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Car Accidents

Can a pedestrian be at fault in a car accident?

By September 29, 2021No Comments

While pedestrians most often have the right-of-way in traffic, this does not mean that a pedestrian cannot be considered at-fault for an accident

While a pedestrian may be the most injured in an accident and have the most medical costs, that doesn’t automatically relieve them of all fault. In New Mexico, fault is based on determining comparative fault, meaning that even if someone is found to be just ten percent at-fault, they can’t receive all the compensation for the accident. 

Harmonson Law Firm, with an office in Las Cruces, New Mexico, has years of experience in personal injury law and car accidents. Our legal team can help you navigate the aftermath of a car accident involving a pedestrian.

How to Determine Liability in a Pedestrian Accident

As with any accident in New Mexico, the at-fault party is liable for any damages stemming from the accident. While there are many situations where a driver can be at fault for the accident — such as failing to stop at a marked crosswalk — there are also times when pedestrians can contribute to the accident. 

Frequently, it’s easier on the part of the pedestrian to avoid accidents since they can choose when they will enter a roadway and leave the shoulder or sidewalk.

From a legal standpoint, every person is expected to exercise a reasonable level of care when walking or driving, including following traffic laws and paying appropriate attention to prevent accidents. 

If one person fails to act with reasonable care and causes an accident, they are considered to be at-fault, regardless of whether they were walking or driving at the time of the accident. 

A pedestrian can be responsible for the accident if they fail to use reasonable care. If a pedestrian suddenly ran out into the street when a driver could not avoid hitting them, it could be seen as irresponsible behavior. Doing so will likely mean that the pedestrian would be held at least partially responsible for damages.

Pedestrian Laws in New Mexico

It can be easy to forget that there are traffic laws that apply to pedestrians. As much as we’ve been told growing up to wait at the stoplight and look both ways before crossing, we may fall out of the habit or get used to seeing others breaking these laws as we get older. 

As a reminder, pedestrian laws in New Mexico include:

  • Crosswalks: A pedestrian is legally supposed to use crosswalks, and drivers have to slow down and give the pedestrians the right away. 
  • Pedestrian Control signs: The walk and don’t walk lights on a traffic stop indicates when you can walk. 
  • Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks (jaywalking): Don’t do it! Vehicles have the right-of-way. Pedestrians should use the marked crosswalk areas. 
  • Pedestrians on Roadway: If sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful not to use them. If they are not provided, pedestrians must walk on or along the left side of the roadway or its shoulder-facing traffic from the opposite direction.

Breaking any of the above pedestrian laws could make you at-fault for a car accident. 

There are complications to this, of course, and there are situations in which a pedestrian and a driver could be found to be at-fault. This could be due to the driver’s lack of reasonable care (i.e., they were on the phone and distracted, or they did not try to get the attention of the pedestrian). 

The influence of alcohol could also make the at-fault questionable if the pedestrian is confused or incapacitated.

Contact Harmonson Law Firm Today

Trying to navigate who is at fault in a car accident in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is tricky; in a car accident involving a pedestrian, more factors come into play. Working with an attorney can help you navigate this situation. Contact the Harmonson Law Firm today at (575) 208-2572  to schedule a free consultation.

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