BOSTON – LEGAL – Although motorists have a duty of care to behave as any “reasonable person” would when pedestrians are around, those pedestrians do have some responsibility for ensuring their own safety. When pedestrians are hurt on an interstate highway, determining who is at fault and negligent can become more complex for a Boston car accident lawyer. If a pedestrian on an interstate conducted themselves without the appropriate level of care and were injured, they might be at fault for their injuries, or at least may bear something called “contributory negligence.”
For car accidents, when a pedestrian is hit, the negligence typically rests with the driver. Under certain circumstances, when a person is hit by an automobile they can file a legal claim against the driver using the theory of negligence. A negligence claim, however, requires that a pedestrian prove that the driver was at fault because they either did something to cause the accident or failed to do something that could have prevented it. That “breach of duty” also has to be the direct reason that the pedestrian sustained their injury. If the driver had not breached their duty, then the victim would have never been injured.
It is also possible for a pedestrian to file a claim against any federal or state agency responsible for maintaining the roadways. If something like the highway design, repairs or maintenance, or construction is responsible for a pedestrian’s injury, then the agency responsible for the road might be held liable. If it was foreseeable that the work being done could result in someone getting injured, then the federal or state agency can be held liable for a pedestrian’s injury. That applies even though pedestrians are typically not permitted to walk on interstate highways.
Why would a pedestrian be on a highway?
Many are surprised to find out that people are hit on the interstate quite frequently. It’s more common than you would think: more than 10% of all the pedestrian accidents that lead to fatalities occur on major interstates across America. There are several reasons why a pedestrian might be on the highway, even though it is an extremely risky place to walk.
Crossing or entering the highway
The most common reason that people are on the interstate is that they are crossing over it to get to the other side. Due to the high speed that cars are traveling on highways, making it from one end to another is often not properly gauged by the pedestrian, which can lead to them getting hit. Also, as many drivers are not expecting someone to be walking on the road, they may also fail to see a pedestrian until it is too late to stop.
Walking on an interstate after dark
Over 90% of all collisions that involve pedestrians happen once the sun sets and it is too dark to see someone on the roadway. The reasons why someone would be walking after dark are things like being drunk or even experiencing suicidal behavior.
Standing or walking on the shoulder
A small percentage of pedestrians who are hit on the interstate are walking on the shoulder, which is illegal. Most of the cases where a pedestrian is hit while on the shoulder are due to either distracted or drunk drivers.
When you have a flat tire or your car stops working while you are on the interstate, some pedestrians try to change their tire or fix their car. If the car is in the lane, the pedestrian might also be trying to push the car out of the way of traffic.
Helping out with a previous crash
Pedestrians who have already been injured in a crash may be on the road while the previous crash is being cleared up. If the crash was forceful enough, they might have been thrown from the car. After an accident, pedestrians will often be on the scene exchanging information, waiting for help, or inspecting the damage sustained.
When a pedestrian is hit on the interstate, it can be more difficult for them to claim that they were taking reasonable care to ensure their own safety. Unlike other types of pedestrian accidents, the onus weighs more heavily on pedestrians on the interstate because walking on them is illegal, to begin with. That puts the driver at an advantage not to be held liable for injuries.