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Who’s Liable in a Seattle Crosswalk Accident?

By Pendergast Law on October 6, 2016

This April news story on a tragic crosswalk accident in North Seattle involving a teen being struck by an elderly driver once again highlighted an overlooked problem of traffic safety. Whereas Seattleites might assume a reasonable expectation of safety when walking on sidewalks and crosswalks throughout the city, the actual numbers indicate the reality is far more disturbing.

As stated in an article by the Seattle Times,  pedestrian deaths increased by an estimated 10% nationwide in 2015, while they leapt by 28% in Washington State. There were 32 pedestrian deaths in Washington in the first six months of 2014, while the state saw 41 such deaths during the same period last year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise since 2005, now accounting for 15% of total traffic deaths. With the problem worsening, what options do local residents have in the case of an incident? If you or a loved one have been struck by a motor vehicle, you are most likely entitled to compensation for any injuries.

Unfortunately, unlike motor vehicle collisions, which normally involve two insured vehicles, pedestrians do not have insurance agents that can act on their behalf. As such, they will often be at the mercy of the perpetrator’s insurance company, and will be under pressure to settle for much less than they might otherwise be expected to receive.

Furthermore, liability in such cases can be very difficult to determine. In most cases, it is the driver of the vehicle who will be held liable if they did not yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk. But in some cases, the municipality that designed or is in charge of maintaining the roadway can be found liable. Examples include a poorly designed intersection, a broken stoplight, poor lighting, or a stop sign obscured by foliage. If the accident was caused by a defective vehicle or vehicle part, the designer and manufacturer of that vehicle or part can be held liable.

Sometimes, a pedestrian at a crosswalk can be found at fault or partially at fault. Washington is a comparative negligence state, meaning that more than one party can share fault in an accident. For example, if the pedestrian was crossing the crosswalk against the light when they were struck by a driver who was texting, a jury could rule that the pedestrian was 25% at fault and the driver was 75% at fault. This would mean that, if it were decided that the pedestrian was to be awarded $10,000, that award would be reduced by 25%.

No matter what the details are in your particular case, if you or a loved one have been the victim in a pedestrian crosswalk accident, you need a Seattle  crosswalk accident lawyer  who fully understands Washington injury and liability law and can advocate on your behalf. Contact the attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. today at (888) 228-3860 for a free consultation.

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