Red Lights, Yellow Lights, Green Lights, and Intersection Pedestrian Accidents

by | Nov 22, 2021 | Car Accidents, Injuries

Most pedestrian accidents happen in non-intersections and outside marked crosswalks. But about a third of these incidents occur in crosswalks. Since pedestrians have no seat belts, airbags, or other protections, they usually sustain serious injuries in these situations.

The good news is that the pedestrian death rate is substantially lower in crosswalk accidents than it is in non-crosswalk accidents. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) is usually traveling slowly, unless s/he accelerates to try and make the light or is speeding through the intersection on green. The other good news is that, even if the pedestrian is crossing against the light, substantial compensation might be available.

This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Normally, a Lexington personal injury attorney is able to settle these claims out of court, and on victim-friendly terms.

Red Lights

If a pedestrian starts across the street when the light is red, and the light is still red at the moment of impact, the driver clearly has the right of way. However, regardless of the right of way, motorists still have a duty of reasonable care. This duty requires them to avoid accidents when possible.

Usually, the judge instructs jurors to divide fault on a percentage basis between the driver and pedestrian. That’s significant, because Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if a jury concludes that Julie was 99 percent responsible for the wreck because she crossed against the light, the driver is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages.

Yellow Lights

Legally, yellow light pedestrian accidents are the most complex crosswalk injury claims. Frequently, the pedestrian starts across the street on green, but cannot get to the other side before the light changes. That’s especially true if the street has more than two lanes and/or the victim has any significant mobility impairments.

Virtual crosswalks are a related issue. These crossings are always at non-intersections. When pedestrians press a button, flashing yellow lights activate. These yellow lights command motorists traveling in either direction to stop and yield to pedestrians.

However, many drivers ignore this command. That’s not surprising, because yellow lights usually mean “slow down” as opposed to “stop.” Furthermore, many pedestrians activate virtual crosswalks and then step into traffic without stopping and looking both ways.

So, the comparative fault rule usually comes into play in these claims. The sudden emergency defense could be a factor as well. This legal doctrine is basically an enhanced form of comparative fault. Comparative fault only reduces the amount of compensation the victim receives, at least in most cases. However, sudden emergency completely excuses negligent driving, like striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk. This defense has two elements:

  • Reasonable reaction to
  • A sudden emergency.

The second element is usually the most controversial one. Typically, insurance company lawyers claim that the victim “darted out into traffic” so the driver couldn’t avoid the wreck. But a jaywalking pedestrian is usually an everyday hazard as opposed to a sudden emergency. Most people see jaywalking pedestrians on every trip. A sudden emergency is something like a tire blow-out, hood fly-up, or another completely unexpected situation.

Maximum compensation is very important in yellow light pedestrian accidents. Speed multiplies the force in a collision, according to Newton’s Second Law of Motion. Pedestrians are especially sensitive to speed changes, since as mentioned, they have no safety systems to protect them.

Green Lights

Frequently, these claims are right-turn wrecks. Assume George approaches an intersection on red. Like most people, if he turns right, he slows down, looks to the left, and then turns. As a result, he does not see Gracie in the crosswalk to his right.

These claims are normally very straightforward. Pedestrians who are in a crosswalk on green clearly have the right-of-way. Furthermore, drivers who don’t see pedestrians in these situations clearly violate the duty of care. Therefore, maximum compensation is usually available.

Generally, attorneys can settle these claims with just a demand letter. That’s assuming the traffic light was working properly and there is no dispute as to the victim’s injuries.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. #goodelawyers