Who Is Liable for a Crosswalk Collision?

Car accidents involving pedestrians can be fatal. In any situation where an unprotected individual comes into contact with a moving vehicle, the pedestrian generally possesses the short end of the stick. This comes with moderate to severe injury, especially if an accident occurs at a busy intersection. Each state establishes their own laws regarding pedestrian safety to limit the volume of car accidents involving these unprotected individuals.

Oregon’s Pedestrian Laws

In Oregon, every intersection counts as a crosswalk, even if the city hasn’t designated it with painted lines. In locations where no traffic lights or signals for pedestrians exist, pedestrians still possess the right-of-way. However, at controlled intersections, pedestrians must obey traffic signals and signs. For instance, a pedestrian does not have the right-of-way when faced with a red light or a “do not walk” sign.

Pedestrians do not possess the right-of-way when deviating from designated paths, either. This falls under the pedestrian’s assumption of risk, meaning they assume liability if injury occurs. Assumption of risk also applies to instances of jaywalking, or crossing the street at a point that is not an intersection.

Common Causes of Crosswalk Collisions

Drivers cause crosswalk collisions in several different ways: 

  • Distracted driving (texting, eating, applying make-up, etc.)
  • Failing to yield at a crosswalk
  • Illegally turning into intersections/crosswalks
  • Driving under the influence

In many cases, driver-caused instances of crosswalk collision are based in negligence, in which the driver does not see the pedestrian.

What Damages Can I Recover?

An injured pedestrian can claim damages associated with a collision through an insurance claim, or personal injury claim, in the same way they would file for a car accident. Drivers can claim certain damages.

  • Medical expenses, like emergency services, treatment, and surgery
  • Recurring medical expenses, like prescription medication and physical therapy
  • Individual/family therapy
  • Lost wages, for time spent in recovery
  • Diminished ability to earn, typically associated with chronic disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium, in reference to wrongful death cases

Insurance claims only cover bodily injuries and property damage, and in some cases lost wages. Meanwhile, personal injury claims cover emotional damages as well.

Negligence in Crosswalk Collisions

Oregon operates under comparative fault law. This means that both parties assume responsibility for their respective roles in the collision. For example, a distracted driver might collide with a pedestrian who is walking through an intersection while texting. Both individuals’ distraction contributed to the accident.

Each party involved in a collision possesses a percentage-based fault rating, assigned by either law enforcement, the insurance companies, or the court. In Oregon, only the party who has less than a 50% fault rating can file any sort of claim (insurance or personal injury) requesting compensation for damages.

In most cases, pedestrians find themselves in the position to press charges. However, this is not always the case. If an individual recklessly runs into the street without giving a driver enough time to veer, they could possess more fault than the driver. In this case, they might be liable to pay for the property damage associated with the accident even if they sustained injury. Most insurance companies offer protection to their pedestrian clients. Some offer this protection outright via their auto-insurance policy (in no-fault states) while others cover their pedestrian drivers through bodily injury liability insurance.

The party who possesses the lowest percentage of fault, as long as it is less than 50%, is liable to pay for damages associated with the collision. Though pedestrians do possess right-of-way in ambiguous situations, they don’t always win collision cases if they act recklessly. Remember that everyone on the roadway must obey traffic law, pedestrian or not.