Pedestrian Accident FAQ

  • Can a child hit in a crosswalk be partly at fault?

    • Yes, if the child is old enough, and did something unexpected that led to the injury occurring
    • A child must exercise the care expected from a child of similar age, intelligence and experience
    • How old is ‘old enough’ depends on the circumstances

    In Taggart v. Heuchert a 10 year old girl was hit when crossing a four lane road by her school.  Several cars in the curb lane had slowed or stopped, but the driver in the median lane did not stop.  The girl was hit when she stepped out past the car in the curb lane.  She had been walking quickly, and had probably not looked to her left before stepping into the median lane.  She was either inside an unmarked crosswalk, or within 2-3 feet of it.

    He judge found that the girl was not at fault.  She did not do anything, such as running out in front of the driver, which would have prevented the driver from responding and stopping her car in time to avoid the collision.  She was walking, was in or very near a crosswalk, and was crossing where cars had stopped for her to cross.  Had she walked a little slower, or stopped, looked and listened before entering the next lane, she could have avoided being struck.  However, this was an error of judgment and a momentary lapse in awareness, not negligence.  She was in a 30 km/h school zone, crossing at an intersection where cars had stopped to let her and others cross.  It would not be unexpected of an adult, let alone a ten year old, to feel a level of personal safety that could momentarily distract them from all they had learned about safely crossing intersections.

    If you child has been hit by a car, we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Taggart v. Heuchert

  • Can a pedestrian in a cross-walk be at fault when hit?

    • Yes, but only in unusual circumstances such as when making gestures that could mislead the motorist into thinking they may proceed.
    • Generally, once a pedestrian has safely entered the crosswalk he may assume the motorist will yield the right-of-way.
    • To cast blame on the pedestrian in a crosswalk the motorist must prove the pedestrian should have realized the motorist was not going to stop and that the pedestrian could have done something to avoid being hit.

    In Farand v. Seidel the pedestrian entered the crosswalk and crossed three of four lanes.  She was hit by a slow moving truck driven by an elderly driver who had not seen her.  The motorist argued that the pedestrian was at fault because she left a place of safety, a small flower bed in the middle of the road.

    The judge rejected this argument and referred to the three principles set out above.  The pedestrian did not know nor could she reasonably know that the driver of the slow moving red pickup truck would not stop.  There was nothing she did or failed to do that contributed to the accident in any way.

    The judge in Suedat v. Kara also considered this issue. The judge said that pedestrians in crosswalks are not required to exercise extreme vigilance to ensure they are not hit. To place blame on the pedestrian the driver must prove more than inattention. Similarly, wearing dark clothes or using a dark umbrella is not proof that the pedestrian is at fault.

    In Mathroo v. Edge-Partington the pedestrian was hit when he was a few steps into the cross-walk. The driver had been stopped at the intersection, then turned right without looking forward. The judge found the driver 100% at fault. There was nothing to suggest to a reasonable pedestrian that the driver would move forward without looking. While the very safest course of pedestrians would be to interact defensively with all drivers by making eye contact, failing to do so is not a failure to act reasonably to preserve their own safety.

    If you have been hit by a car, we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the cases:  Farand v. Seidel, Suedat v. Kara, Mathroo v. Edge-Partington

  • I crossed the street against the light and was hit – am I completely at fault?

    • Not necessarily. If the driver failed to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians, the driver could share the blame.

    In Murdoch v. Biggers the pedestrian ran across the street against a red light.  The first two lanes of traffic were able to stop for her.  She made eye contact with the driver in the third lane, and thought that driver was stopped for her.  However, that driver was still in the process of stopping, and hit the pedestrian.

    The judge said that the pedestrian was at fault for disobeying the red light and "don’t walk" sign.  She was reckless in leaving a place of safety (a traffic island) and running into traffic.  The driver was at fault for failing to keep a proper lookout.  She did not see the pedestrian enter the roadway or see that the cars in the two lanes to her left had stopped for the pedestrian.  The judge decided that if she had kept a proper lookout she would have seen the pedestrian in time to stop for her.

    The pedestrian was 75% at fault and the driver 25% at fault.

    Pedestrian cases can be difficult, but we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Murdoch v. Biggers

  • I was hit by a car while running in a crosswalk – who is at fault?

    • It depends on the facts. The car could be 100% at fault, or fault might be shared.

