Texas Pedestrian Laws: Your Legal Rights When Hit by a Car

Reviewed by Louis Patino, JD, DC

Louis Patino, JD, DC
A former U.S. Army Combat Medic, Dr. Louis Patino is a distinguished attorney recognised by Top Attorneys of America, Expertise, and the American Institute of Trial Lawyers. He has a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Southern University and a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker College of Chiropractic.

Understanding the intricacies of pedestrian laws isn’t just a matter of legal knowledge; it’s essential for safeguarding your rights and well-being. Texas, like any other state, has specific legal rights and responsibilities designed to protect pedestrians. 

Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities

Pedestrian Rights

Pedestrians enjoy a unique set of rights under Texas law. These rights are a testament to the state’s commitment to ensuring safe and fair use of its roadways. To begin with, pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks. This fundamental rule places the onus on drivers to yield to pedestrians who are rightfully using a marked crosswalk. It’s a simple yet powerful measure aimed at prioritizing pedestrian safety in Texas.

In addition to crosswalk rights, Texas law encourages pedestrians to utilize sidewalks whenever they are available. This not only keeps them out of the flow of vehicular traffic but also enhances pedestrian safety. It’s a mutual responsibility: drivers are expected to respect pedestrian rights at crosswalks, and pedestrians, in return, are encouraged to use sidewalks.

Book a free case review with our dedicated personal injury lawyer in McAllen and San Antonio to learn about your rights to compensation as a pedestrian injured in an auto accident.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

With rights come responsibilities, and pedestrians are no exception. While Texas law ensures their safety, pedestrians must also play a part in adhering to traffic regulations. This includes respecting traffic signals, obeying “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” signs, and using designated crosswalks whenever possible.

Examples abound of how pedestrians can inadvertently contribute to accidents. Stepping into the road without caution, ignoring traffic signals, or darting across traffic unexpectedly can all result in dangerous situations. These actions can sometimes complicate the determination of liability when an accident occurs.

Texas’s legal system acknowledges that accidents are rarely clear-cut. In cases where both the pedestrian and the driver share some level of responsibility, compensation may be adjusted to reflect this shared liability. Understanding these aspects of the law is crucial in ensuring a fair and just outcome in pedestrian accident cases.

Determining Liability in Pedestrian Accidents

The Complexity of Determining Liability

Determining liability in pedestrian accidents is seldom straightforward. These incidents can vary widely, from collisions with vehicles to bicycle or motorcycle accidents and even unexpected dog bite attacks. Of these, car accidents involving pedestrians are the most common, but regardless of the specific circumstances, assessing fault requires careful examination.

Presenting a Case Example

Consider a scenario where a pedestrian is struck by a speeding driver while crossing the road. On the surface, it might appear that the driver is solely responsible. However, upon closer inspection, it’s revealed the pedestrian darted onto the road without checking for oncoming traffic. This complicates the matter significantly, invoking Texas’ modified comparative negligence laws.

Comparative Negligence Impact on Compensation

The concept of comparative negligence acknowledges that both the pedestrian and the driver may share some degree of fault in an accident. Under this framework, the compensation awarded to the claimant is adjusted based on their level of contribution to the accident.

In the case mentioned, the claimant’s compensation may be slightly reduced to account for their actions. This system strives for fairness, ensuring that each party bears responsibility in proportion to their actions.

Navigating the complexities of determining liability in pedestrian accidents necessitates a thorough investigation and legal expertise to ensure that all parties’ rights are protected. It underscores the importance of gathering evidence to support the legal claims of the injured party and highlights the pivotal role of legal professionals in achieving a just resolution.

Gathering Evidence 

In the aftermath of a pedestrian accident, gathering evidence becomes a critical component of seeking justice and fair compensation. The more evidence you can provide, the stronger your case will be. Evidence can substantiate your claims, establish liability, and aid in achieving a just resolution.

Essential Evidence Types

  • Medical Reports: A crucial piece of the puzzle, medical reports document your injuries and their severity. They not only serve as a record of your condition but also connect your injuries to the accident, proving causation.
  • Witness Statements: Eyewitnesses can provide invaluable testimonies regarding the accident’s details, potentially corroborating your version of events and bolstering your case.
  • CCTV Footage: If available, security camera footage can be a game-changer. It often provides a clear, unbiased account of the accident and can decisively establish fault.

Strengthening Your Case

Evidence is the backbone of any legal dispute, and in pedestrian accidents, it plays a pivotal role. Medical reports can directly link your injuries to the accident, while witness statements can provide credible, third-party perspectives. CCTV footage, if obtained, can remove any ambiguity surrounding the accident’s circumstances.

