Skip to Content

Legal Rights of Injured Pedestrians

October 18, 2023 Personal Injury

When people are struck by a vehicle while walking on or near a road, they are several legal issues that frequently arise. In pedestrian accident cases, the injuries are usually severe and the legal issues can be complicated. In this blog post, we will cover several legal principles that are involved in an accident involving injured pedestrians.

Contributory Negligence of Injured Pedestrian

If the pedestrian accident occurred in Alabama, then the injured pedestrian must be aware of Alabama’s laws about contributory negligence.  In short, contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that bars an injured person from recovering compensation if the injured personal negligently contributed to the accident. For a thorough explanation of contributory negligence, read our blog post Beware the Contributory Negligence Rule.

There are several ways in which an injured pedestrian could be considered contributorily negligent.  For example, Alabama law requires pedestrians to cross roadways only within crosswalks.  If a pedestrian is injured while walking across a street but not within a crosswalk, a judge or jury may find that the injured pedestrian is barred from recovering compensation.

Alabama law also requires pedestrians who are walking on along the street to use a sidewalk if available.  If there is no sidewalk available, a pedestrian is required to walk in the opposite direction of traffic travel.  In other words, the pedestrian should not walk in the right lane in the same direction as vehicles.

It is important to keep in mind the contributory negligence doctrine when discussing your claim with the insurance company.  Every insurance company representative is trained to find ways to deny your claim.  In cases involving injured pedestrians, the insurance representative will hope to find an argument that you negligently contributed to the incident.

Even if the injured pedestrian is culpable of contributory negligence, there are still two ways to win a personal injury claim against the vehicle driver.

The Last Clear Chance to Avoid the Pedestrian

Even if the pedestrian was negligent, he or she can still win a personal injury claim if the vehicle driver had the “last clear chance” to avoid the accident.  The elements of proof of the last clear chance rule are found in Zaharavich v. Clingerman, 529 So. 2d 978 (Ala. 1988).  If the pedestrian can prove these five things, the pedestrian can still win an injury claim:

  1. The pedestrian was in a position of peril;
  2. The vehicle driver had knowledge of the pedestrian’s perilous position;
  3. Armed with such knowledge, the vehicle driver failed to use reasonable care to avoid the accident;
  4. The use of reasonable care by the driver would have avoided the accident; and
  5. The pedestrian was injured as a result.

Proving the driver had the last clear chance can be difficult because the pedestrian would have to prove that the driver “had knowledge” that the pedestrian was in a perilous position.  The pedestrian would have to obtain proof through witness testimony or some other evidence that the driver knew the pedestrian was in danger and did not act reasonably to avoid the incident.

Wantonness Causing Harm to Injured Pedestrians

Just like the last clear chance rule, wantonness is another exception that allows an injured pedestrian to win a claim despite the fact the pedestrian was contributorily negligent. But what is wantonness?

“Wantonness is the conscious or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others.”

The most common example of wantonness is when a vehicle driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  For example, if a pedestrian was jaywalking and was hit by someone under the influence of alcohol, then the pedestrian can still win a personal injury claim against the driver.  If the driver was wanton, then the contributory negligence defense can be overcome.

We Help Injured Pedestrians Recover Compensation

Reach out to us today if you or a family member were injured as a pedestrian.  These cases involve unique legal issues and are best handled by seasoned personal injury lawyers. Let us get to work for you today.