Pedestrians Injured In An Austin Auto Accident Have Rights Under Texas Law
If you or a loved one was hurt in a pedestrian accident, the laws of Texas may allow you to recover monetary compensation for your injuries.
Auto accident lawsuits can be more complicated than they appear. It is also important to name all the responsible people and companies involved when seeking compensation.
That can include filing a lawsuit. But it may just mean negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. If you or your loved one was a pedestrian injured in an Austin auto accident, contact the personal injury law firm of Justinian & Associates. We offer a free consultation with an experienced Austin car accident attorney (not a “screener”.) Tell us your story, and we will patiently explain your rights and options under Texas law. No obligation.
Texas Auto Accident Liability Laws Apply To Pedestrians
In many cases, the driver who caused an Austin auto accident is personally responsible. In legal terms, that person is known as the at-fault driver. There are other people and companies that also may have to pay for your injuries:
At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
Texas is an at-fault state. That means the at-fault driver’s insurance company may be required to pay money for injuries that driver causes. You may be covered under the at-fault driver’s liability policy and entitled to payment.
Be cautious in speaking to the insurance company
Insurers are not evil, but they are businesses. Like all businesses, they try to increase profit, and will usually look to settle a claim quickly and for as little money as possible.
Insurance companies also will use your statements against you. Even if insurance adjusters you speak with are personally sympathetic, their job is to increase profits at the company by paying out the smallest possible settlement.
Before speaking with an insurance company, consider speaking with an Austin pedestrian accident attorney who can explain your rights under Texas law.
Employers of Drivers Who Cause An Accident On The Job
If the at-fault driver was operating the vehicle for work, the driver’s employer may also be legally responsible for accidents caused on the job. The employer (and the employer’s insurance) may have to compensate your injuries.
Anyone Who Manufactured, Maintained, Repaired Or Owned An Unsafe Vehicle
Sometimes auto accidents are caused by a mechanical problem. For example:
- A failure of power steering or the braking systems could lead to a devastating automobile collision.
- Because of a car’s broken turn signal, a pedestrian crossing the road might not see the driver is planning to turn into the crosswalk.
Deciding who is responsible in these cases can depend on how the mechanical failure occurred:
When an accident is caused by a defective product, the manufacturer of that product or its components (including vehicle replacement parts) may be responsible for accidents caused by the defect.
In an Austin auto accident lawsuit, that might include:
- Car / Truck Manufacturer
- Replacement Parts Manufacturer or Re-Seller
Under Texas law, automobile owners are required to maintain their vehicles in a safe condition. This includes replacing worn out parts like brake pads and tires. It also includes maintaining working lights (signals, headlamps, warning lights).
Vehicle owners should all comply with these laws. Proper vehicle maintenance can prevent many auto accidents caused by mechanical failures:
- Broken or defective headlights, tail lights and turn signals
- Worn or underinflated tires
- Steering malfunctions from worn components or misalignment
- Defective brakes or overly worn brake pads
- If you were driving in bad weather, even a defect like broken windshield wipers might be a factor in the accident.
The law requires that you maintain your automobile in a working and safe condition before driving. You should also be certain to check it is safe before lending the vehicle to anyone else.
If the vehicle is not in a safe condition, the vehicle’s owner may be responsible for accidents that happen as a result of the unsafe condition.
This can be true even if the owner was not driving.
Vehicles Maintained By Someone Other Than The At-Fault Driver
In many cases, at-fault drivers own their vehicles. They are also responsible for accidents caused by poor vehicular maintenance.
But sometimes the at-fault driver is driving a rented or borrowed vehicle.
Other at-fault drivers are operating an employer-owned vehicle. Even many professional 18-wheeler tractor trailer drivers and trucking companies rent the rig from another owner who maintains the vehicles.
The rental car agency or company that maintains the fleet of trucks may be responsible for accidents caused by improper maintenance of their vehicles.
Pedestrians Who Contribute To The Accident Might Not Receive Money For Their Injuries
Under Texas’ comparative fault rules (also known as proportional responsibility), passengers whose carelessness leads to their auto accident injuries may be blocked from recovering money for their injuries.
Pedestrians Have A Duty To Be Careful Under Texas Law
Drivers have a duty to exercise due care to avoid hitting pedestrians. This is true, even if the driver has the legal right-of-way.
However, pedestrians also owe a duty of care to drivers. Under the Texas Transportation Code, pedestrians can be negligent per se unless they:
- Obey Signals At Intersections
- Yield Right-Of-Way To All Vehicles When Crossing Without A Crosswalk
- Keep A Lookout For Their Own Safety
- Plata v. Gohman (1967)
In this case, a pedestrian was wearing dark clothing and walking in the street, even though there was room to walk on the side of the street.
The court determined the headlights of the approaching car must have been visible to the pedestrian, and still he did not take any measures to avoid being hit.
