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Is a Driver Always at Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?

Updated: 3 days ago

pedestrians walking across crosswalk

Is a driver always at fault in a pedestrian accident? The short answer is no. As with any car accident, there are lots of factors that determine who or what caused the collision. It’s a common misunderstanding that pedestrians always have the right of way in Pennsylvania. It’s true that drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care, keep a proper lookout, and pay attention to their surroundings to avoid harming another person or another person’s property while driving. According to state law, pedestrians do have the right of way in marked crosswalks

Do Pedestrians Have the Right-of-Way in Pennsylvania? …It’s complicated, but, yes, drivers typically must yield to pedestrians.

Here is a Selection of Pedestrian Rules:

Right-of-Way of Pedestrians in Crosswalks – Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks at intersections and marked crosswalks at mid-block locations/trail crossings. The pedestrian must be “IN” the crosswalk. In other words, at least one foot off the curb with intent to cross the street. What’s a Crosswalk?

Exercise of Care by Pedestrian – Pedestrians must give motorists and bicyclists enough time and distance to yield without needing to make an emergency maneuver. Pedestrians cannot “dart out” into oncoming traffic.

Crossing at Signalized Intersections – At signalized intersections, pedestrians should cross only with a pedestrian “Walk” signal, or in its absence, in a parallel direction to a green light (meaning a red light controls traffic in the lanes being crossed by the pedestrian); in both cases having the right-of-way over vehicles turning into the lane being crossed by the pedestrian.

Pedestrians Crossing Not at Crosswalks – Pedestrians may cross between intersections without a mid-block crosswalk, but they do not have the right-of-way. Pedestrians may not cross between adjacent signalized intersections in urban districts (“jaywalking”).

Driveways and Alleys are treated as crosswalks. The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering a driveway must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the driveway.

When is a Pedestrian At Fault?

There are rarely any hard and fast “always” or “never” situations. Generally speaking, there are some things a pedestrian is prohibited from doing:

  1. Suddenly leaving a curb or other place of safety and either walking or running into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver of the vehicle to yield to the pedestrian.

  2. When sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for pedestrians to walk along and upon an adjacent highway.

  3. A pedestrian cannot cross an interstate highway, except in the case of an emergency.

Even still, vehicle drivers are required by law to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary. As such, there is a higher duty of care required of vehicle drivers than pedestrians. Depending on the situation, even if a pedestrian failed to follow the rules governing pedestrians, a driver could be found to be at fault for the accident for failing to exercise “due care."

Fiffik Law Group represents victims of pedestrian accidents involving vehicles.  Our attorneys are dedicated to providing clients and their families with passionate representation in court. We use every available resource at our disposal to get maximum compensation for our clients at trial or in a settlement. Nothing is more important to us than our clients. From the moment you contact our office, you are treated with the personal attention and respect you deserve.  Contact us for a free consultation about your case. 


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