Car Driver & Pedestrian Duty of Care

The basic cause of action in many car accident personal injury cases is negligence. In pedestrian vs. driver car accident cases, the lawsuit usually centers upon the driver’s alleged negligence in operating the motor vehicle. In short, the pedestrian alleges that the driver owed a duty of care to the pedestrian and breached that duty of care through action or inaction that caused injury to the pedestrian. In detailing the elements for the negligence action the plaintiff and defendant must understand an underlying issue that arises in every pedestrian car accident case: what is the duty of care of the pedestrian and driver?

What does California law expect of a driver and a pedestrian?

Both the driver and the pedestrian are expected to exercise diligence in their actions under the law. However, drivers are expected to exercise greater care than pedestrians, because the act of driving comes with the possibility of injuring a person.

Does this mean that a pedestrian is not expected to exercise care under the law?

Not necessarily. The greater care expected of a driver does not mean that the pedestrian is exempted from exercising due care. A pedestrian who does not observe reasonable care may be guilty of contributory negligence. In a scenario involving comparative negligence, both parties are at fault. Comparative negligence reduces or extinguishes the liability for damages.

What does the expectation of greater care mean for the driver?

The expectation of greater care from car drivers has led to several duties that a driver must observe while driving. One example is the duty to sound their car horn when the circumstances demand. Another duty is to not overtake a stopped vehicle that had stopped to allow pedestrians to cross. Other duties expected of a driver include the duty to obey the rules of the road and to give adequate warning of the vehicle’s approach.

Published by Adam Garcia

I'm a bankruptcy attorney in Northern California. I help individuals in financial distress achieve a fresh start through bankruptcy.

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