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Understanding Liability for an Auto Accident While a Pedestrian Was J-Walking - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

Posted by | February 05, 2019 | Pedestrian Accident | No Comments

Texas law assigns liability for an accident to whichever party is at fault. However, Texas law also recognizes that sometimes pedestrians, as well as motorists, can be at fault, which means that both share responsibility for the crash. This is called “comparative negligence,” and it often applies when a pedestrian is jaywalking.

To determine liability, we need to assess each party’s actions leading up to the crash. If you need help with this task, please contact an Austin pedestrian accident attorney right away for a free consultation.

Was the Pedestrian at Fault?

Fault is also called negligence, which is the legal term for failing to use sufficient care. If you were negligent, and you injured someone, then you need to pay them compensation.

Here, a pedestrian who is illegally crossing the street has certainly been negligent. Whenever someone breaks the law, chances are very high that they were not careful. This means the pedestrian is at fault for the collision and would need to pay compensation to the motorist who was also involved.

But was the Motorist also Negligent?

As mentioned above, Texas law recognizes that both parties can be negligent. Just because the pedestrian was negligent does not mean that the motorist is automatically let off the hook.

Instead, we need to analyze why the motorist hit the pedestrian. For example:

  • Was the motorist reading a text message or email when he should have had his eyes on the road?
  • Was the motorist speeding at the time of the crash?
  • Did the motorist see the pedestrian but refuse to swerve or brake?
  • Was the motorist operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the collision?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the motorist might also be at fault for the crash. In other words, both the motorist and the pedestrian share liability.

However, in some cases, the motorist might not be at fault. For example, the pedestrian might have stepped right out in front of the vehicle, robbing the driver of any time to swerve or hit the brakes.

Comparing Fault

Texas law will allow an injured victim to receive compensation, but they cannot have been more negligent than other parties. In other words, a victim can be 50% responsible for a crash but not more. If they were 51% or more responsible, then Texas law bars their recovery of compensation.

Calculating Compensation

Under Texas’ comparative fault rules, the amount a negligent victim can receive in compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

Let’s say a motorist reading a text message hits a pedestrian who is jaywalking. The pedestrian suffers $20,000 in damages, but the jury believes she is 50% at fault for her injuries. In this case, she can only receive half of her damages, or $10,000. If she were only 30% responsible, then she could receive $14,000. And if she were 60% responsible, she could not receive anything.

Contact an Austin Car Accident Lawyer

Jaywalking pedestrians are not relieved of legal liability for an accident, but Texas law allows them to receive compensation. If you have a question about a car crash, contact an experienced Austin pedestrian accident lawyer today.

Robert Littlefield Buford III, attorney at law, has helped countless injured pedestrians and motorists. You can schedule a time to meet with him by calling 512-456-9126 or sending an online message.