Pedestrian accidents are often serious injury situations because the victim has zero protection other than possible barriers on a roadway or sidewalk. And they assuredly happen under a wide variety of circumstances. One of those circumstances is when they occur at night while visibility is low for motorists. This can happen in low-speed locations like city streets or out on the open highway when pedestrians are using the roadside as a pathway. And to make matters worse, they often happen at night. Who is responsible? – depends on the material details of the case.
All pedestrian accidents are investigated by local law enforcement officers who will produce an accident report. However, the accident report does not determine fault. It determines the accident facts with a reconstruction officer assessment. In North Carolina, any injured accident victim who is found even 1% at fault will be denied any financial recovery, so the motorist must be totally at fault for accident causation. And the concept that pedestrians always have the right of way may not exactly apply. While this is not an exhaustive list, examples of pedestrian fault in nighttime accidents can include:
- Crossing a street outside of designated walkways
- Crossing a street when a “do not walk” light is illuminated
- Walking on the right side of a highway
- Failure to wear reflective clothing of any type
- Intentionally walking into the roadway
- Stumbling and stepping off the pavement
What a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do
Luckily for injured pedestrians, final determination of fault for injuries is often assigned by a jury when a case goes to trial. However, clear cases of total driver fault are often settled well before this occurs. There are a number of Personal Injury Law firms in the Jacksonville, NC area and most should be qualified to investigate the accident independently and question any witnesses as well as the reconstruction officer if there is a discrepancy between investigations. The Personal Injury Lawyer may not always be trial-experienced however, so be sure to ask the question during your initial consultation with an attorney and before hiring them to represent your case.
Accident investigations will generally include an examination of accident scene reports, interviews with any witnesses to the accident, and possible depositions of witnesses. Where insurance providers agree with the findings of the reconstruction officer, and the findings are not in your favor, then your accident lawyer will have his or her work cut out in convincing a jury that the accident report contains errors. To avoid going to court and having the injured client assessed a major financial award by a sympathetic jury, insurance companies may agree to settle, even when there’s some portion of fault attributed to the injured person, but these cases are quite rare. [North Carolina’s ‘Contributory Negligence’ Laws come into effect when determining liability and the potential for financial damages.]
Never assume a pedestrian accident results in an automatic injury claim for the victim. The details matter significantly, and North Carolina insurance companies and defendants always contest the claim vigorously due to state negligence laws. Always call an experienced and aggressive North Carolina personal injury lawyer for comprehensive representation.