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Who is at fault when a pedestrian is hit outside of a crosswalk?

When an Arizona pedestrian is struck and injured by a car, the driver may be held liable for medical expenses and other damages if the driver is found to have acted negligently. After an accident in which a pedestrian was struck while lawfully crossing the street in a crosswalk, it's almost certain that a court will find that the driver acted negligently. But what if the pedestrian wasn't in a crosswalk? Can the driver still be held liable? These questions raise some complex issues under Arizona law.

Under Arizona law, pedestrians crossing the roadway anywhere other than at a crosswalk must yield the right of way to vehicles. Thus, pedestrians who are struck by a car while walking outside of a crosswalk may have been acting negligently themselves.

This is where things get tricky. The fact that a pedestrian is partly at fault for an accident does not necessarily mean that the injured pedestrian cannot recover compensation from a negligent driver. That's because Arizona law follows a rule known as pure comparative negligence.

Under Arizona's rule, the injured pedestrian can recover compensation from a negligent party even if the pedestrian contributed to the accident, but the recovery is limited by the injured party's proportion of fault. That is, if the court finds that the pedestrian was 25 percent at fault for the accident, the injured pedestrian can recover only 75 percent of the damages. If the pedestrian was 100 percent at fault, the pedestrian can recover nothing.

It's important to remember that for this rule to apply, the driver must have acted negligently. For example, the driver must have been speeding or not watching the road. If the driver was acting as a reasonable person would under the circumstances, the driver was not acting negligently.

This area of the law may at times seem confusing, but it can be very important. Those who are hurt in auto-pedestrian accidents typically suffer serious injuries. Serious injuries often mean huge medical expenses and lost wages, as well as harder-to-define legal damages, such as pain and suffering. A personal injury lawsuit can help the injured or their families to recover compensation for their damages. Arizona attorneys with experience in these cases can help the injured and their families to understand how the law works.

Source: AZLeg.gov, "Crossing at other than crosswalk," accessed Aug. 14, 2014

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