What Happens If Someone Walks In Front Of Your Car?
When any kind of motor vehicle collides with a pedestrian, there are likely to be catastrophic injuries. You’ve probably heard that pedestrians always have the right of way, but is that true? No, it’s not.
If someone walks in front of your car and you hit them, you’ll probably be very upset. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re responsible for the accident, and you may not be liable to pay compensation. Many factors go into making that determination, and hiring a pedestrian accident attorney can protect your interests.
Who Is a Pedestrian?
According to Michigan law, pedestrians aren’t just those walking on foot. Also included are:
- Those using a power-driven mobility device
- Horse riders
- Horse and buggy drivers and passengers
- Those using non-motorized wheelchairs
What Laws Do Pedestrians Have To Follow?
Each state may have its own laws regarding pedestrians, and cities or towns can have local ordinances. These may vary, so you — and your attorney — need to know which applies to your case.
Crossing a street at a busy intersection in Detroit is different than crossing a lazy residential street or rural road. Both pedestrians and drivers should be aware of their responsibilities.
- If there are traffic signals nearby or within business districts, pedestrians should use crosswalks.
- If there is a WALK/ DON’T WALK signal, pedestrians should only begin crossing when the WALK signal is present. However, the pedestrian retains the right of way if they are in the crosswalk when the DON’T WALK signal changes.
- Pedestrians should use sidewalks when they are present.
- If no sidewalk exists, pedestrians should travel on the left side of the road against traffic if practical.
- If no crosswalk exists, pedestrians can cross a street at a right angle to the curb. They also must yield to vehicular traffic.
Pedestrians should never cross a street or road at an angle, especially at intersections. They should always travel straight across a street, even if that means they’ll need to make two crossings to get to an opposite street corner.
What if Someone Walks in Front of Your Car?
Every pedestrian accident is different, and each can occur for different reasons. As we mentioned earlier, there are several factors that investigators and attorneys consider in this type of accident:
- Where and how was the pedestrian crossing a street? If the pedestrian had the right of way, you are probably responsible for the collision if other mitigating circumstances don’t apply.
- Did the car’s driver have time to stop to avoid hitting the pedestrian? In cases where a pedestrian who doesn’t have the right-of-way suddenly appears in front of a car and the car’s driver doesn’t have enough time to avoid hitting them, the pedestrian may be at fault.
- Are both parties partially responsible for the accident? Say a pedestrian walks in front of you suddenly, but you failed to avoid a collision because you were distracted. In an accident like this, both the pedestrian and the driver may share responsibility.
- Was a traffic signal or WALK/ DON’T WALK signal malfunctioning? Government agencies are responsible for these signals. If you can prove that a malfunctioning signal is the direct cause of your pedestrian accident, you and the pedestrian may have a valid case against the government.
- Were other motor vehicles involved? In any car accident, especially those involving multiple vehicles, the impact can cause autos to flip, turn, or move unexpectedly. Suppose that another driver caused an accident involving your vehicle. If you hit a pedestrian as a result, the responsible driver may be at fault.
The answers to all of these questions — and others — can affect who is liable for the injuries and damages pedestrian accidents can cause. As you can see, circumstances vary greatly. Every accident requires an in-depth investigation, especially if the cause of the accident isn’t immediately apparent.
What Should You Do if a Pedestrian Appears in Front of Your Car?
If possible, you should stop or swerve to avoid a collision. However, if you do hit the pedestrian, there are several things you should do immediately:
- Try to assist the victim.
- Dial 911 to report the accident and the severity of injuries the pedestrian suffered.
- Use your phone to take photos and videos of the scene, the victim, witnesses present, and any statements.
- Accept or seek a medical assessment, even if you don’t think you suffered any injuries.
- Contact a pedestrian accident attorney.
Under no circumstances should you admit to fault. Don’t even say that you’re sorry because that is sometimes considered an admission of fault. Your attorney from the Mike Morse Law Firm will give you more information and advice.
What If More Than One Party Is Responsible?
Michigan uses modified comparative negligence when more than one person is responsible for causing an accident, injuries, and damages. This system assigns a percentage of fault to each guilty party and establishes who can seek compensation for damages.
Say that Jill is a pedestrian who is 50% responsible for causing the accident that injured her, and total economic damages are $100,000. In Michigan, the amount of economic damages an injured accident victim can receive is reduced by their percentage of fault.
In Jill’s case, the most she can obtain is $50,000: $100,000 – 50% = $50,000. Further, because Jill is 50% or more to blame, she can’t seek any non-economic damages.
What Are Damages?
Michigan allows three categories of damages in personal injury cases.
Any accident involving vehicles and pedestrians is likely to cause injuries and property damage. Economic damages compensate injured victims for specific costs, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages due to time missed from work
- Certain daily expenses, like costs associated with hiring a caregiver
- Damaged property repair or replacement
You’ll need to show proof of these expenses to qualify for compensation. Keep your receipts, invoices, and statements. Your attorney from the Mike Morse Law Firm will use them.
Some injuries cause damages that don’t have an exact monetary value. Eligible victims may receive compensation for non-economic damages like:
- Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
- Anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Losing the ability to fully enjoy life
- Damage caused to personal relationships
Keep in mind that you may not qualify for non-economic damages. Ask your attorney from the Mike Morse Law Firm if these apply to your case.
Some states use punitive damages in cases where the guilty party acted recklessly or with malicious or willful intent and caused an injury. Punitive damages are given to the victim as further punishment to the defendant.
Michigan’s exemplary damages are similar, but the reason behind them is different. When a case is eligible for exemplary damages, they may be awarded to the victim to compensate for the nature of the defendant’s conduct.
Why Should You Contact the Mike Morse Law Firm?
As Michigan’s largest personal injury law firm, we have the knowledge and experience to represent you competently. We understand how pedestrian laws work and how to build a case that shows what really happened.
The Mike Morse Law Firm understands that accidents can happen at any time, so someone is available to speak to you 24/7. Call us at 855-MIKE-WINS or (855) 645-3946, contact us via live chat, email us, or request your free case evaluation online