Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Liability – Potential Issues

The Scholle Law Firm discusses the liability analysis required for every Atlanta pedestrian accident case. In this content, the Scholle injury lawyers discuss accidents involving pedestrians and the important considerations required in understanding how injury attorneys, insurance companies and Georgia law comes down on this very specific type of injury case.  

While liability is important in every injury case, this content also serves as a reminder to pedestrians and drivers alike to navigate our Georgia roads carefully because they can be very dangerous. If you or a loved one has a question about an Atlanta pedestrian accident or any other Georgia related injury case, contact us for a free case evaluation. We answer our phones 24/7. We are here to help!

What is a Pedestrian?

A pedestrian is a generally a person that is traveling on foot or under their own power without the use of an accompanying vehicle.  Examples of pedestrians include joggers/runners getting their exercise, downtown Atlanta commuters walking on the sidewalks to their offices, and people navigating intersections and crosswalks via the Georgia streets and roads without the use of a car, truck, motorcycle, scooter or bicycle.  Additionally, a pedestrian would also include someone that is traveling on sidewalks or streets in a wheelchair. The law recognizes pedestrians different from cars. Without specific designations and rules for cars and pedestrians there could be absolute chaos on our Georgia roads.

Why Are Pedestrian Accidents Dangerous? 

 Pedestrians do not have the same protections as car, truck, and SUV operators. Drivers have seatbelts, airbags and find themselves enclosed inside of a sturdy environment. Even a small “bump” from a car or truck can be very dangerous for a pedestrian.  Outside of motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents often involve some of the most serious accidents and injuries imaginable.  For instance, pedestrian accident injuries often include soft tissue injuries, broken bones requiring surgeries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis and other catastrophic and disfiguring injuries. Unfortunately, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia reported 236 pedestrian fatalities in 2019.

Pedestrian Accidents Are Complex

Like most other personal injury cases in Georgia, an Atlanta pedestrian accident case (or other Georgia city or town for that matter) can be very complex.  These cases generally involve serious injuries. Cases involving pedestrians always include concerns over medical bills, lost wages and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. No two accident cases are the same and this goes for pedestrian accidents as well. Because these cases are complex and all different, insurance companies are notorious for fighting with pedestrian accident victims about liability and the value of their cases. Resolving one of these cases against a large insurance company is no small task and we encourage anyone with a pedestrian or any other accident case to contact an experienced attorney for assistance.  

Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Case Liability

A pedestrian hit by a car does not automatically have a strong case just because they were a pedestrian. Before even considering damages or the potential for compensation, the issue of liability must be determined.  Again, the accident happening is not enough to have a successful (pedestrian accidents are not strict liability cases), you will have to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault party or parties that were potentially responsible. 

Pedestrians Must Follow Rules Also

Many people remember pedestrian related driving rules from their driver’s education classes.  Some people unfortunately think that the pedestrians always have an absolute right of way. They believe that this absolves them of any liability or responsibility.  This is incorrect! It is of course necessary to yield to pedestrians on many occasions; however, the law requres pedestrians arto follow traffic signals and laws. For instance, it would not be lawful for a pedestrian to run out into heavy traffic that is moving under a steady green light.  If that happened and the pedestrian was injured, the pedestrian would probably not have a very strong injury case.   They could also be cited or ticketed depending on the traffic laws.

Damages Versus Negligence

It can be a lot easier in proving the existence of a pedestrian’s injuries in comparison to the challenge of proving that someone else’s negligence caused the pedestrian’s injuries.  But, to have a successful pedestrian injury insurance claim or lawsuit, proving the causal link between the defendant’s (driver’s) negligence and the plaintiff’s (pedestrian’s) injuries is required.

Defining Negligence

Negligence is a culmination of duty, breach, causation, and damages.  The analysis of negligence in a pedestrian accident starts with showing that the driver owed someone a duty. Next, a plaintiff must prove their damages resulted directly because of a breach of the duty.   All drivers owe a duty of reasonable care. They owe it to other drivers and pedestrians and anyone else that could be harmed by their actions. For instance, if a defendant driver failed to yield to a pedestrian with a right of way, it could be argued that conduct was a breach of duty.

