Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were unsure about who had the right of way – you as a pedestrian or a driver? It can be confusing and potentially dangerous, especially if both parties are unaware of the laws and regulations regarding pedestrian right of way. In this blog post, we will explore the complex nature of the pedestrian right of way and why having a pedestrian accident attorney by your side is crucial if you find yourself in an unfortunate accident.


Definition of Right of Way

Right of way is a legal concept that refers to the priority given to specific individuals or vehicles to proceed in a particular situation, ensuring smooth traffic flow and road safety. In the context of pedestrians, the right of way ensures their safety and protection while crossing roads.

The Complexity of Pedestrian Right of Way

Pedestrian right-of-way laws can vary from state to state, making it challenging for pedestrians and drivers to navigate these regulations. While in some situations, pedestrians always have the right of way, there are scenarios where the responsibility lies with the driver. Let’s look closely at some common situations on the road and the corresponding right-of-way rules.

Crosswalks and Intersections

In most cases, pedestrians have the right of way when crossing at marked crosswalks or unmarked intersections. Drivers are legally obligated to yield to pedestrians in these areas.

Pedestrian Signals and Traffic Lights

When pedestrian signals are present, they dictate who has the right of way. When the signal displays a “walk” symbol, pedestrians can cross the road, and drivers must yield. However, when the signal displays a “don’t walk” symbol or a flashing hand, pedestrians should not enter or continue crossing the road, and drivers have the right of way. However, even if a pedestrian enters the roadway at this time, drivers are obligated to do all they can to prevent hitting them.


Jaywalking refers to the act of crossing the road outside a designated crosswalk or intersection. In many cases, jaywalking is illegal, and pedestrians do not have the right of way. However, laws regarding jaywalking vary by state, and in some areas, it may be legal to cross the road mid-block. Be familiar with local laws.

Right Turns

One particularly tricky situation arises when a driver is making a right turn at an intersection while a pedestrian is crossing the street. In most cases, the driver must yield to the pedestrian and allow them to cross before executing the turn.

Keep in mind that no matter the situation, motorists are always expected to take reasonable actions to prevent an accident. If you were involved in a pedestrian accident and think you, as a pedestrian, can be partly to blame, you should still consult with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. It’s likely that you still have a claim for damages, but you won’t know unless you speak to an attorney.

Factors that Can Impact Pedestrian Right of Way

Several factors can impact the determination of pedestrian right of way. Weather conditions, such as rain or snow, can affect visibility and may require both drivers and pedestrians to exercise extra caution. Traffic and pedestrian signals also play a significant role in determining the right of way. Other variables, such as the presence of traffic enforcement officers, school guards, or the use of crosswalk flags, can also impact the pedestrian’s right of way.

Pedestrian Right of Way in Specific Scenarios

While the general rules regarding pedestrian right of way apply in most situations, some scenarios may have additional complexities. For example, in school zones, drivers are required to exercise extra caution and yield to students who are crossing or waiting to cross the road.

In construction areas, there may be specific signs or instructions in place that dictate the right of way for pedestrians and vehicles. Drivers and pedestrians must pay attention to these signs and follow the instructions.

In crowded urban areas, pedestrians and drivers must navigate a dense environment with multiple potential hazards. Both parties must remain aware of their surroundings, exercise caution, and respect each other’s right of way to ensure everyone’s safety.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents are, unfortunately, a common occurrence on our roads, and they can have devastating consequences. Understanding the common causes of these accidents is key to preventing them and ensuring the safety of both pedestrians and drivers. Here are some of the most frequent causes of pedestrian accidents:

Distracted Driving

Driver yielding to pedestrians on the crosswalk.

One of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents is distracted driving. With the rise of smartphones and other electronic devices, drivers are more distracted than ever before. Whether texting, making a phone call, or checking social media, these distractions can take a driver’s attention away from the road and increase the likelihood of an accident.

A split second of inattention can have disastrous consequences for pedestrians crossing the street. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a pedestrian accident caused by a distracted driver, hire a personal injury attorney to understand your rights and seek compensation for your injuries.


Another significant cause of pedestrian accidents is speeding. When drivers exceed the speed limits, they have less time to react to unexpected situations, such as a pedestrian crossing the road. This can result in a catastrophic collision, causing severe injuries or even fatalities. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to stop quickly and increases the force of impact in the event of a crash.

Failure to Yield

Failure to yield is also a common cause of pedestrian accidents. Drivers are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections. However, some motorists fail to do so, putting pedestrians at risk. Failure to yield can have devastating consequences due to impatience, negligence, or a lack of awareness. If you are a pedestrian who has suffered an injury in an accident due to a driver’s failure to yield, seeking legal counsel can help protect your rights and hold the responsible party accountable.

Distracted driving, speeding, and failure to yield are among the leading causes of these accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident, seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney can provide you with the guidance and support needed to navigate the legal process and secure the compensation you deserve. Remember, you do not have to face the aftermath of a pedestrian accident alone.

Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Pedestrian accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe, life-altering conditions.

Here are some of the most common pedestrian accident injuries:

  • Fractures: Broken bones are one of the most prevalent injuries in pedestrian accidents. The impact between a vehicle and a pedestrian can cause fractures in different body parts, such as the arms, legs, hips, or ribs.
  • Head Injuries: Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to head injuries in accidents. Even a mild blow to the head can result in concussions, traumatic brain injuries, or more severe conditions that can have long-lasting effects on a person’s physical and cognitive abilities.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, the force of the impact can cause damage to the spinal cord. These injuries can range from mild to severe, leading to varying degrees of paralysis or loss of motor function.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Pedestrians involved in accidents often suffer from soft tissue injuries, such as sprains, strains, and contusions. These injuries can cause significant pain, swelling, and limited mobility.
  • Internal Injuries: The impact of a vehicle hitting a pedestrian can cause internal injuries, such as organ damage, internal bleeding, or ruptured organs. These injuries may not always be immediately apparent and can have severe consequences if left untreated.

Damages in a Pedestrian Accident

Being involved in a pedestrian accident can be a harrowing experience, leaving you with physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial burdens. If you’ve suffered an injury as a pedestrian due to someone else’s negligence, it’s crucial to understand your rights and the potential damages you may be entitled to. In this section, we will explore the various types of damages you can seek in a pedestrian accident case.

Medical Expenses

One of the first things that may come to mind after a pedestrian accident is the mounting medical bills. The injuries sustained in such accidents can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe fractures, spinal cord injuries, or traumatic brain injuries. Medical expenses can quickly add up, including costs for emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and ongoing medical care.

By retaining the services of an experienced attorney, you can pursue compensation for your medical expenses. Your attorney will work with medical professionals to assess your current and future medical needs, ensuring you receive the appropriate compensation to cover your medical bills.

Lost Income and Loss of Earning Capacity

Recovering from a pedestrian accident often involves a lengthy healing process, which may require taking time off work. Missing work can result in lost income, making it difficult to cover your everyday expenses, including rent, utilities, and groceries. Additionally, if your injuries have caused long-term or permanent disabilities, you may experience a loss of earning capacity, which can be devastating for your financial stability and future prospects.

In a pedestrian accident case, you can seek compensation for lost income and loss of earning capacity. Your attorney will work to demonstrate the impact of your injuries on your ability to work and earn a living. They will calculate the amount of income you have lost due to missed work and account for any potential future earnings you may have lost as a result of your injuries.

Pain and Suffering

Pedestrian accidents can result in significant physical pain and emotional suffering. Dealing with the aftermath of such an accident can cause anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions. The pain and suffering from the accident and its consequences should not be overlooked when seeking compensation.

While it is challenging to put a monetary value on pain and suffering, your attorney will use their experience and knowledge to quantify the emotional and physical toll the accident has taken on your life. They will consider factors such as the extent of your injuries, the duration of your recovery, the impact on your daily life, and any long-term consequences to help determine a fair compensation amount.

The Importance of a Pedestrian Accident Attorney

Even with a solid understanding of pedestrian right-of-way laws, accidents can still occur. Suppose you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident. In that case, seeking legal representation from a pedestrian accident attorney is essential. Here’s why hiring an attorney can make a significant difference in your case:

Pedestrian accident attorneys specialize in this area of law and have in-depth knowledge and experience dealing with these types of cases. They understand the intricacies of pedestrian right-of-way laws in your specific jurisdiction. They can navigate through the legal process with ease.

Investigation and Evidence Collection

A skilled pedestrian accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident, gather evidence, and interview witnesses to build a strong case on your behalf. They have access to resources and experts who can provide valuable insights and analysis, helping establish liability and ensuring all relevant evidence is presented.

Negotiation and Settlement

If the responsible party’s insurance company offers a settlement, having an attorney by your side can ensure you receive fair compensation. Pedestrian accident attorneys excel in negotiation and can advocate for your rights, ensuring that you are not taken advantage of by powerful insurance companies.

Litigation Support

In some cases, a fair settlement may not be possible, and litigation becomes necessary. With a pedestrian accident attorney representing you, you can rest assured that you have a strong advocate in the courtroom. They will handle all aspects of the litigation process, gather expert witnesses, and present a compelling case in front of the judge and jury.

Steven A. Bagen
Steven A. Bagen, Esq., Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Navigating through pedestrian right-of-way laws and dealing with the aftermath of a pedestrian accident can be overwhelming. If you need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact a trustworthy personal injury lawyer. They can provide you with the support and guidance you need during this challenging time. In fact, the right legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Don’t let a pedestrian accident dictate your future – let an attorney help you navigate the legal process and achieve a favorable outcome. They understand the complexities of pedestrian right-of-way laws. They will fight for your rights to ensure you receive your deserved compensation.