Can a Pedestrian Be Liable for Causing a Car Accident?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on February 26, 2021 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 24, 2024

woman texting while crossing streetIn most accidents where a pedestrian is struck by another vehicle, it is nearly always the driver who is liable for the damages. But are there any circumstances where a pedestrian could be at least partially at-fault for causing a car crash?

PKSD explains some common accident scenarios where pedestrians may be at-fault, how Wisconsin defines a pedestrian’s rights and responsibilities and how to prove a pedestrian may be liable for a car crash.

If you are injured in a collision due to the negligence of another party, contact our experienced Milwaukee car accident lawyers at 414-333-3333 to learn how we may be able to help. Find out if you have a case at no cost or obligation to you.

When Can a Pedestrian Be Liable for Being Hit By a Car?

There are many situations where a pedestrian may be found at least partially to blame for a car crash.

Here are a few of the most common scenarios:

Darting into the Street Without Warning or Regard for Traffic

If a pedestrian suddenly enters into a street without checking for traffic, a driver may not be able to avoid hitting him or her. Even when there is a crosswalk, pedestrians should first check for oncoming vehicles and determine whether they are far enough away to stop in time.

Some examples of when a pedestrian may cause an accident in this way include:

  • Dashing into the street after an object – such as a ball – or another person
  • Darting out in between cars or jaywalking without looking
  • Reading text messages while walking into the street at a crosswalk or traffic signal
  • Walking into the street while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Purposely or recklessly causing endangerment by walking into traffic

Ignoring a Pedestrian “No Walk” Signal

Pedestrians struck by a car while crossing a road with a “no walk” traffic signal may share responsibility for causing a car crash. These signals are in place to help reduce the likelihood of a pedestrian versus motor vehicle accident.

Crossing at an Intersection Where There is No Crosswalk

While vehicles are required to yield to a pedestrian, it may be difficult to see someone walking across a street, especially a busy or poorly lit roadway, where there is no crosswalk. A pedestrian could share partial or full liability for crossing a street without first checking for oncoming traffic.

Walking on Highways or Other Areas Where Pedestrians Are Prohibited

A pedestrian should not attempt to walk across a busy highway or interstate. Between the speed and volume of oncoming traffic, it can lead to a crash involving him or her, as well as one or more vehicles.

Wisconsin Laws Regarding a Pedestrian’s Duty of Care

Both pedestrians and drivers have certain responsibilities in Wisconsin – called a duty of care. If a pedestrian darts out into the street while reading a message on his or her phone, an oncoming vehicle may not have enough time to stop.

Driver Responsibility

Drivers owe a duty of care to stop and yield to a pedestrian crossing the street. This law applies whether or not the pedestrian is crossing at a crosswalk or unmarked intersection.

Pedestrian Duty of Care

As stated, pedestrians have the right-of-way and drivers are required to yield to a pedestrian who has entered the roadway.

Often, pedestrians mistakenly think this means that they can just walk out into traffic – especially at crosswalks – without first checking for traffic and just expect cars to stop.

However, pedestrians also have a duty of care to avoid behaving in a way that would cause harm to themselves or others. For a pedestrian, this means checking for traffic, making sure they are seen before crossing and that there is enough time for a vehicle to stop.

This duty of care applies at:

  • Crosswalks
  • Pedestrian traffic signals
  • Entering or crossing a driveway
  • Walking across a commercial entrance or exit
  • Crossing or entering an alley
  • Unmarked intersections
  • Any other time a pedestrian is planning to cross a street

Pedestrians must consider that cars need more time to stop, especially in bad weather. Additionally, it may be harder for a driver to see a pedestrian – such as at night.

Proving Pedestrian Liability for a Crash

If a pedestrian is found at-fault for an accident involving a motor vehicle, he or she may not be able to recover any damages, depending on the percent of liability.

Additionally, even if a pedestrian caused the accident that led to your injuries, you and your attorney will still have to prove there was negligence by establishing:

  • The pedestrian owed you a duty of care
  • The duty of care was breached
  • The breach caused the accident that led to your injuries
  • You suffered tangible losses as a result – such as medical costs, lost wages or property damage

What Happens if the Pedestrian and Driver Share Fault?

In a situation where both parties share fault, the accident investigator will assign each party a percentage at fault. Under Wisconsin’s comparative negligence system, a party may pursue compensation for damages as long as they are not more than 50 percent liable for the accident.

However, in a situation where you are 51 percent or more at-fault for a car crash, you will not be allowed to pursue a claim and will not be able to recover compensation for your damages.

Our Firm is Ready to Protect Your Legal Rights

Our experienced lawyers are prepared to help you after suffering an injury caused by another’s negligence. If you were a driver injured in an accident because of a pedestrian’s negligent actions, proving liability and recovering compensation could be difficult. This situation is best handled by a knowledgeable attorney who knows how to build a strong case on your behalf.

Learn more by calling our law offices and scheduling a consultation with one of our licensed attorneys. There is no cost or obligation involved, so no risk to you.

Call Today. Millions Recovered. 414-333-3333

Back to top