    Under BC law, a pedestrian has several duties:

    • To yield the right of way to cars when crossing outside a crosswalk
    • Not to leave the curb or other place of safety (like a traffic island) and walk or run into the path of a car that is too close to stop

    A driver also has several duties:

    • To yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
    • To exercise care to avoid hitting a pedestrian on the road, whether in a crosswalk or not
    • To refrain from passing other vehicles that have slowed or stopped for pedestrians

    In Traynor v. Degroot the pedestrian was running.  She stopped on a corner and waited for traffic to stop so that she could cross.  Traffic stopped, and she jogged across the intersection.  The defendant motorist thought the cars were stopping to turn left, so he moved into the curb lane and passed them.  He hit the runner when she entered the curb lane.

    The Court of Appeal held that the motorist was 100% at fault.  The court said that the fact that she was jogging did not make it more difficult for the motorist to see her, and the fact that she was jogging rather than walking did not make her less able to react to an unexpected hazard.

    If you have been hit by a car while running, we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Traynor v. Degroot

  • My young child was hit by a car while riding his bike – who is at fault?

    • Very young children cannot be held legally responsible for their actions
    • The question is whether the child exercised the care to be expected from a child of similar age, intelligence and experience
    • Children are more prone to distraction than adults so a momentary lapse of awareness will be tolerated and not lead to legal responsibility

    In Connell v. Dyck the 8 year old cyclist was of above-average intelligence.  He had been riding a bike since age 5 or 6, and had training in the rules of the road both at school and at home.  However, on this day he rode his bike down the side of a main road, then without looking, turned left in front of a motorcycle.

    The judge decided that the child was 35% at fault.  He was old enough that he could be legally responsible for his actions.  This was not a case where there was a momentary lapse of attention, distraction or error in judgment.

    The motorist was 65% at fault.  The motorist was familiar with the area and knew the busy road was used by children.  He saw the cyclist on one side of the road and his 11 year old sister on the other side.  He had honked and slowed when he was some distance away.  However, given the obvious youth of the child, his position on the edge of the pavement, the quietness of the motorcycle and the presence of another child on the other side of the road, the motorist should have slowed even more and sounded his horn until he could see that the boy was aware of the motorcycle’s presence.

    When a bicycle collision involves a young child, you need experience on your side.  We can help.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Connell v. Dyck

  • Who is at fault when a pedestrian is hit outside a cross-walk?

    • Each case depends on its facts – both parties might be partly at fault.
    • A driver has the right of way if the pedestrian is not in a cross-walk.
    • No matter who has the right of way both parties have a duty to exercise due care and liability will fall on a party who fails to do this.

    In Wong-Lai v. Ong the pedestrians were crossing the road about 20 meters away from the intersection.  They were wearing dark clothes and crossing a major 4 lane street in the dark during a heavy rain storm.  Despite this, they would have been visible to a driver at a distance of about a block.  The driver was concentrating on changing out of the curb lane to avoid a parked car some distance ahead.  Neither party saw the other before the collision.

    The judge decided that both parties were at fault.  The driver had the initial right of way, as the pedestrians were not in a cross-walk.  However, he failed in his duty to keep a proper look out and take reasonable steps to avoid apparent hazards.  The pedestrians had also failed to keep a proper look out.  They had placed themselves in an extremely dangerous position in choosing to cross at a dangerous location in poor light and weather conditions.  The pedestrians were 75% at fault, the driver 25%.

    In Anderson v. Kozniuk the pedestrian started in an unmarked crosswalk, but part way across angled towards the bus stop, leaving the crosswalk.  He knew that a car was coming, but paid no attention to it.  The driver knew that pedestrian could be expected in the area due to the nearby bus stop and grocery store, but did not see the pedestrian until he was one foot in front of her car.

    The judge decided that the pedestrian was 30% at fault and the driver was 70% at fault.  The pedestrian’s fault lay in leaving the crosswalk and failing to even glance over his shoulder to determine where the oncoming car was.  By angling out of the crosswalk he lengthened his journey and entered a darker area of the street, both of which increased the risk he put himself to.  The driver’s fault was in keeping her eyes focused straight ahead and not even glancing to the sides to check for pedestrians.  The driver should have kept a careful lookout and slowed slightly since she knew about the possibility of pedestrians in the area.   The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial decision.

    If you do not agree with ICBC’s assessment of liability in your collision, contact us.  We can help.

    Read the cases:  Wong-Lai v. Ong

    Anderson v. Kozniuk