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Learn the laws you should be familiar with as a pedestrian in the Show-Me State
Walking has all sorts of benefits. Traveling by foot is better for your health and finances, and for the environment.
On the flip side, there are more cars than ever on the road and the cars are BIGGER than ever before. Add to that the fact that people are increasingly using their smartphones while driving and it’s clear that being a pedestrian comes with some risks.
If you’re a pedestrian in Missouri (or if you’re a driver who wishes to avoid being sued in a pedestrian accident), it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the laws that impact pedestrians in the Show-Me State.
How common are pedestrian accidents in Missouri?
Fatal pedestrian accidents have increased sharply over the last 10 years in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), pedestrian accidents have increased 51% since 2009 and accounted for 17% of all crash fatalities in 2019.
Unfortunately, the rise of fatal pedestrian accidents in Missouri has been almost as dramatic.
Of course, not all pedestrian accidents are fatal.
Here’s a look at pedestrian accidents by severity in 2019:
|Missouri pedestrian crashes (2019)|
|Fatal crashes||Injury crashes||Property damage only crashes||Total crashes|
What laws impact pedestrians in Missouri?
When you’re on a public road in Missouri, there are certain laws you must follow. This is true whether you’re driving a car, operating a bicycle, or traveling the road on your own 2 feet.
The vast majority of laws that directly impact pedestrians can be found in Chapter 300 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.
Let’s take a look at a few of the laws impacting pedestrians that all Missourians should be familiar with:
- A pedestrian must not suddenly leave a curb and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it’s impossible for the vehicle to stop. (RSMo § 300.375(2)).
- A pedestrian must travel on the right half of the crosswalk whenever possible. (RSMo § 300.380).
- A pedestrian must yield to a vehicle unless the pedestrian is crossing the road at a marked crosswalk or at an intersection. (RSMo § 300.390).
- A pedestrian must not cross the road between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation unless there’s a crosswalk. (RSMo § 300.395).
- A pedestrian must not walk along a roadway if a sidewalk is present. (RSMo § 300.405).
- The driver of a vehicle must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the road upon which the vehicle is traveling or when a pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite side of the road as to be in danger. (RSMo § 300.375(1)).
- When a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear must not pass the stopped vehicle. (RSMo § 300.375(4)).
- A driver must exercise the highest degree of care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian. (RSMo § 300.410).
How is a pedestrian compensated for their injuries?
If a pedestrian is injured in an accident with a motor vehicle, there are 2 ways in which the pedestrian may recover damages:
- File an insurance claim against the driver, or
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
In either situation, the pedestrian needs to prove that the driver was legally at fault for the accident. In most cases, proving legal fault means establishing the elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed the pedestrian a duty to exercise reasonable care,
- The defendant breached the duty to exercise reasonable care, and
- The defendant’s breach caused the pedestrian’s injury.
Should I file an insurance claim OR hire a personal injury attorney?
Initial consultations with an attorney are typically free. For that reason, we generally recommend meeting with a personal injury attorney following a pedestrian accident. Regardless, there are a couple of situations in which we strongly recommend meeting with a personal injury attorney before filing an insurance claim or accepting an insurance settlement offer:
- You suffered physical injuries, and/or
- Fault is contested.
The specific types of damages available in a Missouri pedestrian accident include:
- Economic damages represent the monetary losses caused by your accident (e.g., medical expenses, lost wages, property damage).
- Non-economic damages represent the non-monetary losses caused by your accident (e.g., pain and suffering, loss of consortium).
How long does a pedestrian have to file a lawsuit in Missouri?
Every state limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit following an accident. This time limitation is called the “statute of limitations.”
The statute of limitations is intended to prevent plaintiffs from threatening defendants with lawsuits indefinitely and to ensure that important evidence is still available at the time of the lawsuit.
From a plaintiff’s perspective, Missouri has one of the most generous statutes of limitation.
In Missouri, you have 5 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
The 5-year statute of limitations may be shortened or extended in a couple of narrow situations. For example:
- If the pedestrian was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, the 5-year clock typically won’t start running until the pedestrian turns 18.
- If the pedestrian wishes to sue a state or government employee (e.g., a public bus driver or post office worker), the pedestrian must provide proper notice within 90 days of the accident.
It’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to make sure you file your claim timely.
What steps should a pedestrian take following an accident?
We understand that a personal injury lawsuit isn’t going to be your first concern following a serious pedestrian accident. Nevertheless, there are a few simple things you can do (or have a nearby friend or family member do) in the moments following a pedestrian accident that may help you recover the damages you deserve:
- Get medical treatment. If you’re involved in a pedestrian accident, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some symptoms don’t appear for days or even weeks after an accident, so it’s a good idea to get checked out even if you don’t think you suffered a serious injury. What’s more, insurance adjusters and juries are generally skeptical of accident claims in which the plaintiff did not seek immediate medical attention.
- Call the police. The police can conduct a brief investigation and draft a police report that may help support your legal claim. What’s more, the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident is less likely to be uncooperative with the police.
- Collect the contact information of anyone involved in the accident. If a driver was involved in the accident, be sure to get their insurance information as well.
- Gather evidence. Collect the contact information of any witnesses at the scene. Don’t forget about people who may have seen the accident from the windows of a nearby building. It’s also a good idea to take photographs or videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any property damage.
- Avoid social media. Avoid posting any information about the accident on your social media platforms. Posting about an accident on social media can hurt your legal claim.
- Talk to an attorney. Even if you don’t think you have a case, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney. Most initial consultations are free and an experienced attorney will be able to tell you whether your case is worth pursuing.
If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident and wish to speak to an attorney, you can find an experienced Missouri personal injury attorney using our free online legal directory.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.