Walking is one of the healthiest ways to get around, get a new perspective, and exercise one’s muscles. But depending on where you’re walking, there may be an elevated risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. As a pedestrian in Massachusetts, one way that you can reduce your risk of a crash is to understand your rights and obligations related to marked and unmarked crosswalks. Here’s an overview of what you need to know, as well as your rights if you are struck by a car.
The Rights of a Pedestrian
You may assume that as a pedestrian in Massachusetts, you always have the right of way. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case at all. In fact, pedestrians only have the right of way when:
- A traffic light indicates that a pedestrian has the right to proceed through the crosswalk (a WALK signal is displayed); and
- Traffic control signals are not in place but the pedestrian is crossing a roadway within a marked crosswalk (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 89, Section 11).
Vehicles are also required to yield to pedestrians when they are crossing illegally and are already within the intersection/roadway, such as crossing without a light indicating that they can do so or jaywalking. However, this does not mean that the driver will be found 100 percent responsible if a crash happens as a result of a pedestrian crossing illegally.
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge pedestrians’ rights in unmarked crosswalks. Massachusetts law holds that no pedestrian shall cross a roadway at a place other than a marked crosswalk when there is a marked crosswalk within 300 feet. A pedestrian is also not allowed to suddenly leave a sidewalk, enter the path of a vehicle, or walk along a road when a sidewalk is available. If a pedestrian is crossing at any point other than a marked crosswalk, they shall yield the right of way to any vehicles on the roadway.
Who’s Liable for a Pedestrian Accident?
Liability for a pedestrian accident depends on fault. If a pedestrian accident occurs in a marked crosswalk where the pedestrian clearly had the right of way and was crossing lawfully, then the driver will most likely be found to be 100 percent liable for the damages that result. On the other hand, if there is nothing that a driver could have reasonably done to prevent the accident — such as may be the case if a pedestrian steps off the sidewalk into the immediate path of a vehicle — then the pedestrian could be held responsible for damages.
Shared Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
In some cases, fault is shared in a pedestrian accident between the driver and the pedestrian. Consider a situation in which a pedestrian is crossing in an unmarked crosswalk and the driver would have seen the pedestrian and had time to stop and avoid the collision but for the fact that they were distracted while driving. In this case, both the driver’s negligence and the pedestrian’s negligence per se (breach of law or statute) contributed to the crash.
Call Our Pedestrian Accident Attorneys Today
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, your life may be forever changed. Attorney Deborah Gold-Alexander has over 30 years’ experience working on pedestrian accident claims and advocating for her clients. For your free consultation, please call our law firm today or send us a message online telling us more about your accident.