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Can pedestrians be at fault for a motor vehicle accident?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Auto, Truck, and Motorcycle Accidents

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, pedestrians and drivers share the roads and streets. Each person who uses the roads and sidewalks, no matter their method, must observe certain rules and responsibilities.

While it is commonly assumed that motor vehicle drivers bear the brunt of responsibility in accidents involving pedestrians, the reality is more nuanced. Pedestrians can indeed be at fault for accidents involving vehicles, and understanding how is important to ensure safety for everyone.

Crosswalks and traffic signals

One of the primary situations where pedestrians can be at fault is when they fail to use designated crosswalks or ignore traffic signals. Crosswalks and traffic signals regulate the flow of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic, promoting safety for all. When pedestrians disregard these signals and dart across the road unexpectedly, they increase the likelihood of a collision with a vehicle.


Jaywalking, or crossing the street outside of designated areas, is another common scenario where pedestrians can be at fault. Whether crossing in the middle of a busy street or ignoring traffic signs, jaywalking poses significant risks not only to pedestrians themselves but also to drivers who may not anticipate sudden movements.

Impaired judgment

Impaired judgment due to distractions such as using smartphones, listening to music with headphones or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also lead to pedestrians being at fault in accidents. When pedestrians are not fully aware of their surroundings or are unable to react promptly to traffic conditions, they increase the chances of a collision with a vehicle.

Failure to yield right of way

Pedestrians are often granted the right of way in certain situations, such as at crosswalks or intersections. However, pedestrians can be at fault if they fail to yield the right of way to vehicles when required. Ignoring oncoming traffic or stepping onto the road unexpectedly can result in accidents where the pedestrian is to blame.

Statistics from the New York State Department of Health show that there are approximately 15,000 pedestrian injuries due to traffic accidents in the state per year. This figure shows just how common pedestrian accidents are in New York, but it is important for everyone to remember that both motorists and pedestrians can bear fault for these incidents.