Drivers behind the wheel of a car or truck have a responsibility to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. Pedestrians walking along the road or crossing the street have little to no protection from airbags, seatbelts, or other protective devices, and they rely on drivers’ care and skill to get by safely. If a driver hits a pedestrian, they are usually at fault for the accident, but the law is more complex and does not always blame the driver. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law is a Fayetteville car accident lawyer, and he will explain how fault is decided when a pedestrian is hit by a car in Arkansas.
Pedestrian Crossing Laws in Arkansas
One of the most common times for pedestrians to be hit by a car is when they are in the roadway at a crosswalk. Many crosswalks are marked and state clearly that cars should yield to pedestrians, but pedestrians also cross at unmarked crosswalks and locations other than an intersection. What does the law say about these crossings and whether cars must yield to those pedestrians?
The general law in Arkansas is that drivers must yield to pedestrians whenever they are crossing at an intersection. This means that if the pedestrian is crossing from one corner to another, the drivers must give them the right of way and wait for them to pass. If there are no markings at the intersection, this rule still applies. If a pedestrian crosses somewhere between intersections, e.g., in the middle of a block, they may be in the wrong, but that doesn’t give the driver the right to hit them anyway.
Holding Drivers At-Fault for Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian car accidents usually happen for one of two reasons: the pedestrian quickly jumped out into the street or the driver was driving unsafely. Some accidents are hard to avoid, such as when a child chases a ball into the street or an inattentive pedestrian steps off the curb into traffic. In these kinds of cases, there may have been nothing the driver could have done to avoid the crash, and they should not be held at fault for the accident. However, in cases where the driver was speeding or violating other traffic laws, they should be held accountable for the harm they caused. Many deadly car accidents occur because of these kinds of dangerous driving errors.
Drivers are required to follow the rules of the road at all times. This means driving under the speed limit, using turn signals appropriately, making complete stops at red lights and stop signs, and giving a proper following distance behind other vehicles. Failing to follow these rules can put other drivers and pedestrians at risk.
Any time that a driver fails causes an accident by violating traffic laws or other common-sense rules of the road, they can be held accountable for the injuries the accident causes. A driver who does not use the proper care or skill is “negligent,” and courts allow you to sue for these kinds of injuries. Negligence is a lower legal standard than “recklessness,” which requires that the driver knew their actions were dangerous, and it is a far lower standard than “intentional” or “knowing,” which requires that the driver acted with the purpose of causing harm.
If you can prove that the driver’s actions leading up to the accident were negligent, you can usually hold them at fault for the crash. Negligence can be as simple as any of the following examples:
- Looking down for a few seconds to send a text in violation of Arkansas’ texting and driving laws
- Rolling through a red light to turn right on red
- Failing to look both ways
Shared Fault in Pedestrian Accidents
If you were hit by a car because you entered the street at the wrong location or failed to look both ways, the accident might not be 100% your fault. It would be unjust if the law blocked you from receiving compensation for your injuries because of a minor oversight or poor decision, especially when the harm you suffered could be so severe. Instead, the law may still allow you to take the driver who hit you to court, even if you contributed to causing the accident.
Arkansas works on a “modified comparative fault” system. Some states block your ability to receive damages if you played any part in causing the accident, but Arkansas is more lenient. As long as you are less than 50% at-fault for the crash, the court can still award damages in your case. These damages will be reduced by the amount of fault you shared in causing the accident, but you can still recover a portion of the damages based on the driver’s fault.
For example, if you failed to look both ways and were hit by a driver who ran a red light, the court may say that your failure to look both ways makes you 10% at fault. This means you should still be able to collect 90% of the damages from the dangerous driver.
Call Our Fayetteville Pedestrian Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one was hit by a car in Arkansas, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law. Ken is a Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer that works to help car accident victims get compensation for the injuries and financial harms they suffered because of an accident. To schedule a free consultation with our lawyer, call us today at (479) 316-0438. We can help you understand what your case might be worth and how to seek compensation.