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Understanding the laws that impact pedestrian accidents in the Buckeye State
Walking has been linked to increases in cardiovascular fitness, stronger bones, and a reduction in excess body fat. Walking has even been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers.
In Ohio, the 7th most populous state and the home of more than 100 colleges and universities, walking is commonplace. Unfortunately, recent changes in the law have made it easier for pedestrians to be found at fault in the event of a collision.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know when you put on your walking shoes in the Buckeye State.
Pedestrian injury statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a pedestrian is killed roughly every 88 minutes in the United States. In 2018, 6,283 pedestrians were killed in pedestrian accidents—the most deaths since 1990.
In Ohio, 133 pedestrians were killed in 2018. The number of fatalities has been rising, a trend which some attribute to the increased popularity of SUVs and smartphones. The vast majority of pedestrian accidents in Ohio occurred when the pedestrian was crossing an intersection.
|Pedestrian-related traffic crash statistics in Ohio (2013-2018)|
|Source: Ohio Department of Public Safety|
Ohio pedestrian right-of-way laws
Right-of-way laws address when a pedestrian is required to yield the right of way to a driver and when a driver is required to yield the right of way to a pedestrian.
Failure to yield the right of way often leads to accidents. When there’s an accident, the party who failed to yield the right of way is generally at fault.
Under Ohio Revised Code 4511.46, a driver must yield the right of way in the following situations:
- When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the road within a crosswalk.
- Whenever a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the road, the driver of another vehicle approaching from the rear must not pass the stopped vehicle.
- The driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.
Under Ohio Revised Code 4511.48, a pedestrian must yield the right of way in the following situations:
- Every pedestrian crossing a road at any point other than a marked crosswalk or an intersection must yield the right of way to all vehicles.
- Any pedestrian crossing a road at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided must yield the right of way to all vehicles.
- Pedestrians must yield the right of way to any vehicle that’s part of a funeral procession.
- Pedestrians must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles (ambulance, police cruisers, etc.) approaching with their lights flashing and/or siren sounding.
What about blind pedestrians?
Ohio Revised Code 4511.47 requires that drivers always yield the right of way to blind pedestrians who are guided by a guide dog or carrying a predominantly white or metal cane.
The right-of-way laws above don’t relieve pedestrians or drivers of their duty to exercise due care to avoid a collision. In other words, just because a driver has the right of way, doesn’t mean the driver can intentionally collide with a pedestrian. Similarly, a pedestrian can’t leap in front of a vehicle when it’s clear the vehicle is not going to yield to the pedestrian.
Other Ohio laws impacting pedestrians
Most pedestrian accidents are the result of a pedestrian or driver failing to yield the right of way. However, there are some other Ohio laws impacting pedestrians that both pedestrians and drivers should know about:
- Operators of motorized wheelchairs have all the rights and duties applicable to pedestrians
- Pedestrians are required to obey the instructions of all traffic control devices
- Pedestrians under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, are prohibited from walking on a highway
- Pedestrians must walk, whenever possible, along the right half of crosswalks
- When a sidewalk is available and its use is practicable, pedestrians must not walk on the adjacent road
- Hitchhiking is strictly prohibited
Determining fault in a pedestrian accident
All drivers have a legal duty to drive with reasonable care and to obey all traffic laws. If a driver violates these duties and causes an accident, the driver can be sued for negligence.
Similarly, all pedestrians have a duty to exercise reasonable care while navigating the roads and to obey all traffic laws. If a pedestrian violates these duties and causes an accident, the pedestrian can be sued for negligence.
Learn more about negligence in personal injury lawsuits, including how to prove negligence.
What happens if a driver and pedestrian are both at fault for an accident?
Under Ohio’s modified comparative fault theory, the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover is reduced by a percentage that reflects the plaintiff’s degree of fault. However, if the plaintiff’s degree of fault is 51% or more, they are prohibited from recovering any damages.
Let’s look at an example:
Jillian can see that Billy isn’t slowing down, but she feels she has the right to cross, so she defiantly steps into the road.
Billy crashes into Jillian and she suffers a serious hip injury. Jillian sues Billy for $100,000.
The court finds that Billy is 80% at fault for failing to yield to Jillian at the crosswalk. However, the court also finds that Jillian is 20% at fault for failing to exercise due care to avoid a collision. Under Ohio’s modified comparative fault rule, Jillian would only be able to recover $80,000.
Damages available in a pedestrian accident
Pedestrians aren’t protected by steel frames and airbags like drivers. As a consequence, pedestrians often suffer serious injuries when hit by a motor vehicle.
Some of the most common pedestrian injuries include:
Ohio awards both economic and non-economic damages in pedestrian accident cases.
Economic damages are tangible losses that come with a price tag (medical bills, property damage, lost wages, etc.). Non-economic damages refer to losses that don’t have a clear dollar value (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc.).
If a loved one is killed in a pedestrian accident, certain family members can recover damages associated with the loss by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
How insurance companies handle pedestrian accidents
If you’re an injured pedestrian, you can file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver. Fortunately, Ohio requires drivers to carry liability insurance.
Once you file an insurance claim, you’ll probably be contacted by an insurance adjuster. Be aware that the insurance adjuster is working for the driver’s insurance company and is trying to determine if you may have been at fault or partially at fault for the accident. If the insurance adjuster believes you were at fault or partially at fault, they may deny your claim or offer a reduced settlement.
If your claim is denied or you receive a settlement below what you think your claim is worth, then it’s time to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney near you.
What to do after a pedestrian accident in Ohio
We know pedestrian accidents are traumatic. After an accident, do your best to take a deep breath and consider the following:
- Safety first. If you’ve been seriously hurt, call an ambulance or have someone call an ambulance for you (drivers are required to stop and render reasonable aid in Ohio). Even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously hurt, it’s important to see a doctor. Some symptoms don’t appear until hours or even days after an accident.
- Exchange contact information. Pedestrians and drivers are required to exchange contact information with each other after an accident. Be sure to get the driver’s name, address, registration number, and driver’s license number.
- Call the police. The police can help you get the information you need from the driver. In addition, the police can draft a report which may help support your insurance claim or lawsuit.
- Gather evidence. If you’re able to do so safely, take photographs of the scene and any injuries you suffered. Additionally, look for witnesses and gather their contact information.
- Contact an attorney. In Ohio, you only have 2 years to file a lawsuit after a pedestrian accident. This might seem like a long time, but an attorney will need time to investigate your case, gather evidence, and draft the required pleadings before they can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Still have questions? Need help dealing with the insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit? Consider using the free Enjuris Lawyer Directory to locate an attorney in your area.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.