When Are Pedestrians Liable for a Car Accident?

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Fault is never assumed in a car accident case – even a crash that causes more harm to one victim than the other. Instead, each case is carefully assessed and investigated by an insurance company for signs and evidence to prove fault. If you are involved in a car accident with a pedestrian in Nebraska, it is possible that the pedestrian bears or shares liability (financial responsibility) for the crash. Understanding Nebraska’s pedestrian liability laws can help you protect your right to recover financially.

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way?

No. Pedestrians do not always or automatically have the right-of-way in Omaha or anywhere else in Nebraska. Instead, pedestrians must know and obey the traffic laws that apply to them just like other roadway users. The right-of-way is the legal right to cross a roadway. In Nebraska, pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks and intersections. However, if the intersection has a traffic control signal, the pedestrian may only cross when given the signal to do so.

It is against the law for a pedestrian to step away from the safety of a curb and into a road if an oncoming vehicle is approaching fast or close enough as to constitute an immediate hazard. Pedestrians also cannot walk in the road or on the side of the road if there is a sidewalk or pedestrian passageway available. Although jaywalking (crossing the road at a place other than a crosswalk or intersection) is not against the law in Nebraska, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicle traffic when doing so.

How to Prove Liability in a Pedestrian Accident Case

If a pedestrian breaks any of Nebraska’s pedestrian laws or otherwise fails to walk or jog with reasonable prudence, the pedestrian could bear some or all of the fault for a subsequent car accident. If a pedestrian runs into oncoming traffic without looking, for example, a driver that strikes the pedestrian may not be legally responsible, even if the pedestrian gets seriously hurt. Liability is determined based on the individual facts of each case.

Evidence that may be available to prove that a pedestrian is at fault for a car accident includes: 

  • Signed eyewitness statements
  • Photographs and surveillance footage
  • Police accident report
  • Type and location of vehicle damage
  • Accident reconstruction
  • Expert testimony

An attorney can help preserve and collect evidence of fault after a pedestrian accident. A lawyer will have connections to qualified experts and crash reconstruction professionals, for example, as well as car accident investigators. With the evidence gathered, an attorney can piece together a case that shows that the pedestrian illegally crossed the road, was not paying attention, stepped out into oncoming traffic, or otherwise caused or contributed to the collision.

Shared Fault in a Pedestrian Accident Case

If a pedestrian is at fault for a car accident, his or her insurance company may be responsible for paying for related losses, including medical bills and property repairs. In most cases, a car insurance company will cover these accidents, even though the pedestrian was not operating a motor vehicle at the time of the crash. The pedestrian’s insurance company, however, may try to avoid bearing full liability for the accident by placing a portion of the blame with the motor vehicle driver.

In Nebraska, it is possible for a pedestrian and a driver to share fault for a pedestrian collision. Nebraska uses a comparative fault law in these cases, which allows a plaintiff to recover partial financial compensation even when bearing a percentage of the blame for the wreck. If the courts allocate a percentage of fault to both the driver and the pedestrian, the amount that the pedestrian can seek in financial damages will be diminished by his or her degree of liability. This means that the driver’s liability for the crash will also be reduced. 

For more information about liability for a vehicle-pedestrian collision, speak to an Omaha car accident lawyer.