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Can a Pedestrian Be at Fault for a Car Accident?

In most accidents involving a pedestrian, the driver of the vehicle is held responsible. There are good reasons for that policy, too. Because pedestrians are likely to suffer much more severe injuries in an accident, drivers are held to a higher standard of safety protocols.

But can a pedestrian ever be at fault for an accident? It’s an important question — one that could make all the difference in a personal injury lawsuit.

Here’s what to do if a negligent pedestrian caused your car crash.

Minnesota’s Right-of-Way Laws for Pedestrians


Minnesota law gives pedestrians significant protections when walking on or near roads. Vehicles are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in most cases, even on sections of road with no crosswalk markings. Drivers must then wait until the pedestrian has left their lane to proceed.

Any driver who violates Minnesota pedestrian right-of-way laws could be charged with a misdemeanor offense and face possible jail time or fines. (See Sec. 169.21 MN Statutes.)

But while pedestrians do have the right-of-way, they can still be considered at fault in the eyes of the law. Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to exercise reasonable care on the road, and a pedestrian who fails in that regard will be considered negligent if their reckless actions cause an accident.

In fact, you don’t have to actually hit anyone for pedestrian negligence to come into play in a personal injury claim. If a driver swerves to avoid a negligent pedestrian and hits another vehicle or a stationary object, the pedestrian can still be held responsible

Examples of Pedestrian Negligence


There are quite a few situations in which a negligent pedestrian could be held responsible for a car accident. These include:

  • Crossing or walking on roads where there is no clear pedestrian crosswalk or walkway (in such cases, the pedestrian has the right-of-way, but is still responsible for their own actions and the inherent risks involved)
  • Ignoring and defying traffic signals or signs
  • Entering a street or road while under the influence of alcohol or drug
  • Behaving recklessly, such as darting into a street, running erratically on a sidewalk, or wandering in and out of traffic
  • Entering a street or road while distracted by a phone or other device
    Walking on bridges, highways, causeways, or other areas where pedestrians are prohibited (unless in an emergency)
  • Not looking before crossing the street and moving into the path of an oncoming vehicle
  • Wearing dark clothing while walking at night
  • Intentionally distracting a driver

As you might guess, many of these factors would leave room for interpretation in determining responsibility for an accident. The presence of one or more of them wouldn’t guarantee that the pedestrian was at fault.

For example, if a pedestrian crossed the street at a crosswalk while looking at their phone or intoxicated, this wouldn’t constitute careless behavior, as they had the right-of-way and were obeying the rules of the road. In this case, the driver would likely be the negligent party.

What to Do If a Negligent Pedestrian Caused Your Car Accident

In the event of a pedestrian accident, no matter who is at fault, the first thing to do is call 911. This is obviously the right thing to do anyway, but it could also help you prove that you weren’t responsible.

Police officers can evaluate any injuries and prepare an accident report. They’ll get witness accounts, document both sides of the story, take pictures, and possibly even assign blame. Having a professional accident report prepared by a police officer during an accident may very well be better for your case than if you wait and file one yourself.

Don’t just leave it to the police, though. While everything is still fresh in your mind, make your own notes of what happened, especially anything that would make you believe that a negligent pedestrian was at fault. If you get any medical attention, keep the records for establishing your claims for reimbursement.

Why is it so important to establish such a clear record? Well, as the driver, you may be held liable for any costs resulting from injuries that exceed the no-fault insurance provided to both parties in a crash. If you can prove that a negligent pedestrian was at fault, however, you can avoid paying more than you truly owe and seek compensation for your own injuries.

That isn’t always easy, though. While pedestrian negligence certainly has substantial legal precedence, the law does tend to assume the driver was at fault. And rest assured, any insurance companies involved are going to try to give you the short end of the stick.

Fortunately, you don’t have to fight the battle on your own. A skilled personal injury attorney will know how to investigate the details of the case — such as surveillance footage, eyewitness statements, and accident reports — in order to build a strong case.

Maybe We Can Help

If you or somebody you love was injured in an accident caused by a negligent pedestrian, SiebenCarey’s team of experienced auto accident attorneys are ready to lend a hand. For more than 70 years, we’ve helped thousands of personal injury victims get the full financial support they need. We’ll be happy to do the same for you.

Click here for a free, no-obligation case evaluation, and we’ll make sure you understand your legal position. Then, we’ll get right to work winning you the compensation you’re entitled to.

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Eric W. Beyer helped me through a very difficult time and his professionalism, advice and results from an injury were highly respected. Amidst the personal part of getting myself back to health, his guidance when life was blurry was so appreciated. He listened and then put forth my options honestly and directly which I totally appreciated!

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Chris and Amy Boys

We worked with Art and his team on a personal injury case. We could not have been more pleased with the result. Art and his team were both professional and personable, and were a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend Art and his team if you find yourself in this type of situation.

Daunne Schaller

I was seriously injured in a car accident on my wedding night and went to SiebenCarey. Being involved in an accident is never fun. The folks at SiebenCarey got us thru the event helping us get on with our lives. They were up front and honest. We knew we could trust them. It’s clear to me why Art has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America and Super Lawyer for 12 years running. Now anytime I know someone who was involved in an accident I refer them to SiebenCarey.

Deb Colombe

I was involved in a car accident that was complicated at best. God blessed with me Eric Beyer as my attorney. Although it was a long drawn out process between the two insurance companies, Eric was not only my attorney, he was my rock.

Eric is one of the most ethical people I have ever met in my lifetime. He was a constant source of not only information, but of comfort throughout the whole process. I never doubted for one moment that Eric did not have my best interest at heart. He took every word I said seriously and did what he had to do. If I ever have the misfortune of another injury like this, I would go to no one other than Eric Beyer. I will never in my lifetime be able to thank Eric enough or let him know how much I respect him and what a comfort he was and has continued to be for me. God Bless you Eric Beyer.

Jesse Bukal

In need of a personal injury attorney? Well you're if you're reading this you're in the right place. You'd be hard pressed to find more competent attorneys than the ones here at SiebenCarey.

They took my case to trial and an amazing job presenting the facts and fighting for my best interests! Three years ago I was unsure of what my future would bring; now that it's over I can rest a bit easier. With SiebenCarey as my counsel, I believe I had the absolute BEST representation a person could've asked for. I knew that I wanted the absolute best representation when searching for an attorney to handle my case and I most definitely received it.

If you need a personal injury attorney, look no further. Can't recommend highly enough.

Teresa Zweber

I retained Robert Brabbit in 2011 for a workmans comp case. I have been extremely pleased with him as my attorney. He won the first part of my case with ease, he has great knowledge and professionalism and am anxious to see the end results of my settlement. I would recommend him highly and he won against a major retail store.

Morgan Petoletti

My husband had an amazing experience with this firm. They listened and took the time to understand our case.

Sheryl Nixon

Jeff Sieben was the first one I talked to about my injury. I was not sure if there was even a case. But as the months went by and my pain got worse, the seriousness of the injury became apparent. Jeff took on the case and put me at ease about the medical bills and calls. He was professional in his attitude while being compassionate to my situation. I have recommended him to others and will continue to do so. 

Ashlyn Wall

They were able to work with me while I was away for school and much appreciated the help. I would highly recommend them!

Adele Thompson
I would like to express my gratitude for the excellent assistance in processing my legal action necessary due to a car accident. In particular Matthew Steinbrink exceeded my expectations regarding all the necessary paperwork and negotiating on my behalf. I would not hesitate to recommend SiebenCarey in the future.

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