The greatest threats to pedestrian safety are drivers. Negligent and careless drivers running into pedestrians cause thousands of life-changing injuries and deaths in the U.S. each year. In one year alone, 193 pedestrians died in motor vehicle crashes in Georgia. The rate of pedestrian accidents has unsteadily increased year after year in Georgia since 2008. When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the key question is, “Who will be liable for the accident?” Since Georgia is a tort-based insurance state, the parties involved must identify fault before filing a claim for damages. Several laws may apply to a pedestrian accident case.
Pedestrian Rights-of-Way in Georgia
Like most states, Georgia does not automatically give pedestrians the right-of-way. While pedestrians do have the right-of-way in certain situations, they may not step into the road assuming they have the right to cross, doing so may cause a serious pedestrian accident. Drivers also do not bear constant right-of-way. A driver cannot continue through a crosswalk without stopping if a pedestrian is trying to cross. Pedestrian rights-of-way are important roadway rules all road users should understand in Georgia.
It is against the law in Georgia to cut off a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk. Drivers must come to complete stops when pedestrians are on their side of the road or approaching quickly enough to present a hazard.
Pedestrians have a responsibility to stay at the curb until it is safe to enter the crosswalk or roadway. Even with the right-of-way, a pedestrian should not step off a curb into traffic. Pedestrians must leave enough room to make it practical for an oncoming driver to stop.
Pedestrians bear the right-of-way at all unmarked intersections. Drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing the road. At marked intersections, however, pedestrians only have the right to cross during the walk signal.
It is illegal in Georgia for a pedestrian to cross the road anywhere other than at an intersection between two adjacent stoplights. If a pedestrian crosses somewhere other than an intersection or crosswalk (jaywalking), he or she must yield to drivers. No pedestrian may cross a street diagonally unless at an intersection with diagonal crosswalks.
Georgia Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving is often a factor involved in pedestrian-vehicle collision cases in Georgia. Distracted drivers are more likely to speed, break roadway rules and fail to see pedestrians entering crosswalks. In Georgia, it is against the law to use handheld cellphones behind the wheel. Drivers cannot text or talk while physically holding cellphones. If a driver breaks this law and strikes a pedestrian, the driver will most likely be at fault for the accident. Breaking a Georgia roadway law and hitting a pedestrian could lead to a lawsuit against the driver.
Comparative Fault Laws
Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning an injured party can still recover some compensation even if he or she contributed to the accident. Partial fault will not bar a victim entirely from recovery. Instead, the courts will deduct the same percentage of the plaintiff’s fault from his or her recovery award, up to 50%. If the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for the accident, however, he or she will not obtain any compensation.
Georgia’s comparative negligence law may apply to a pedestrian accident case if both parties contributed to the collision. If the pedestrian was jaywalking, for example, but the driver was looking at his or her phone and did not see the pedestrian, both parties could receive a percentage of fault for the accident. As long as the pedestrian was less than 50% responsible, however, he or she could receive at least a partial recovery award. A pedestrian accident attorney can help a victim maximize his or her compensation after a vehicle collision in Gwinnett County.