Can a Distracted Pedestrian Sue After a Car Accident?

A distracted pedestrian may be able to sue after a car accident, as long as the driver also contributed to the accident.

The Biggest Factor in Whether a Distracted Pedestrian Can Recover Compensation

The most critical factor will be fault — who was at fault and how much fault the court will apportion to each negligent party. The court will consider the accident itself and the circumstances that caused it to determine each party’s liability.

When a Distracted Pedestrian Might Be Entitled to Compensation for Injuries

Georgia follows the modified comparative negligence law, which allows negligent people to recover some damages for their injuries but reduces their compensation in proportion to the amount of their fault. However, it also bars involved parties from recovering compensation depending on their level of fault.

A distracted pedestrian might be entitled to injury compensation as long as another party contributed more fully to the accident than she did.

How Georgia’s Modified Comparative Fault Laws Work in a Distracted Pedestrian Accident

Georgia’s 50 percent bar rule, O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33, prevents anyone who is 50 percent or more at-fault for an accident from recovering compensation. Consider the following examples:

A pedestrian was walking down the street listening to music on his phone. He did not look closely enough before stepping into the roadway to cross the street outside of a crosswalk.

A driver looked down for a second or two to change the radio station. She was not paying enough attention and was unable to avoid hitting the pedestrian. If she had been giving the road her full attention, she could have noticed the walker and stopped in time.

A judge determines the pedestrian was 75 percent at-fault for causing an accident while crossing outside of a crosswalk and walking while distracted. The pedestrian is unable to recover compensation in this example.

Let us change our example: the distracted pedestrian crosses the street, at a crosswalk with the right-of-way. However, because he was distracted, he did not notice a driver already turning right as he stepped into the road. In this case, the judge might assign 70 percent of the blame to the driver and 30 percent to the walker.

In that situation, the modified comparative negligence rule bars the driver from recovering any damages from the walker because her fault was greater than 50 percent. The walker’s negligence was under 50 percent, so he will get some compensation from the driver, but the law will reduce his damages by 30 percent to account for his proportion of fault. If his damages were $10,000, he will receive $7,000 after the 30 percent reduction.

Potentially Liable Parties in a Distracted Pedestrian Accident

The injured walker could potentially sue multiple parties, depending on the facts of the case. These possible defendants include:

  • The driver who contributed to the accident. If the driver should have been able to stop in time to avoid hitting the walker but did not do so, the driver may be at least partially liable for the pedestrian’s injuries.
  • A third-party driver. Accidents are often the result of a series of mistakes. Let us say that Driver A had to swerve to avoid a collision with Driver B, who ran a red light. When Driver A swerved, he hit the pedestrian who could have moved out of the way but was not paying attention. Driver B may share fault for the accident.
  • Local government. If the failure of the local government to maintain safe sidewalks, crosswalks, or roadways was a factor in causing the accident, the local government might face some liability. Be aware, however, that governmental entities can claim sovereign immunity that protects them from certain lawsuits.

When a Driver Might Not Be Liable At All for Hitting a Pedestrian

Drivers are not always at fault when they collide with walkers. If, for example, a distracted pedestrian stepped out into traffic and the driver could not stop in time, even though he was paying attention to the road, traveling at a safe speed, and driving carefully, the driver is not liable. To hold a person liable in an accident, you must show that the person was negligent, and that negligence caused or directly contributed to the crash.

How to Prove a Distracted Pedestrian Deserves Compensation

As with every injury claim, claimants must prove the other party behaved negligently. We will gather evidence to establish:

  • Duty: The driver had a duty to drive safely and protect other road users from undue harm. This means attempting to avoid an accident even when a pedestrian is behaving negligently.
  • Breach of duty: The driver breached that duty. For example, a driver was speeding down the road when a distracted pedestrian stepped into the road outside of a crosswalk. The driver was unable to stop in time and hit the pedestrian. While the pedestrian breached his duty to walk safely and yield to vehicles, the driver could have avoided the accident had he been obeying the speed limit. 
  • Causation: The accident caused the pedestrian to suffer a spinal cord injury.
  • Damages: The pedestrian suffered physical, financial, and/or emotional damages.

Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. For Help After a Distracted Pedestrian Accident

If you have sustained injuries in a wreck with a pedestrian, a car accident lawyer from the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. will help you sort out who is liable for the harm you suffered. We will schedule your free consultation with no obligation to you if you call 404-474-0804. We do not charge legal fees until you get a recovery.