On the night of August 8, a visibly intoxicated woman in her 30s or 40s staggered into traffic on Bandera Road, being struck by a driver in a pickup truck who had been passing. He stopped to render aid, but she was taken to University Hospital with injuries that were described as ‘life-threatening.’ While in many situations, a driver who strikes a pedestrian will almost always be liable, it is cases like this where possible extenuating circumstances do exist.
The average layperson tends to think that pedestrian accidents are usually the fault of the driver, as pedestrians are smaller, have less protection in case of an accident, and move at a far slower rate of speed. Indeed, sometimes such accidents are caused by drivers, especially in states like Texas that have the highest speed limits in the country (which in turn breed higher potential for distracted driving, reckless behavior and the like – all common causes of traffic accidents).
However, there are times when a pedestrian accident is caused by the pedestrian. For the first time, the National Safety Council’s primer on pedestrian safety made a point to mention avoiding ‘distracted walking’ – walking and talking on one’s phone, or texting, because it is so likely to impact a person’s ability to safely navigate their surroundings. Alternatively, intoxicated pedestrians like the one on Bandera Road can cause accidents by unexpectedly stepping into traffic or otherwise grabbing a driver’s attention away from focusing on the road. Depending on the situation, either or both actors may be at fault for any given accident.
How to Determine Liability
In order to determine liability in a pedestrian accident, one must examine the four criteria that have to be shown to establish a negligence claim, which is the standard in most accident cases. You must be able to establish that the defendant (the person being sued) owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to the plaintiff – in Texas, this is stipulated most of the time, at least between motorists or between a motorist and a pedestrian. If a duty exists, you must be able to show that it was breached, and that specifically it was breached as a result of the defendant’s conduct, with no supervening cause.
If you are able to prove these factors, you must also be able to show that you, the plaintiff, suffered tangible harm. While this does not necessarily mean physical harm, it does mean that you must be able to show some type of harm that is longer-lasting than mere shock or cuts and bruises. If you are the driver, mere damage to your car is not enough – but if that damage demonstrably caused you severe distress, it might be. The driver on Bandera Road may suffer serious emotional harm from the accident, which could satisfy that part of a liability case.
Seek Experienced Legal Help Today
As of this writing, the injured pedestrian’s condition is not known, but regardless, the driver will likely experience psychological consequences. If you wind up in a similar position, consulting an experienced and compassionate attorney can make a huge difference in your life going forward. The dedicated New Braunfels pedestrian accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are ready, willing, and able to try and help you get through what can be a scary time in your life. Call us today to set up an appointment.