What Are the Rights and Responsibilities of a Pedestrian in North Carolina?

While motorists owe a duty of care to pedestrians on and near roadways, pedestrians must also do their part to prevent accidents. Although pedestrians have the right of way in many situations, such as when they are using marked crosswalks, crossing the road at intersections not controlled by traffic signals, and walking across driveways, there are situations where they must yield to vehicles. The responsibilities of a pedestrian under North Carolina law include the following:

  • Obey all pedestrian traffic signals.
  • Yield to oncoming vehicles if crossing at a location other than a crosswalk.
  • Look carefully in both directions before crossing the street.
  • Use the sidewalk if one is available. If there is no sidewalk, travel facing traffic and stay as far left as possible.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings, particularly in parking lots and near bus stops.
  • If walking at night, wear reflective clothing or carry a light to make yourself visible to drivers.

While these actions can help to keep a pedestrian safe, even the most conscientious walker may be injured in an accident if a driver does not pay attention and acts negligently. A knowledgeable Charlotte pedestrian accident attorney can explain when a pedestrian can and cannot be held responsible for a car accident and what you can do if you’ve been hit by a driver while walking.

When Might a Pedestrian Be Found at Fault for a Car Accident?

Generally, a driver who strikes a pedestrian with their vehicle will be considered at fault for the accident. However, there are situations where a pedestrian’s actions can cause them to be held partially liable for their accident. If a pedestrian does not uphold their obligations to act safely and reasonably to protect themselves and others on the road, they could be found at fault for the car accident.

Negligent actions that can result in a pedestrian sharing blame for a crash include the following:

  • Running into the roadway without checking for oncoming traffic.
  • Being distracted by headphones, cellphones, or other technology.
  • Crossing the road illegally (jaywalking).
  • Not exiting the street in a timely fashion, or playing, standing, or lying on the road.
  • Crossing the road while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Failing to use lights, reflective materials, or bright colors to make themselves visible to drivers at night.
  • Not utilizing a sidewalk when one is present.
  • Failing to exercise caution when walking in high-traffic areas, such as parking lots.
  • Not yielding the right of way to a vehicle when appropriate.

How Does Contributory Negligence Impact Your Ability to Recover Compensation for a North Carolina Accident?

North Carolina is one of the few states that follows the rule of contributory negligence in personal injury cases. Under contributory negligence, the victim of an injury cannot seek damages from the at-fault party if they share in even 1% of the fault for the accident. This system is very harsh on victims and can make it challenging for them to recover compensation for their damages. In nearly all cases, the driver and their insurer will claim that the pedestrian acted in a manner that places them partially or fully at fault for the crash.

While the state’s contributory negligence law is strict, there are some exceptions that may be applied to your claim, such as the last clear chance doctrine. This doctrine allows the court to consider which party had the last opportunity to avoid the accident through reasonable care. If the party with the last clear chance to prevent the accident did not take proper action to avert the crash, then they may be held liable for their negligent actions, even if the other party also acted negligently.

If you are a pedestrian hurt by a motorist in an accident, contact an experienced North Carolina pedestrian injury lawyer as soon as possible to explore your legal options. Having a strong legal advocate who will fight for your rights and collect evidence and witness statements shortly after the crash can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

If a Driver Hits a Pedestrian, Will the Driver’s Insurance Cover It?

North Carolina is an at-fault insurance state. Under a fault-based system, injured individuals are able to seek damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you have been struck by a negligent motorist while walking, you should be able to file a claim with their insurance company for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and personal property repair and replacement.

Like most states, North Carolina requires drivers to maintain minimum liability insurance coverage. The required minimum amounts are as follows:

  • $30,000 for bodily injury for one person.
  • $60,000 for bodily injury for two or more people.
  • $25,000 for property damage.

Unfortunately, medical expenses can quickly outstrip these amounts, especially if there are multiple crash victims. If your damages surpass the driver’s insurance limits or they do not have insurance, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the remainder of your damages.

How Can a Personal Injury Law Firm Help You?

If you’ve been hit by a car while walking, you will likely have severe injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and a long recovery time. The losses resulting from these types of injuries can be immense. Unfortunately, insurers are quick to look for ways to place fault on the injured pedestrian to avoid paying these costs. The skilled lawyers at Harman Law are here to uphold your legal rights to compensation and ensure that your claim receives the consideration it deserves. Reach out to our law firm today to schedule a free consultation with our legal team to discuss your case: 704-286-0947.