Together, these pieces of evidence build a compelling narrative that supports your claims, helps determine liability, and increases the likelihood of receiving fair compensation.

Types of Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents

Severity of Injuries

Pedestrian accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, varying in severity from minor to life-altering. The absence of protective equipment and direct exposure to vehicular impact makes pedestrians particularly vulnerable. Even seemingly minor incidents can lead to significant harm.

Various Injuries

  • Broken Bones: Fractured limbs, especially legs and arms, are common due to the impact of a collision.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries: Head injuries, including concussions and more severe traumatic brain injuries, are a concern when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: These injuries can have long-lasting, devastating effects on mobility and overall well-being.
  • Cuts and Lacerations: These injuries can vary from minor cuts to deep lacerations, often requiring stitches and potentially causing scarring.
  • Fatalities: Tragically, some pedestrian accidents result in fatalities, causing immeasurable grief for the victim’s family.

The Need for Comprehensive Medical Treatment

The severity of these injuries often necessitates extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care. Recovery can be physically, emotionally, and financially demanding. Seeking immediate and comprehensive medical attention is crucial to addressing injuries promptly, minimizing long-term complications, and documenting the extent of your suffering, which is vital for seeking compensation.

Compensation for Injured Pedestrians

Types of Damages

Injured pedestrians have the right to pursue compensation for various types of damages resulting from the accident. These can include:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes hospital bills, surgery, rehabilitation, prescription medications, and any necessary medical devices.
  • Lost Wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, you are entitled to compensation for lost income.
  • Pain and Suffering: This encompasses physical pain, emotional distress, and the overall impact of the accident on your quality of life.
  • Mental Anguish: The emotional toll of a pedestrian accident can be significant, leading to anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues.
  • Disfigurement: Severe injuries can result in permanent disfigurement, which can have a lasting impact on your self-esteem and overall well-being.

Impact of Pedestrian Actions on Compensation

It’s important to note that compensation can be influenced by the actions of the pedestrian. In cases where the pedestrian is found to be partially at fault, their compensation may be adjusted to reflect their contribution to the accident, following Texas’ modified comparative negligence laws.

Consulting with an Attorney

Given the intricacies involved in pedestrian accident cases, it’s highly advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence, and maximize the compensation you rightfully deserve. Their expertise is invaluable in ensuring your rights are protected, and your case is presented effectively.

Statute of Limitations

Statute of Limitations in Texas

In personal injury claims, including those arising from pedestrian accidents, the statute of limitations sets a vital legal deadline. In Texas, individuals have a two-year window from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. It is essential to understand this legal timeframe, as it plays a pivotal role in seeking compensation for your injuries.

The Importance of Adhering to the Two-Year Timeframe

Adhering to the two-year statute of limitations is paramount. Failing to file your claim within this timeframe can lead to the dismissal of your case, denying you the opportunity to seek the compensation you may be entitled to. Thus, it is crucial to act promptly, consult an attorney, and initiate the legal process without undue delay.

Consequences of Missing the Statute of Limitations

Missing the statute of limitations deadline has dire consequences. Once this window closes, you lose your legal right to pursue compensation. It doesn’t matter how clear-cut your case may be; the courts will likely reject it. Thus, understanding and respecting this deadline is absolutely vital for preserving your legal rights.

What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident 

Immediate Steps for Pedestrians After an Accident

  • Seek Medical Attention Promptly: Your health is the top priority. If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, even if you don’t think your injuries are severe, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away, and prompt medical evaluation ensures your well-being and provides documentation of injuries.
  • Report the Accident to Law Enforcement: Texas law requires that auto accidents be reported if they result in death, injury, or property damage of $1,000 or more. Contact the local authorities to report the accident and ensure that it is officially documented.
  • Document the Accident Scene and Gather Evidence: While at the accident scene, if you are physically able, document the scene using your phone’s camera, capturing vehicle positions, traffic signals, and any other pertinent details. Collect contact information from witnesses, if possible, and take notes on the sequence of events.
  • Consult with an Attorney: After the accident, it’s essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, help you gather evidence, and ensure your rights are protected. They can advise you on the best course of action and assist in seeking compensation.

Understanding Texas pedestrian laws and legal rights is crucial for anyone traversing the state’s roadways. By knowing your rights and responsibilities, you can navigate them safely. In the unfortunate event of a pedestrian accident, it’s paramount to act swiftly and responsibly, ensuring your health and gathering evidence. 

If you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian accident, seeking legal counsel is a wise decision. An attorney can be your advocate, helping you pursue the compensation you may deserve while safeguarding your rights in the legal landscape.

For a free consultation to see if you have a claim, call 855-LAW-NINJA, submit a contact form, or visit us in McAllen or San Antonio.

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