Pedestrian Accidents, Part 1: Who Has the Right-of-Way?

May 3, 2012

Each year an alarming number of people die or are injured as pedestrians in motor vehicle accidents. In fact, for 2009, the last year in which pedestrian accident data was available through the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, over 4,000 pedestrians were killed in automobile accidents and an estimated 59,000 people were injured as pedestrians in traffic crashes across the United States. That same 2009 study indicated that a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and a pedestrian was injured every 9 minutes in traffic accidents.

While the number of pedestrian accidents has been trending downward in the last few years, it remains alarming that so many pedestrians are involved in accidents, and that all too often they are seriously injured or killed. Further, many times alcohol or other drugs are involved in the accident, either if the pedestrian was under the influence or more commonly, the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.

It may also may come as a surprise to many that in Pennsylvania, the right-of-way in these situations is determined by the location of the pedestrian crossing and whether there are traffic or pedestrian control devices on the street. If there are no such traffic control or pedestrian control signals, or if they are not in operation, the driver has the obligation to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is crossing within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection, even if no crosswalk is designated. However, where a pedestrian is crossing a roadway at any other point besides a crosswalk or an intersection, the pedestrian has the duty to yield the right-of-way to the vehicles upon the roadway.

If you are a pedestrian injured in an automobile accident, it is important to speak with an attorney about your accident. Even if a driver wasn’t cited or charged with a traffic offense or crime, it doesn’t mean that you are out of luck. Understanding who had the right-of-way is just the first step to determining whether you can recover for your injuries.

In Part II, you will learn the legal solutions that are available to you if you are involved in a pedestrian accident. Stay tuned for this upcoming post.

Aaron Zeamer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas, including Personal Injury & Wrongful Death.