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Pedestrian Auto Accidents in Philadelphia – When a Pedestrian is at Fault

Pedestrian accidents are very common in Philadelphia. In many instances, fault lies solely with the driver. However, we are seeing an increasing number of pedestrian accidents where the pedestrian bears some portion of fault for having caused the accident. Below is a discussion of two hypothetical situations of pedestrian liability for an auto accident in Philadelphia.

Pedestrian Traffic Signal Was Red

A pedestrian is sending an email while at a busy intersection in downtown Philadelphia. The pedestrian traffic signal is red. Without paying attention, the pedestrian steps off the curb to cross the street and comes into contact with the rear tire of a car that had made a right turn at the intersection. The pedestrian’s foot is crushed under the tire.

Here, the driver is not at fault for the pedestrian’s accident. Rather, the pedestrian is 100% liable. The pedestrian traffic signal was red, but the pedestrian stepped off the curb without looking. Therefore, the pedestrian would not have any valid legal claim against the driver.

Pedestrian Traffic Signal Was Green

Let’s use the same example, but change the facts. The pedestrian traffic signal is green. The pedestrian looks up, sees the green light and begins walking in the crosswalk, while simultaneously looking down at his cell phone. A driver is waiting to make a right turn and strikes the pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Here, the driver is probably 100% at fault for having caused the accident. Since the pedestrian signal was green, the pedestrian had the right of way. The fact that the pedestrian was looking down at his phone when the accident occurred is unlikely to affect his right to make a legal claim against the driver.

Comparative Negligence in PA

In PA auto accident cases including pedestrian accident cases, both the plaintiff and the defendant(s) may be assigned a portion of fault. In other words, the liability of the respective parties is compared and assigned accordingly. Plaintiffs may be assigned some portion of fault and still obtain financial recovery. However, there is a limit. The plaintiff’s negligence cannot exceed 51%. If it does, the plaintiff is barred from recovering altogether. If the plaintiff is assigned a portion of fault, the plaintiff’s ultimate recovery is reduced according to that percentage.

The driver in the second example may claim that the pedestrian could have avoided the accident had he not been looking down at his phone, i.e., the pedestrian was comparatively negligent. Ultimately, a jury might find that the pedestrian bears some liability. For instance, the jury returns a verdict finding the driver 90% liable and the pedestrian 10% liable. If the plaintiff’s damages and injuries are valued at $100,000, then the plaintiff’s recovery is decreased by 10%.

More: Philadelphia Pedestrian-Car Accidents–Can You Sue For Pain & Suffering?

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