The court stated that the pedestrian contributed to the accident by failing to keep a proper lookout when he was struck from behind at night.
By not watching out, the pedestrian committed contributory negligence, and the defendant did not have to pay for plaintiff’s injuries.
- Plata v. Gohman (1967)
Texas Laws Of Contributory Negligence Can Apply To Pedestrians Injured In An Austin Auto Accident
Negligence is the legal term for carelessness. A pedestrian can also be negligent (not keeping a look out).
Pedestrians who are careless might be seen as contributing to the accident and their own injuries. Under Texas law, this is known as contributory negligence.
This might include:
- If the driver is clearly driving dangerously (at very excessive speeds), the passenger may have a duty to object and try to get the driver to slow down
- Passengers who willingly enter a vehicle with a driver they know is intoxicated (or discover during the ride that the driver is intoxicated), the passenger may have a duty to exit the vehicle when given the opportunity
Under the rules of comparative fault (also known as proportional responsibility under Texas law), people who are more than 51% at-fault (mostly responsible for the accident) cannot win a negligence lawsuit in Texas.
So pedestrians who contribute to an accident may not be able to recover money for their injuries.
The Dangers of Being A Pedestrian in Austin
Most of us are taught at an early age to look both ways before crossing the street. But even the most vigilant pedestrian can never prepare for the unexpected.
And unfortunately Central Texas and Austin can be dangerous places not only to drive, but to walk near an automobile:
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Texas has more drunk driving fatalities than any other state.
- Despite campaigns by the State of Texas to raise awareness about texting while driving, distracted driving continues to cause one out of every five car accidents in Texas.
Even alert and conscientious pedestrians in Austin can be hit by drivers who are:
- Negligent in the Maintenance of their Vehicles
- Speeding or Driving Recklessly
- Driving Carelessly Over a Sidewalk Or Curb
- Ignore pedestrians who have the right of way;
- Crossing Traffic Lanes / Crosswalks
- Violating Traffic Laws and Signs
- Unpredictable (Fail To Signal)
These types of ‘pedestrian vs. auto’ accidents often result in severe injury or even death. Even minor collisions between a small automobile and a pedestrian can be dangerous and lead to major injuries:
- Head injury or TBI (traumatic brain injury)
- Broken bones and bone fractures
- Painful or crippling bruising and contusions
- Back and neck injuries
- Skin injuries
- Catastrophic Spine Injuries (paralysis / paraplegia / quadriplegia)
Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accidents In Austin
Pedestrian accidents often have an element of “hit and run,” where the driver of the car flees rather than stopping to render aid and report the accident as required by law.
When the driver of the car or truck was uninsured or underinsured and hits a pedestrian, insurance aspects of the case can be tricky. The pedestrian may be eligible for monetary compensation through his or her own auto insurance, homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance, accident insurance or other sources.
For legal counsel after a pedestrian accident, contact Justinian & Associates. We offer a free consultation. Our lawyers can advise you of your rights in a pedestrian injury case and fight on your behalf.
Legal Help For Pedestrians Injured In An Austin Auto Accident
If you or your loved one was a pedestrian injured in an Austin auto accident, you may have rights to compensation.
But the uncomfortable truth is that recovering compensation for all your injuries can be difficult without filing a pedestrian accident lawsuit. Insurance companies generally seek to avoid paying out money whenever possible. When they do offer a settlement, it may not be enough to cover your actual damages.
However, the law may require that the driver who injured you (or that driver’s insurance company) pay you compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship (e.g., a spouse that is paralyzed)
- Wrongful death
Proving Your Auto Accident Case Can Be Difficult On Your Own
An even more uncomfortable truth is that filing (and winning) a pedestrian injury lawsuit in Texas can be very difficult to do without the assistance of an Austin personal injury attorney.
Even if you are only looking to get a fair settlement without a courtroom, you need to convince the insurance company (or person / company that injured you) that you have a strong case. That includes knowing:
- Rules of Evidence
- Rules of Tort Liability
- Texas Insurance Law
- How the Texas Legal System works
- State and Local Traffic Laws
- Automotive Engineering (in the case of mechanical failure)
- Collision Expertise
All of this can be difficult on your own.
But that’s why Justinian and Associates was founded. To fight for those who can’t.
Warriors For The Injured
Justinian Means Justice. And everyone at Justinian & Associates is focused on delivering justice to our injured clients, whatever that means for them.
We believe in our knowledge and skills, so we work on contingency. No matter how much work we do, we only get paid if our clients receive compensation.
If you were a pedestrian injured in an auto collision, then call, text or email us to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced Austin car accident attorneys (not a “screener” or paralegal).
If you are injured, we will come to you, wherever is convenient. Tell us your story, and we will explain your options under the law.