Walking or riding your bike in Jefferson City or Columbia is a great way to get exercise and reduce your carbon footprint when commuting. However, the chances of getting seriously injured if you are hit by a car are much higher if you are on foot than in a vehicle. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian accidents have increased more than 50% since 2009 and account for nearly 20% of all traffic fatalities. If you have been struck by a car while walking or riding your bike, you may be eligible for compensation by filing an auto-pedestrian accident claim against the at-fault driver. The knowledgeable mid-Missouri pedestrian accident lawyers at Steelman Gaunt Crowley can help you learn more about your legal options. Contact us at (573) 341-8336 for a free case review.
Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws in Missouri
Everyone in Missouri must follow Title XIX of the Missouri State Statutes regarding driving, particularly certain right-of-way laws, including pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. In Missouri, bicycle riders are considered pedestrians for the purposes of determining fault in an auto-pedestrian accident and determining who has the right-of-way in traffic.
Right of Way in a Crosswalk
While crosswalks are intended to provide pedestrians with a safe place to cross, the presence of a crosswalk does not guarantee pedestrian right-of-way. If a pedestrian is crossing the road, they can only do so when traffic signals indicate, per Title XIX Chapter 300 § 375. If there is a red light or a Do Not Walk sign flashing, then pedestrians yield to the opposite flow of traffic.
When traffic signals indicate pedestrians can cross, or when a pedestrian is already in a crosswalk, drivers must slow down or come to a complete stop to allow the pedestrian to finish crossing. However, pedestrians must wait for cars to stop before they step into the crosswalk, even if the pedestrian has the right of way. Cars behind those stopped for pedestrians in a crosswalk are not permitted to drive around the stopped car to pass. If a pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk and a car hits them, the driver is typically the one at fault for the accident.
Jaywalking refers to crossing the street outside the designated crosswalks or intersection points. Title XIX Chapter 300 § 405 makes it illegal to jaywalk. Jaywalking is also dangerous. Although a pedestrian has a reasonable expectation that a car will stop at a crosswalk, there is no reasonable expectation that cars will stop if a pedestrian walks into the middle of the road.
Even if a pedestrian is crossing illegally, that does not mean a driver who strikes them is automatically absolved of blame for causing injury. Drivers still must yield to people crossing the road.
When Is a Pedestrian Accident Not the Driver’s Fault in Missouri?
In most cases, an auto-pedestrian accident is the driver’s fault, but there are situations in which the pedestrian could have most of the blame. In those cases, the driver would not be liable for the pedestrian’s injuries.
If the pedestrian does not follow Missouri pedestrian laws, they could share some blame for the accident. While there is no law against texting and walking, a pedestrian who is engrossed in their phone or device and steps into traffic could be at fault for the collision and their injuries. Likewise, although there are no Missouri laws against public intoxication, a pedestrian who has been drinking could be liable for an accident if they walk into the road.
What if a Pedestrian Walks or Jumps in Front of My Car?
If a pedestrian deliberately jumps in front of a moving car, then it is unlikely that a judge will rule the driver liable for the collision. However, what if someone pushes another person into traffic? In that case, the driver may not have time to react and avoid them. In this scenario, the blame for any injury to that pedestrian would lie with the person who pushed them.
These can be complex and unusual cases. Whether you are the injured pedestrian or the driver who accidentally hit someone who jumped into traffic or was pushed, it is important to consider hiring legal representation to help defend your rights and legal interests.
Determining Liability in a Pedestrian Accident
If you have been struck by a car while riding your bike or walking, you may be eligible for compensatory damages to cover your medical care, property damage, missed wages from work, and non-economic losses like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of companionship or consortium. Although the driver’s insurance company may contact you after the accident and offer a settlement, you may want to discuss your case with an experienced auto-pedestrian accident lawyer from Steelman Gaunt Crowley to be sure you do not settle for less than you may be eligible for.
First, you must prove that the driver was responsible for the accident and your injuries. Proving liability means proving negligence, which means:
- The driver had a duty of care to yield to a pedestrian crossing the road
- The driver breached this duty of care by hitting you
- The impact caused injury
- You suffered financial loss because of your injuries
An attorney may be able to collect evidence that proves each of the four points of driver negligence. Common examples include dash cam footage, police reports, and eyewitness testimony. If you noted that the driver was using their cell phone while driving, a lawyer may be able to obtain a copy of their phone information to prove they were negligent.
How Can a Lawyer Help After an Auto-Pedestrian Accident?
If you have been harmed in a pedestrian accident, an attorney may be able to help you get a larger settlement than you may achieve on your own. A lawyer might be able to:
- Gather evidence proving the driver was to blame
- File all legal documents on time and within the limits prescribed by Missouri Title XXXV Chapter 516 § 120
- Represent your interests in settlement negotiations with the driver’s insurance company
- Litigate your case in court if you cannot reach a settlement agreement
Experienced Mid-Missouri Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Can Help
Have you been hit by a car while walking or riding your bike? Do you need legal representation after a pedestrian accident? We may be able to help. The experienced car accident attorneys with Steelman Gaunt Crowley can help you understand your legal options for getting financial compensation for your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering after an auto-pedestrian accident. Call (573) 341-8336 to schedule your free consultation.