Who is at Fault When a Pedestrian is Hit By a Car?


Pedestrians have a duty of ordinary care when crossing the street or encountering motor vehicle traffic on public roadways.  

Generally, both drivers and pedestrians must use reasonable care to avoid accidents and pedestrian injuries.  Drivers are typically entitled to assume that the pedestrians they encounter on the street will obey all traffic laws and exercise their duty of ordinary care, including the duty to look carefully before crossing the street.

Disabled Pedestrian’s Enhanced Duty of Care
Courts have found that hearing-impaired pedestrians should use greater care than the ordinary pedestrian in crossing the street to compensate for their inability to hear oncoming traffic. This enhanced duty to look requires the hearing-impaired pedestrian to look constantly to ensure his own safety as he crosses the street.  

If the pedestrian meets this enhanced standard of care and is nevertheless struck by traffic, he may not be found to have been negligent.
In one case, a hearing-impaired pedestrian was found to have exercised the required level of care when she observed the defendant’s car parked on the curb with no one inside before walking past the car and then starting to cross the street.  

Despite the pedestrian’s careful observations, she was hit by the vehicle when the defendant got into his car and backed over the pedestrian.  Because she exercised greater care by observing the empty car and walking down the street, the hearing-impaired pedestrian was found not to be negligent.

Driver’s Duty of Care to Pedestrians Who are Clearly Blind

Drivers also owe an enhanced duty of care to visually impaired pedestrians if it is clear to the driver that they are physically impaired. Vehicle Code 21963 provides that pedestrian who is carrying a white cane or walking with a guide dog have the right-of-way when crossing the street.

Drivers who encounter such pedestrians and fail to yield or take reasonably necessary precautions to avoid injuring the pedestrian will be guilty of a misdemeanor criminal offense.

Sacramento Pedestrian Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a pedestrian injury lawyer in Sacramento with nearly 40 years of experience successfully representing clients who have been involved in accidents.  If you have been in an accident involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, you must seek experienced legal counsel right away. Call our injury attorneys today at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400. If you prefer email, please fill out our contact form.

Editor's Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy. [cha 4.16.21]

Photo by Pixabay
Client Reviews
"Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!" Alex & Dinah M.
"Ed Smith and his office team took on a difficult personal injury case on my behalf and for the passenger in my car. Ed is a top- notch attorney. His staff couldn't have been more helpful and kind. No need to look elsewhere. I give Ed Smith my highest recommendation." Beverly
"Ed and Robert have been taking great care of my husband and I for the past 5+ years. They are always there when you have a problem and a quick resolution! Even when the issues have nothing to do with them. They are willing to help ease the pain off your shoulders. They are as good as it gets! Thank you again for everything." Annie T.
"Very professional. Great team, staff and service all around. Mr Smith was very honest, straight forward with his advice. He gives the word "attorney" an honest reputation. I will seek his council anytime, and would recommend him at the drop of a dime." Jeremy M.
"I would highly recommend Ed Smith to any friends or family in need of a personal injury attorney. Ed, and his staff, are very caring on top of being very experienced in this field. The staff always keeps you informed of the status of your case and they are always easy to reach by phone." Shannon D.
"Edward Smith law offices provide competent, thorough, and personable help for victims of personal injury. When you first meet the staff you know you contacted the right office. This law office treats clients like people. I recommend this office to anyone seeking representation regarding personal injury." David M.