The traffic laws regarding pedestrians are chiefly concerned with protecting those on foot from being involved in an accident with a vehicle. Accidents between pedestrians and vehicles are often tragic and leave the victim with significant injuries. Despite these protective laws, accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians are all too common. Over the last decade Nebraska has averaged one vehicle accident involving a pedestrian every single day. These accidents can leave the victim and their families devastated and saddled with large medical bills.
Insurance companies will try to shift as much of the blame on the pedestrian for the accident as they can to reduce the amount they have to pay. It is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to fully understand your legal options. There are a number of Nebraska traffic laws that can come into play when filing a claim to recover losses as the pedestrian victim in a car accident.
Rules Regarding Crossing at a Crosswalk
If a crosswalk is equipped with a traffic signal foot traffic is required to follow all signs and signals. Pedestrians may only start walking when the signal displays either a “WALK” or pedestrian icon. A red hand flashing means you may continue crossing if you have already entered the crosswalk, but if you have not started crossing then you need to wait for the next signal. If a crosswalk with signals is present at both ends of a street, then it is illegal to cross except at the crosswalks. Crosswalks not equipped with a signal for the pedestrians can lead to confusion for drivers and pedestrians.
A common misconception is that pedestrians always have the right-of-way at a crosswalk. The pedestrian must ensure that any approaching vehicle has enough room to safely stop before entering the crosswalk. Vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who fulfill this requirement. Unmarked crosswalks at intersections are subject to these same rules. However, in at least one city the local government has opted for a more restrictive interpretation of the state law.
Crossing the Street in the City of Lincoln or Lancaster County
In a controversial move the city attorney for Lincoln has added a requirement for pedestrians. Before a car must yield the right-of-way, the pedestrian must indicate their intention to cross the street by actually stepping off the curb. Hand signals or waving are not enough. Police officers must see evidence of the pedestrian stepping off the curb before ticketing a driver for failure to yield.
Sidewalks and Jaywalking
State law requires pedestrians to use sidewalks if available. Failure to walk on the sidewalk could theoretically result in a ticket for jaywalking. However, the seldom imposed fine for jaywalking is still a modest one dollar. If no sidewalk is available, the law instructs pedestrians to walk on the side of the road that allows them to face oncoming traffic.
Outside of Intersections and Crosswalks
In all situations outside of intersections and crosswalks pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to the drivers of vehicles on the roadway. Pedestrians need to exercise caution when crossing roads away from intersections. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently found that 73% of all pedestrian accident fatalities occurred at non-intersection locations. When an accident does occur, these traffic rules come into play in determining fault. That determination can have a dramatic effect on settlement or trial.
Comparative Negligence Impact on Injury Claims Involving Pedestrians
Nebraska state law is one of comparative negligence with a 50 percent rule. In the case of an accident, the driver must be at least 51 percent at fault for the pedestrian to recover any damages at all. The assigning of percentages of fault is based on evidence that is either agreed to as part of settlement or determined at trial by the judge or jury. Under most circumstances, the court or settlement will reduce the damages by the percentage of fault assigned to that party. Evidence that either party neglected to follow the traffic laws can have a significant impact on the final award.
Evidence that can support a higher percentage of fault for the driver can include:
- Running a red light
- Excessive speed
- Not completely stopping at stop sign
- Distracted Driving
- Not staying on road
- Failing to yield right-of-way at crosswalk or intersection
Evidence that could potentially shift some of the fault to the victim:
- Entering crosswalk against the light
- Not staying on sidewalk
- Failing to yield right-of-way when not at an intersection
Gathering and using the available evidence to make the strongest case for assigning fault is a vital step in the litigation process for settlement or trial. Insurance companies may be dismissive of claims by an injured pedestrian citing fault and make a low-ball offer. Having an experienced attorney who specializes in recovering damages for an injured pedestrian can make a world of difference.
What to do if You Are the Victim in a Pedestrian Accident
Even a minor accident between car and pedestrian is very traumatic. More serious accidents are potentially life changing events. If you are conscious and able to do so safely there several things you can do to help protect your legal rights.
- Dial 9-1-1 and seek medical help immediately
- Contact the police department
- Document any injuries
- Take pictures of the scene of the accident if possible
- Do not discuss ‘fault’ at the scene or with the driver’s insurance company
- Seek Professional Legal Assistance
Recovering Damages as an Injured Pedestrian
The victim must take into consideration a wide range of factors when calculating damages for an award. Only after a careful review of the full medical record and thorough examination of any impact to the victim’s quality of life will the final amount begin to come into focus. A majority of the damages will typically center around these areas:
- Any medical bills related to the injury
- Estimate of any future medical expenses
- Compensation for chronic conditions
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional, mental, and psychological distress
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Impact to quality of life
In certain cases where evidence of negligence or malice exists, there is also the possibility of punitive damages.
The Advocates have been a top personal injury firm for almost 30 years. We are experts at recovering losses for pedestrians injured by a car accident. Let the attorneys at The Advocates handle the hospital bills, claims adjusters, and insurance companies so you can stay focused on your recovery. As a national firm we have the resources to stand up the insurance companies and make them pay their fair share. Call today for a free consultation. An attorney from The Advocates is standing by discuss your case. You can contact our office by calling (402) 275-6980, fill out the form below, or chat with us on our homepage. Don’t you deserve an Advocate?