Do pedestrians always have the right of way in Texas? While in most situations they do, the reality is that this isn’t always the case, since that would mean that every pedestrian accident would be the driver’s fault. So when do cars have the right of way over pedestrians?
What Is a “Duty to Avoid”?
Texas Transportation Code § 552.008 requires drivers to avoid pedestrians and exercise due care when on the road. In cases where this means going under the speed limit in residential areas or anticipating what someone might do, there is a gray area. The law places on every driver a duty to exercise reasonable care. This duty of care is amplified when there is a child around or an obviously disoriented or incapacitated person.
However, pedestrians must also exercise a reasonable duty of care while crossing streets.
When Pedestrians Do Not Have the Right of Way
If there is a crosswalk with signals, pedestrians are obliged to wait until the signal has changed before attempting to cross the street. If the signal warns them to wait or stop, a pedestrian must go to whichever side is closest.
This is true even when there are no cars coming. If there is a sidewalk, pedestrians are obliged to use it. In other words, they’re not allowed to walk in the middle of the street while cars are coming.
Other notable instances include the following situations:
- When the pedestrian is crossing outside of a crosswalk
- When the pedestrian crosses where there is a pedestrian tunnel or pedestrian bridge
Pedestrians must never “suddenly” leave the sidewalk into an area that has oncoming traffic. The driver must have time to yield. When the driver doesn’t, the pedestrian can be held liable for their own injuries. Lastly, pedestrians are never allowed to cross intersections diagonally unless the intersection specifically allows this.
When Drivers Must Yield to Pedestrians
Drivers must yield to pedestrians when:
- There is a walk signal or a green light in the direction that they are headed.
- In places where there is no signal, if a pedestrian enters the roadway on the same half of the road that a car is on, the vehicle has a duty to yield.
- A vehicle would also have the duty to yield if they spotted a pedestrian on the opposite side of the roadway.
- If a driver sees that another driver is stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross, it is unlawful to attempt to pass that driver.
- Lastly, a driver is required to yield to pedestrians when exiting a driveway, alleyway, or private road which leads to a public roadway.
Texas law places special requirements on drivers in the event that they see someone crossing with a service animal or a white cane.
Pedestrian Accident Liability
Pedestrian accidents occur more frequently now than ever before. There are two reasons for this. The first is distracted driving. The second is distracted walking. When an accident occurs between a vehicle and a pedestrian, a determination based on the aforementioned rules will be made concerning who is primarily at fault. In Texas, both the pedestrian and the driver can be held liable for an accident. However, only one party is allowed to recover damages for their accident.
If the pedestrian is found to be 51% at fault for the accident, the pedestrian would not be able to recover damages related to their injuries. If the pedestrian is 50% at fault or less, they can still recover damages, but that amount is reduced by their own percentage of liability. Therefore, a pedestrian who is 50% responsible for an accident can only recover half of their total damages.
How an Accident Attorney Can Help
When pedestrians are struck by vehicles they seldom walk away from the situation without some serious form of injury. Broken bones, concussions, and internal bleeding are quite common. These may require surgery or an extended period of rehab. Injury victims may be out of work while they heal. It is important to have a San Antonio injury lawyer litigate your case. We can help you seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Talk to a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Do pedestrians always have the right of way? The simple answer is no. But if you are unsure about who may be at fault, a San Antonio accident attorney at Brylak Law can help. Call us today for a free consultation.