ClickCease Who Is at Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?
01/26/24   |   By

Who Is at Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?

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Pedestrian Accidents
pedestrian accident - crosswalk with oncoming carWith a high commuter and tourist population in the Washington, DC metro area, pedestrian accidents are unfortunately rising. These accidents will often result in questions about liability and legal responsibility. Determining who is at fault in a pedestrian accident can be complicated. Negligence, traffic law adherence, and situational awareness will factor in the accident.

Our pedestrian accident lawyers can help you understand your rights as an injured pedestrian, driver obligations, and the need for expert legal guidance from firms like Regan Zambri Long, PLLC.

If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, we are here for you.

How to Determine Fault in a Pedestrian Accident

According to the Vision Zero initiative, between 2017 and 2021, 58 pedestrians died on District roadways, and 2159 pedestrians were injured. Determining fault in a pedestrian accident relies heavily on the principle of negligence. In essence, negligence establishes who failed to exercise reasonable care, leading to the accident.

What were the actions of both parties in the pedestrian accident?

To establish negligence, it is first essential to consider the actions of both the pedestrian and the driver. Did the pedestrian cross the road at a designated crosswalk or jaywalk? Was the driver speeding, distracted, or violating traffic laws?

These questions help establish whether the pedestrian or the driver acted negligently.  DC, MD and VA use contributory negligence, which can significantly impact the outcome of pedestrian accident cases.  This approach is quite different from comparative negligence systems, where compensation is allocated based on the extent of each party’s fault.

Traffic Laws and Pedestrian Accidents

Traffic laws and signals are also critical in negligence assessments. Drivers are generally expected to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. However, pedestrians are also expected to obey walk signals and not suddenly leave a curb or safe place. Violation of these laws can be a significant factor in determining fault.

Witnesses and Evidence in Pedestrian Accidents

Eyewitness accounts and evidence like surveillance footage can be invaluable in piecing together the accident events. They provide an objective perspective on the actions of both parties at the time of the accident.

Legal Action

Washington, DC pedestrian accident lawyers discussing a caseMost personal injury cases are settled with the insurance company and out of court. However, sometimes the insurance doesn’t provide the financial relief needed to recover from serious injuries. Or, the insurance company may question the liability of each party.

An injury law firm like Regan Zambri Long can help in such cases.

These professionals understand  the DC metro traffic laws, will analyze evidence, and provide an analysis of liability.

Who Can Be at Fault for Pedestrian Accidents?

We often think that the driver of the vehicle is always at fault for a pedestrian accident. However, multiple parties can be found liable. 

Negligent Drivers

The most common cause of a pedestrian accident involves a motor vehicle driver’s negligent behavior, including speeding, failing to obey traffic signals or yielding at a crosswalk, driving under the influence, or being distracted by a mobile device. Drivers are expected to exercise caution in areas with high pedestrian traffic.

Pedestrians and Contributory Negligence

Pedestrians can also be at fault if they act recklessly, including ignoring traffic signals, crossing outside a marked crosswalk, jaywalking into oncoming traffic, or walking while distracted. A pedestrian’s failure to adhere to safety norms can significantly contribute to an accident, causing significant injuries.  The opposing side may try to invoke a contributory negligence rule. Under contributory negligence law, typically, if the victim contributed to the accident in some way, they may be barred from financial recovery. However, there is an exception for victims who are pedestrians or other vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, and people who use wheelchairs).

Other Liable Parties in a Pedestrian Accident

Sometimes, when a car hits someone, it’s not always the driver’s fault. The car’s tire might burst, or there might be a problem from a construction site nearby.

Responsible parties could be:

  • The city or town
  • The company that designed the car
  • The company that made the car parts
  • The owner of private property
  • The construction company
  • The trucking company
  • The taxi or ridesharing service

A skilled pedestrian accident lawyer at Regan Zambri Long has the talent and experience to take on all parties involved.  We will explain who might be liable when a pedestrian is injured. 

Municipalities or Local Governments

In some instances, the maintenance of roads and crosswalks can contribute to pedestrian accidents. Poorly lit crosswalks, malfunctioning traffic signals, lack of signage, or inadequately maintained sidewalks can create hazardous conditions.

The responsible municipal or local government body could be liable for an accident due to poorly maintained or designed roads, crosswalks, or sidewalks.

Also, a city might have sovereign immunity laws that protect them from being sued. Even if they didn’t maintain the roads well or didn’t put up signs and lights, they might not be held responsible. 

Vehicle Manufacturers

Even if the driver seemingly caused the accident, the vehicle manufacturer may be to blame. If a defect in the car contributed to the accident, like faulty brakes, malfunctioning signals, or other mechanical issues, the victims could file a claim against the manufacturer.


The driver’s employer might be liable if a pedestrian is injured by a commercial vehicle, like an Amazon delivery van. However, it must be shown that the driver was on company time, completing company work, and using a commercial vehicle only during hours.

Even if the driver made a mistake, their employer might bear the responsibility through vicarious liability. A cab or rideshare service might be responsible instead of the driver. But these companies may have protections that say they are not to blame.  

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident? Call Regan Zambri Long.

Many factors can contribute to a pedestrian accident.  It could be the driver’s fault or the pedestrian’s carelessness. Sometimes, the city or the vehicle maker might be neglectful. Even employers could be responsible.

Call an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer at Regan Zambri Long for a no-obligation, free consultation. We provide comprehensive support and will help you determine fault accurately and advocate for your rights, ensuring you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.

Regan Zambri Long
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