It is a common misconception to assume that pedestrians always have the right of way in Texas. Motor vehicles cause much more damage to pedestrians than vice versa in an accident. This fact leads many to believe that motorists must always yield right of way to people walking on crosswalks and in the road.
While motorists do owe certain duties of care to pedestrians, this doesn’t bar pedestrians from liability in every accident. Here’s when a pedestrian could be at fault in a collision in Texas.
The Pedestrian Was Jaywalking
“Jaywalking,” or crossing a street at a place other than an intersection or marked crosswalk, is a dangerous and illegal practice in Texas. Pedestrians may not cross in the middle of the street – outside of a crosswalk – and expect vehicles to yield the right of way. Doing so can end in pedestrian liability for a collision. Drivers have a duty to avoid hitting jaywalking pedestrians when possible – but the law may not assign them fault in the event that they cannot stop fast enough to avoid hitting a jaywalker. The majority fault may lie with the pedestrian for making an illegal crossing.
The Pedestrian Broke the Rules
Cities in Texas that experience high volumes of pedestrians have strict rules in place that they must follow. These rules are for the safety of those walking the streets amidst dangerous vehicles and bicyclists. It is up to each pedestrian to obey these rules to help prevent collisions. Such rules include waiting for the “Walk” command at crosswalks, avoiding areas such as bridges and highways the law prohibits pedestrian access, and not walking the streets while intoxicated.
Breaking these rules, resulting in a pedestrian accident, could lead to pedestrian liability for negligence per se. Negligence per se refers to a party’s assumed liability for damages when he/she broke the law and caused the accident. A pedestrian who breaks the law may be fully or partially at fault for a subsequent collision without the other party needing to prove negligence. The identity of “pedestrian” in Texas doesn’t give a person free rein to walk the streets as he/she desires.
The Pedestrian Wasn’t Paying Attention
A common defense in pedestrian collision cases is that the person walking was not paying attention to where he or she was going and therefore contributed to the crash. Many people text and walk-in Texas cities, increasing the risk of accidents. If a reasonable and prudent pedestrian would have been able to avoid the hazard by paying proper attention to the task of walking, the courts may rule the injured pedestrian is at least partially responsible for the crash.
In Texas, an injured party is still eligible for recovery if he or she is partially at fault for the accident. The state’s modified comparative fault laws allow a party to take home a reduced compensation award if the courts find him/her to be a percentage at fault. For example, say a vehicle struck a pedestrian while in a crosswalk. The pedestrian was looking down at a phone and didn’t realize that a vehicle was coming. The driver was speeding and couldn’t stop in time. If the courts assign the pedestrian 20% fault, he/she would receive 80% of the total award amount.