Visitors often come to Las Vegas ready for the vacation of their dreams. They’re prepared to let loose and have fun. Unfortunately, pedestrians walking around the Entertainment Capital of the World aren’t always as careful as they should be. Las Vegas has a high rate of pedestrian accidents. In fact, Clark County reports more than 600 pedestrian accidents each year.
You might assume that the driver is always at fault for a pedestrian accident. Both pedestrians and drivers alike make this assumption. However, it’s not always correct. According to the Nevada Supreme Court in the Anderson v. Baltrusaitis case, the driver, the pedestrian or both may be to blame for an accident that involves a person on foot. Here’s what you should know about when a pedestrian can be at fault for a crash.
Drivers and Pedestrians Have the Same Duty of Care
Both drivers and pedestrians have to exercise reasonable care for the safety of the people around them. Accidents involving pedestrians fall under Nevada’s rules of civil negligence. Both the driver and the pedestrian have an obligation to act reasonably under the circumstances given what they’re doing. If either party fails to act reasonably, they may be liable to the people who get hurt because of their conduct.
Under Nevada law, a person has a duty of care when they’re the one who has the power and ability to take the necessary steps to protect someone else from harm. You don’t have a duty to step in and intervene when someone else puts others at risk, but you have an obligation to avoid acting in a way that’s likely to cause harm. This duty applies to drivers and pedestrians equally.
Ways a Pedestrian Might Cause an Accident
A pedestrian may cause or contribute to an accident in a number of ways including:
- Jaywalking; Pedestrians must either cross as directed in designated crossing zones, or they must cross when they’re sure they won’t impede traffic
- Wearing dark clothing while walking on the road
- Failing to look before they begin to cross the road
- Intentionally or negligently throwing items onto the road or near the lane of travel
- Entering into a crosswalk when the traffic signals indicate to wait
- Walking on a street while intoxicated or trying to cross the street while intoxicated
- Darting into the street to collect an item
- Intentionally trying to distract a driver
For example, one man died in Boulder, Colorado, in a jaywalking incident when he tried to cross the road in dark clothing. The man proceeded in front of oncoming traffic. The driver didn’t see the man because of his dark clothing. Law enforcement investigated and determined that the accident was the pedestrian’s fault.
Traffic Laws That Apply to Pedestrians
Pedestrians have traffic laws to follow just like drivers. Nevada Revised Statute 484B.287 outlines many of the rules of the road that apply to pedestrians.
A person on foot must yield the right of way when they’re crossing a road except when they’re within a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Generally, crossing an intersection diagonally is prohibited.
Violating a Law Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Negligence
When a pedestrian violates a traffic law, it’s substantial evidence that they’re to blame for causing the accident. However, the Nevada Supreme Court in Ashwood v. Clark County said that proof someone violated a law isn’t necessarily definitive evidence of who’s to blame for an accident. If the statute is meant to protect you, your violation of the statute isn’t necessarily proof of your own negligence.
For example, if you’re the pedestrian and you enter an intersection when you don’t have the right of way, you’ve violated Nevada law 484B.287. However, the law is meant to protect pedestrians like you. Since the law is intended to protect you, your violation of the law may not be the end of the inquiry into fault for the accident. Determining responsibility for a crash can be a tricky question. An experienced attorney can help you determine how the facts apply to the law in your case.
In many cases, both the driver and the pedestrian share some blame for an accident. If that’s the case, the person who is less to blame for the accident may still be able to recover for a portion of their losses. It may be the pedestrian who recovers, and it may be the driver. This is called Nevada’s comparative fault law.
It’s up to the jury to decide who bears what percentage of fault for the accident. The assignment of fault determines who can recover for the crash and how much they can recover. Proving fault is critical to winning your case.
How Do You Prove Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?
There are a number of ways to go about proving fault in a pedestrian accident. Witness testimony is crucial. Also, if the crash occurs near a business, there may be cameras rolling. A car may have a data recorder or a dash cam that can provide helpful insights.
You may review the accident scene for skid marks. The location of debris can also provide helpful clues. Finally, looking at the extent and location of the damage can explain what happened to cause the accident.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
In a pedestrian accident case, the outcome of the case may hinge on witness testimony. Your attorney can help you contact witnesses quickly so that they can give a statement while their memory of the accident is still vivid. Your attorney has experience in making contact with witnesses and working with them to secure their cooperation.
Adam S. Kutner & Associates can help you with all aspects of your case. They can help you determine who may have acted negligently, and work with you to build your claim under Nevada law. Working with an attorney is the best way to ensure you can recover compensations for your injuries.
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