Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents

If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident you understand that one of the most important aspects of your claim is determining who is at fault for causing the accident. In order to obtain the full and fair compensation you deserve for the injuries you sustained in the accident, it is important to work with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney

Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents

The Process of Determining Liability in a Colorado Pedestrian Accident

Determining liability is a process that involves many steps. The liable party will vary on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific circumstances. 

The first step toward determining liability is after the accident initially occurs. Law enforcement will arrive and assess the situation, and will likely issue a citation to the party they believe to be at fault. However, this is not the final say. The cited party may contest the citation and if it becomes an insurance claim or a lawsuit, a judge or jury will need to help determine fault. 

When a judge or jury is determining fault, they will look at factors like:

  • Whether either party was intoxicated – Being intoxicated can cause drivers to be unaware, and pedestrians to act erratically.
  • If either party violated a law – Was the driver speeding or distracted? Was the pedestrian jaywalking? Did they suddenly dart out into traffic? 
  • Witness testimonies – Statements from people who witnessed the accident recounting what they saw occur.
  • Surveillance footage – Video evidence from traffic cameras, nearby businesses, dash cams, and other surveillance.

The Role of Negligence When Proving Liability

When conducting an investigation into who is liable for the accident, you and your lawyer will need to prove negligence. Negligence is a legal concept that involves a failure to exercise the care that a reasonable person would exercise. To prove the at-fault party acted negligently, you will need to prove four elements:

  1. The defendant owed you a legal duty of care
  2. The defendant breached their duty of care
  3. The defendant’s breach of their duty of care directly caused the accident and your injury
  4. You suffered real damages due to the defendant’s breach of their duty of care

Colorado adheres to the modified comparative negligence theory. This means that you may be held partially liable for an accident and still obtain some damages. However, if you are found to be 51 percent or more at fault, you will be unable to obtain any form of compensation. If you are 50 percent or less at fault, you will be able to receive compensation directly proportional to your percentage of fault.

For example, if you are injured in a pedestrian accident because you were jaywalking, but the driver that hit you was found to be intoxicated you may be held partially responsible. Let’s say in this accident you suffered $100,000 worth of damages and are found to be 25% at fault for the accident. You will then receive $75,000 of the $100,000 of damages due to being 25% at fault. 

Who Can Be Held Responsible for the Accident? 

In pedestrian accidents, several parties can potentially be held responsible, depending on the circumstances:

  • The driver – if they were speeding, distracted, intoxicated, or violating traffic laws
  • The pedestrian – if they were jaywalking, crossing against the signal, or otherwise not following pedestrian traffic laws
  • Government entities – if poor road design, inadequate signage, malfunctioning traffic signals, or lack of proper crosswalks contributed to the cause of the accident
  • Vehicle manufacturers – if a vehicle defect contributed to the cause of the accident

It is important to note that in some cases, one or more parties may be held liable. It is important to work with a skilled personal injury attorney who can help you determine which party or parties are responsible.

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