Accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles as well as the personal injury claims that ensue typically hinge on what is known as the “Duty of Care” based on those parties that are involved. Interestingly enough, there are certain rules of the road that apply to those on foot as well as motorists in that they both must exercise reasonable care. In many cases, negligence is obvious. However, there are certain factors that the court and your personal injury lawyer will have to consider.
The Duty of Care
While motorists must exercise reasonable care when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle, pedestrians are also responsible for their own personal safety. Personal injury lawyers are very familiar with the concept of negligence which typically arises when motorists fail to exercise reasonable care. Furthermore, negligence is attributed to a number of factors including:
· disobeying traffic signals and signs
· distracted or impaired driving
· driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
· failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk
· having a disregard for traffic or weather conditions
· not using one’s turn signals
· recklessness or speeding
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are less visible because they are smaller and are oftentimes unpredictable in their actions. Consequently, motorists must exercise a greater degree of care in school zones and when they know that children are playing in the area. Additional caution should be taken when driving by parks, residential areas, and especially school zones.
Since pedestrians are also responsible for their own safety, they must also exercise reasonable care lest they be charged with contributory negligence. Some of the more common contributory factors involved in pedestrian negligence include darting out in front of traffic, disrupting the flow of traffic, failure to use crosswalks, and ignoring “walk” signals. According to Provincial law, “the care required must be proportionate to the danger that must be avoided.”
The most Vulnerable Age Group
In Ontario Province, the most vulnerable age groups involved in motorist/pedestrian accidents are school-aged children, specifically those between the ages of 5 and 9. Although the statistics for 2016 have not been published yet, there were 20 school-aged children who were killed the year before by school buses alone. This does not take into account those that were badly injured or killed on city streets. Many of such accidents lead to limited mobility and disabilities due to the injuries sustained in such accidents.
In the 20 school crossing cases, the bus driver was proven to be at fault. However, there are other entities and individuals that could be held responsible, depending on the circumstances involved. This could include bus manufacturers, bus owners, component manufacturers, local government, transportation companies, and more. Finally, it is not uncommon for personal injury lawyers to see cases involving inadequately trained bus drivers or where the driver was fatigued or impaired in some way.