Pedestrian accidents take hundreds of lives in Arizona each year. Most of these collisions are preventable with due care from drivers and pedestrians. Crosswalks should be safe spaces for pedestrians, yet they are often the scenes of tragic traffic accidents. In 2018, 245 pedestrians died and 1,537 suffered injuries in crashes in Arizona, according to state data. Understanding crosswalk laws and rights-of-way could help prevent deadly pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrians Have the Right-of-Way at Most Crosswalks
Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-792 states that crosswalks without traffic signals in Arizona give automatic pedestrian rights-of-way. Pedestrians will have the right to use crosswalks at unmarked intersections or crosswalks elsewhere on the road without yielding the right-of-way to vehicle traffic. However, pedestrians must stop and use reasonable care not to step off the curb in front of an oncoming vehicle, even at a crosswalk. A pedestrian cannot leave the curb if an oncoming driver does not have time to reasonably stop.
The rules are different, however, at marked crosswalks and intersections. Crosswalks with traffic control signals do not automatically grant pedestrians the right-of-way. Instead, pedestrians must wait until the signal tells them it is safe to cross. Pedestrians approaching the controlled crosswalk will not have to stop if the signal says it is safe to walk, typically with a walk sign or green light. If the crosswalk signal says to hurry or stop, however, the pedestrian must obey and yield to traffic.
A driver must stop at a crosswalk when a pedestrian is in his or her half of the roadway, or when the pedestrian is approaching from the opposite half closely enough to be in danger. A driver cannot pass a vehicle that has stopped for crossing pedestrians. It is against the law for a driver to ignore a pedestrian’s right-of-way while in a crosswalk. Doing so could put the pedestrian in danger. Turning left into a crosswalk with pedestrians when they have the right-of-way, for example, is an act of negligence that could lead to driver liability for injuries.
Liability for Pedestrian Accidents in Arizona
Drivers and pedestrians owe a duty to reasonably prevent accidents. Drivers should be extra cautious since they can do the most damage. Pedestrians should also look out for their own safety. Stepping off a curb when it is unsafe to do so could make the pedestrian liable for his or her injuries. The same is true if the pedestrian tries to cross the road somewhere other than a crosswalk or intersection (jaywalking). In many cases, however, the pedestrian is exercising his or her right-of-way when a driver causes an accident.
A driver could be liable for a pedestrian accident if he or she commits an act of recklessness, negligence or intent to harm. Rolling through a stop sign, running a red light, making an unsafe left turn, ignoring pedestrian rights-of-way, speeding, texting and driving, and other dangerous acts could point to driver liability.
The city and state governments have a duty to maintain safe intersections, roads and crosswalks. They must design reasonably safe pedestrian walkways and crosswalks. The governments must also regularly inspect for issues such as malfunctioning lights or obstructed signs. A defective road or dangerous design that contributes to a pedestrian accident could make the government liable.
A Part Manufacturer
Some pedestrian accidents result from defective products, such as a malfunctioning traffic signal or bad brakes on a vehicle. Injured victims may have product liability lawsuits against manufacturers in these situations.
Arizona is a comparative negligence state, meaning a pedestrian’s negligence will not strictly bar him or her from financial recovery. Even if the courts find the pedestrian somewhat at fault for the collision, the pedestrian could still receive a partial settlement or judgment award. The courts will reduce the pedestrian’s damages by an amount proportionate to his or her degree of fault. Many crash cases involve multiple defendants. If two or more parties are responsible for causing a pedestrian collision, they may share liability for the injury. To learn more about liability after a pedestrian accident, speak with our pedestrian accident lawyers in Phoenix during a free consultation.