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By Jarome Gautreaux

Whether a pedestrian can be at fault in an accident can sometimes be tricky. In Georgia, the law acknowledges that pedestrians, like drivers, have responsibilities when navigating streets and sidewalks. While many might assume that the driver is always to blame in auto-pedestrian incidents, this is not necessarily true. Various actions or behaviors by pedestrians, such as jaywalking, distracted walking, or disregarding traffic signals, can contribute to accidents, thereby assigning them a degree of fault. This concept aligns with Georgia’s modified comparative negligence rule, which permits injured parties to recover damages provided they are less than 50% at fault. Understanding the dynamics of fault in pedestrian accidents is crucial for pedestrians and drivers to navigate the roads safely​​​.

Circumstances Under Which A Pedestrian Can Be At Fault

Pedestrians can be found at fault or partially at fault in the following scenarios:

  •  Jaywalking: In Georgia, jaywalking refers to crossing the street outside a marked crosswalk or an intersection. If a pedestrian gets hurt while jaywalking, they may be found at fault for the accident, especially if the driver followed traffic laws at the time of the collision. In areas without marked crosswalks, pedestrians should cross streets at intersections with an implied crosswalk. However, even at these intersections, pedestrians should yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway if traffic signals control the intersection or crossing at a diagonal is not expressly permitted.

While pedestrians in crosswalks generally have the right-of-way, this does not absolve them of all responsibility. Pedestrians must not suddenly leave a curb or other safe place and walk or run into the path of a vehicle so close it is impractical for the driver to yield. Even when crossing legally, pedestrians must remain alert and make eye contact with drivers when possible.

Pedestrians must obey all pedestrian signals and signs. Starting to cross the street against a pedestrian signal (for example, when there is an illuminated “Don’t Walk” sign) is considered jaywalking and prohibited. Ignoring these signals and proceeding to cross can lead to accidents for which the pedestrian could be held responsible.

In addition, when sidewalks are available, Georgia law requires pedestrians to use them instead of walking on the road. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the shoulder of the road facing oncoming traffic.

  • Walking Along Highways or Bridges: Pedestrians are generally prohibited from walking along highways, interstates, and certain bridges in Georgia. If a pedestrian gets struck while walking in these areas, they may be at fault due to the illegality of their presence there.
  • Darting into Traffic: If a pedestrian suddenly leaves a place of safety and enters traffic, causing an immediate hazard for which a driver cannot reasonably stop or swerve, the pedestrian may be responsible for any resulting accident.
  • Intoxication: An intoxicated pedestrian who causes an accident may be found at fault, similar to a drunk driver. Intoxication can impair judgment and reaction times, leading to unsafe crossing or entering traffic unpredictably.
  • Distraction: Pedestrians who are distracted by their phones, headphones, or other devices and ignore their surroundings can be found at fault if their distraction leads to an accident.

It is always best for pedestrians to follow local traffic laws and regulations, remain alert, and prioritize safety to reduce the likelihood of accidents and potential fault. Drivers and pedestrians alike have a shared responsibility to prevent accidents. In the event of an accident involving a pedestrian, the specific details and evidence associated with the incident will typically determine fault and liability. Gautreaux Law has experienced attorneys who can help you if you have been involved in a pedestrian accident and need to know your rights. Contact our office for an initial consultation.

About the Author
Jarome Gautreaux is a personal injury trial lawyer. He represents people who have been seriously injured, as well as the families of people killed because of carelessness or negligence. For over 20 years, he has successfully recovered more than 100 million dollars in a variety of Macon personal injury cases. Jarome’s reputation for client focus and case success has led to other lawyers requesting his assistance with complex personal injury litigation. What drives Jarome every day is his strong belief that the amount of money someone has should not dictate the justice they receive. It is for this reason that he has never worked for corporations, insurance companies, or other interest groups. Instead, he thrives on helping the people who need it most- people who have suffered at the hands of others and deserve compensation.