Accidents Involving Pedestrians: Texas Road Laws

Accidents Involving Pedestrians: Texas Road Laws

Traveling the busy streets of Texas exposes a clear and concerning reality: the state is known for being highly dangerous for pedestrians. Texas frequently ranks among the worst states in the country for pedestrian fatalities, with 629 deaths just in the year 2018. This highlights the need to look closely at the legal responsibility of drivers who fail to uphold pedestrian safety.

In areas where city and suburban environments blend, the often unfortunate interactions between pedestrians and vehicles require a deep understanding of the legal details. This insight helps to reveal the complexities of the liability, duty, and fairness of such actions.

What is the Definition of a Pedestrian?

A pedestrian is defined as any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting, or lying down. Essentially, the term “pedestrian” refers to individuals who are not using a motor vehicle for transportation. Typically, they are given certain rights and responsibilities regarding road usage and safety.

This legal definition helps establish the framework for pedestrian rights, duties, and interactions with motor vehicles on the state’s roadways.

What Happens When a Pedestrian Is Involved in a Vehicular Accident?

When a pedestrian is involved in a vehicular accident in Texas, several laws come into play to determine liability, responsibilities, and potential legal actions. Some key laws from the Texas Penal Code that apply include:

Right-of-Way Laws

  • Texas follows a right-of-way hierarchy that outlines who has priority at intersections and crosswalks. Drivers must give way to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, unless traffic lights say otherwise.

Negligence Laws

  • Texas uses a modified comparative negligence system, where both the pedestrian’s and driver’s gross negligence can affect who is responsible. If the pedestrian is mostly at fault for the accident, they may not receive any compensation for their injuries. This is applicable when the pedestrian is determined to be 51% or more at fault for the accident.

Jaywalking Laws

  • Pedestrians should use marked crosswalks and intersections whenever possible. Crossing outside designated areas, also known as jaywalking, does not absolve drivers from the responsibility of being cautious. However, pedestrians who choose to cross illegally may have fewer legal protections.

Distracted Driving Laws

  • Texas traffic laws prohibit drivers from using handheld devices while driving. If a driver’s distraction led to the accident, it could impact their liability.

Hit-and-Run Laws

  • Texas drivers involved in accidents are required to stop and provide necessary information and assistance to the affected parties. Fleeing the scene of an accident can lead to criminal charges.

Who is to Blame?

It is important to remember that in cases of severe negligence or recklessness, both the driver and the pedestrian could face criminal charges. These charges could be vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide if they result in the death of an individual. Overall, charges depend on the circumstances of the accident.

Pedestrians and drivers injured in vehicular accidents have the right to seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages through a civil lawsuit against the responsible driver.

Is a Bicyclist a Driver or a Pedestrian in Texas?

In Texas, a bicyclist is considered a driver, not a pedestrian, according to the Texas Transportation Code. This means that bicyclists are generally required to follow the rules of the road as motor vehicle drivers, including obeying traffic signals and signs, yielding the right-of-way when appropriate, and signaling their intentions when turning.

Potential Penalties

Depending on the severity of the accident, criminal charges can range from a class C misdemeanor to a state jail felony. Other circumstances, like the severity of a personal injury or the death of another person, would heighten these charges significantly. It would be of utmost importance for you to contact a criminal defense lawyer if you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

If you are facing criminal charges for causing an accident involving a pedestrian, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side. They can provide legal advice, guidance, and representation throughout the process. An experienced attorney will review your case, investigate the charges, and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your situation. They will negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf and safeguard your rights and interests in court.

A good lawyer can inform you about the potential consequences of being found guilty, such as imprisonment or fines. They can also explain the potential consequences of a conviction and work to minimize their impact on your life and future. Dealing with the criminal justice system can be complex and intimidating. However, having a criminal defense attorney can significantly improve the outcome of your case.