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Safety Tips for Pedestrians
ELI5: Negligence

You’ve likely seen the news articles on KSL recently featuring pedestrians that have been seriously, if not fatally, injured by a negligent driver. A lot of people would be surprised to hear just how much damage a car can do when it’s only going a few miles per hour. Although pedestrians typically do have the right of way legally, they aren’t always given the right of way by drivers: many Utahns are injured each year when careless drivers aren’t paying attention and injure a pedestrian. If you spend a lot of time running or walking in high traffic areas, it’s important that you know your rights and you know how to stay safe.

Explaining Modified Comparative Fault

Utah law includes something called modified comparative fault. In the most simple terms, this means that multiple parties can share fault for an accident. In some circumstances, both the pedestrian and the driver can be liable for causing the accident. If the plaintiff is more than 50% liable for causing the accident, the plaintiff will not be able to get compensation for their injuries. Here’s a good example: a car is passing through a green light when a pedestrian jaywalks across the street. If the car hits the pedestrian, who’s liable? Well, in Utah, they can both be liable. The pedestrian should have been looking both ways when he or she crossed the streetand they should have been crossing in the crosswalkand the driver should have been looking out for pedestrians. However, just because they can both be liable, doesn’t mean they will both be found to be liable. Who pays for the pedestrian’s injuries will depend upon the extenuating circumstances after the incident is fully analyzed.

Right of Way in Parking Lots

Pedestrians almost always have the right of way in a parking lot. But that doesn’t mean you should just step out of the store and into the parking lot without looking both ways. Most people who have had the misfortune of being struck by a vehicle would rather not exercise their right of way than be injured. A lot of people drive much faster than they need to in parking lots. And, a lot of people choose to text while they’re driving through parking lots. If you’re walking through a parking lot, keep this in mind. Even though you have the right of way, it’s imperative that you’re looking out for drivers who aren’t paying attention or are going too fast. Getting injured is just not worth it.

Lighting and Weather

Consider the lighting outside when you leave and think about what the lighting might be like when you get home. If it’s going to be dark at any point while you’re walking around, you should refrain from wearing dark clothing. Wearing reflective clothing may provide additional safety and visibility. When you’re using crosswalks at night, be on the lookout for cars turning into the crosswalk, especially if the crosswalk is not well-lit. A driver may not be able to see you even if you’re using the crosswalk if it’s particularly dark outside. If weather conditions may have impacted a driver’s visibility, consider this too as you’re using crosswalks.

Use Sidewalks When Possible

If it’s possible, use sidewalks and refrain from walking in high traffic areas unless there’s not a sidewalk. A lot of people think that they can use their phones while driving if they’re in a place with a reduced speed limit such as a residential area or a parking lot. However, a lot of pedestrians are struck by distracted drivers in the aforementioned circumstances. Since sidewalks aren’t part of the road, they provide pedestrians with additional safety. It is more difficult for a distracted driver to veer onto a sidewalk than it is for a distracted driver to drive too close to the shoulder, thus hitting a pedestrian who isn’t on the sidewalk.

Put Your Phone Away

It may be an unpopular opinion, but pedestrians should also refrain from texting or using their phones when they aren’t on the sidewalk. Even in parking lots, you may not be able to hear a car approaching, and you won’t be as aware of your surroundings when you’re distracted by your phone. Priuses and certain electric cars are notorious for being too quiet to hear in parking lots. And, as previously mentioned, many car drivers fail to look out for pedestrians as they’re turning into the crosswalk. When cars are turning left at a green light, they may fail to realize that they’re supposed to yield to the pedestrians in the crosswalk when the walk signal is turned on. Therefore, if you’re going through a crosswalk, make sure you’re looking out for cars coming your way. This can also be true for cars turning right. The driver may be looking to their left for a break in traffic, and if the light turns green and you get a walk signal, you may step in front of the car when the driver never saw you.

Contact an Attorney

At Moxie Law Group, we’re committed to helping the victims of injury get the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed by medical bills and other injury related expenses such as loss of income, or loss of earning potential. If you’re seeking relief from these burdens, contact Moxie Law Group today for a free consultation.