists must know that they are legally and morally responsible if they hit a pedestrian. Most of the accidents involving pedestrians occur due to motorists’ failure to see or yield to them. Instances where the pedestrians enjoy the right of way are:
- Pedestrians claim the right-of-way when crossing an intersection using a crosswalk
- When a pedestrian is at a crossing, waiting to cross, and the motorist arrives at an intersection with the intent to turn right
- Motorists must yield to a pedestrian at stop signs, alleys, private roads, driveways, building entrances; and at traffic signals with a flashing yellow, flashing red, or a steady red light
What are the Causes of Pedestrian Accidents and Personal Injuries?
Motorists at Fault
Distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding are the foremost causes of accidents resulting in fatalities or serious injuries for pedestrians. Drivers not yielding to pedestrians where required, turning at intersections, or backing their vehicles also add to many pedestrian injuries.
Pedestrians at Fault
Sometimes, pedestrians are also responsible for accidents when jaywalking or disobeying signals while distracted or intoxicated. Motorists have the right of way on the road except at a crosswalk, and the pedestrians who refuse to yield or suddenly dart into the road put themselves and others at risk.
Pedestrians walking along in the same direction as the moving vehicles are at risk of being hit from behind, while those talking or texting on a cell phone might fail to see any oncoming vehicles.
Instances Where the Pedestrian Can Be Blamed for the Accident
North Carolina law suggests that it is the duty of each one of us to look out for others when we are on public roads. This duty of care toward one another is a legal mainstay of society.
Like any other road-user, a pedestrian has a duty to be reasonably watchful and to follow traffic regulations. A pedestrian shows disregard for duty of care to motorists and is liable in a collision if they:
- Cross a road disobeying a traffic signal at an intersection
- Cross an intersection diagonally
- Cross a road between intersections
- Fail to pay proper attention to the traffic while crossing a road
- Stand, lie down, or play in the road
- Walk on the right, and in the direction identical to the flow of traffic on a road
- Step off the curb suddenly or dart into the road from behind stationary vehicles
If you are a victim of an accident and injured as a result, you will need a personal injury attorney to protect your rights as a pedestrian. Your attorney will try to establish if the motorist was at fault and caused the accident resulting in your injuries, which may make the at-fault driver liable.
At the same time, the motorist’s attorney will scrutinize your actions at the time of the accident to ascertain if you are culpable owing to any negligence on your part.
The NC Pure Contributory Negligence
The North Carolina law declares that an injured pedestrian cannot recover damages for their injuries if they are at fault in the accident to any degree. For an injured pedestrian to recover compensation, they must not be even one percent responsible for the accident.
- The pure contributory negligence law followed in North Carolina does not allow any compensation to the injured victim even if the defendant was ninety-nine percent at fault
- This may not hold true if the victim is a young child, however, and the court does not consider them legally responsible on account of being immature
- The statute of limitations to initiate legal proceedings for injuries to a pedestrian is three years, the same as with other North Carolina personal injury claims
- It is very rare for the court to award punitive damages in pedestrian injury claims
- If the accident results in the death of the pedestrian, the litigation turns into a wrongful death claim
- The statute of limitations in wrongful death claims is two years, instead of three
- In an accident resulting in grievous bodily harm, the motorist has a duty to stop, or else, the case becomes a class F felony
The outcome of a pedestrian accident claim can be unfair for the victim if the court declares the injured pedestrian to be contributorily negligent, but that is how the law stands in North Carolina.
Pedestrian Accident Attorney in North Carolina Can Help
If you or a loved one is a victim of a pedestrian accident in NC, personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can review the crash, and suggest legal options. Our dedicated attorneys work with investigators to establish that you have a valid accident claim and help you to recover damages. We can argue on your behalf and negotiate with insurers to help you claim compensation for your losses.
If you have suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident caused by a reckless or negligent driver, call us today at 800-752-0042 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.