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Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Published on Jul 2, 2024 by Thomas Law Offices.

There are over 2,716,450 people who call the Windy City home, according to the City of Chicago. This is a city that teems with traffic and pedestrians who share miles of streets and roads. The hope is that everyone gets to where they’re going safely. To make that happen, everyone needs to be aware and cautious. But do pedestrians always have the right of way? It depends on the circumstances.

According to recent data collected by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the rate of pedestrian fatalities dropped below the national average in 2022 to just 1.5 per 100,00. The leading causes for these types of accidents are speeding, drunk driving, and not yielding to pedestrians who have the right of way. It is important for motorists and anyone walking or jogging across streets to know the rules of the road.

When Drivers Must Yield

Motorists and pedestrians share the streets. They also share in the responsibility to be aware of their environment. As a default, a driver should always be prepared to give pedestrians the right of way. There are many circumstances when a driver must come to a complete stop for a pedestrian. Here is the list:

  • Whenever there is a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk
  • On school days, when students are in school crosswalks
  • If the “walk” signal is illuminated
  • Turning at any intersection
  • When a pedestrian is already in a crosswalk with the “wait/do not walk” signal flashes

Drivers don’t have to stop if a pedestrian is approaching or already waiting at the curb.

When Pedestrians Must Yield

Although pedestrians predominately have the right of way, there are specific scenarios where they must yield to oncoming traffic. This is when a pedestrian needs to stop:

  • When there is a red light or flashing “wait/do not walk” sign at a marked or unmarked crosswalk
  • Attempting to cross a street in between crosswalks
  • Any time an emergency vehicle is approaching

It is also incumbent upon pedestrians not to dash out into traffic and assume an approaching car will be able to stop in time.

What Happens If You’re Hit by a Car

If you’re hit by a car, the priority is to seek medical attention. Even if you feel good in the moment, you could experience a delayed reaction. That is why you should get checked out by a medical professional ASAP. You must call 9-1-1 for a police response and report.

If the motorist who struck you leaves the scene, that would be considered a hit-and-run. In that scenario, you should immediately write down or record a video of what you remember about the car and driver.

When the motorist does not leave the scene, you’ll want to get their contact numbers, including their insurance information. At this point, you need to start keeping a record of all your out-of-pocket expenses. Those can include the following:

  • ER costs
  • Doctor’s follow-up care
  • Medical supplies such as crutches, braces and slings
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

There could be a dispute about who needed to yield in the accident that might jeopardize reimbursement from the driver’s insurance carrier. At that point, reaching out to a legal team that understands the nature of this type of accident is essential. The Thomas Law Offices can become your advocate to negotiate with an insurer after you’re hit on your behalf.

Understanding Your Options

You do not have to wait until you completely heal from being struck by a car before you contact an attorney. The lawyers at the Thomas Law Offices can help you understand all the options, starting with the initial offer from an insurance company. Depending on the nature of your injury, you might also have to factor in future support. We can help you with those calculations.

If the initial offer is unfair, we might recommend moving to a lawsuit. We will provide you with the information to help you make the right decision about the best way to resolve this matter. That process begins with a free case evaluation. Call to set up that consultation today.


Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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