It’s a story you hear all too often on the local news: a pedestrian has been hit by a vehicle. Pedestrian traffic accidents in North Carolina often involve critical and even fatal injuries, so they cannot be dismissed lightly. At our Wilmington personal injury law firm, we strongly support a renewed dedication to pedestrian safety by drivers on the road as well as the foot traffic on the sidewalk.
Who is legally liable for pedestrian accidents?
Under North Carolina law, pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and driveways. However, that does not mean that vehicles are always at fault when a car or bus collides with a pedestrian. It is possible for a pedestrian to be negligent and cause an accident.
Pedestrians have a duty to act in a reasonably cautious manner when in a public space. That doesn’t always happen. Joggers often are distracted by their music and fail to pay attention at crosswalks. Pedestrians who have drunk too much alcohol recklessly enter streets in oncoming traffic. People walking on rural roads fail to take the precaution of wearing bright, reflective clothing.
In addition, pedestrians are obliged to follow all relevant traffic laws. North Carolina pedestrian traffic rules that often are ignored include these:
- When crossing the road at any point other than a crosswalk, a pedestrian must yield right of way to all vehicles.
- When walking along or upon a highway, a pedestrian must yield right of way to all vehicles.
- A pedestrian must keep a lookout for vehicles before and while crossing a highway.
- A pedestrian must walk facing traffic on roads where there is no sidewalk; it is illegal to walk on the road if a sidewalk is available.
- A pedestrian is legally bound to obey traffic control signals, in particular WALK / DON’T WALK indicators at crosswalks.
Why This Matters: North Carolina Contributory Negligence
If a pedestrian has failed in his duty to act in a reasonably cautious manner or has violated traffic rules, then he may be partially responsible for any ensuing accident.
That can be a serious setback. Under North Carolina contributory negligence doctrine, anyone who is at partial fault for an accident can be denied any recover for his own injuries. If you are a pedestrian and are even one percent responsible for an accident, then you may not recover any compensation for that accident.
The lesson for us all is clear: if you are a pedestrian in North Carolina, obey the traffic laws and maintain steady vigilance, both for reasons of safety and to have a sound legal footing if you are an accident victim.
Where to Turn When an Accident Happens
If you have been injured in a North Carolina pedestrian accident, or if your loved one has been killed, you need to seek the advice of legal counsel immediately. At Speaks Law Firm, we know how to investigate the details of your accident case to determine who was at fault and whether a recovery is possible.
You can contact our experienced traffic injury attorneys in Wilmington by calling 910-341-7570 locally or 877-593-4233 toll-free statewide. There is no obligation for your initial consultation, and if you hire us as your legal representatives, then you will owe us no money until we secure you a settlement or verdict.