Making the Case

Evidence such as witness statements or camera footage could be used to prove that a defendant driver breached their duty of care that was owed.  The medical records and plaintiff pedestrian’s own testimony are proof of the plaintiff’s damages. The same is true for proving direct causation. While having a defendant driver receive a citation is helpful, a ticket for failing to yield or some other moving violation does not make for a cut and dry or “slam dunk” case.  At the same time, a driver not receiving a ticket or citation does not mean that a pedestrian does not have a strong injury case. 

As always it is always a best practice to have an experienced personal injury lawyer evaluate the case. Do this before coming to any conclusions on your own or speaking to an insurance company.

A Pedestrian’s Liability

As previously mentioned, it is not impossible for a pedestrian to share some of the liability in their own accident or injury case. In Georgia it is still possible for a plaintiff to have a successful or winning personal injury case even if they were also partly to blame for causing their own accident.  This is because Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state. Modified comparative negligence means that a jury or fact finder would have an opportunity to assign fault or liability to some or all the parties involved in an accident.  A plaintiff’s recovery is attainable as lost as the plaintiff is no more than 49% at fault.

Modified Comparative Fault and Damages

A plaintiff’s percentage of liability must be calculated against their damages.  For instance, a driver hits a pedestrian that walks across a road at night outside of a crosswalk. The pedestrian is hurt, and his/her compensable damages were $100,000 for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.  If the pedestrian was found to have been 20% liable, then the pedestrian’s damages would be reduced. A reduction by 20% equates to final damages of $80,000.  However, if the pedestrian had been assessed with more than 49 percent of the liability, he/she would have gotten nothing.

Claims and Lawsuits

Most personal injury cases initiate as claims against an at-fault party’s insurance company.  It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster or an attorney for an insurance company to make their own determination of comparative fault.  They will use this as a tactic to try to reduce their potential liability exposure and to resolve the claim for as little as possible.  Even if an insurance company makes this determination, that does not mean that the plaintiff or their lawyer must accept it.  The ultimate responsibility of assigning liability in a personal injury lawsuit is usually a jury.  If an insurance claim cannot settle amongst the parties then a lawsuit may be filed.   

Insurance Company Tricks

When an adverse insurance company tries to argue negligence on the part of the pedestrian, they may do so with arguments that that pedestrian failed to yield, disobeyed the crosswalk light, walked across without using the crosswalk or was intoxicated, distracted on their phone, or intoxicated. Just because an insurance company makes those types of claims does not make them so.  An experienced attorney will have their opportunity to investigate the accident and to make their counter arguments.  Additionally, the plaintiff’s lawyer will likely have their own allegations against the insured driver. The insurance company will also have to answer address those allegations.  The bottom line is that there is a complex and specific process for pedestrian related accident cases. Injury victims have rights but should expect a challenge in working against the insurance company.

Speak to an Attorney! Call Scholle Law for a Free Case Evaluation

Scholle Law’s pedestrian accident injury lawyers are here to help! The Scholle Law Firm has the experience and resources to investigate motor vehicle injury cases involving pedestrians. No two cases are the same and none are ever cut and dry. Besides the issues of getting the necessary evidence to prove the other driver’s liability, there is still the issue of fighting with the insurance company. Do not expect them to “go easy on you” or give you what you deserve.  That is not their job.  However, it is our job to help injured Georgians fight for the compensation they deserve. We have been doing it for over 2 decades. We are here, so you do not have to fight on your own. Call us today!  

To set up a meeting, call us today at (678) 921-3320 or contact us online

Contact Scholle Law Firm today for a free consultation for your injury case. Our attorneys are here to answer your questions and listen to your concerns. Call now to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Atlanta pedestrian accident attorneys. We look forward to hearing from you.