Comparative Negligence Law Guides Decision in Colorado
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation 2019 Problem Identification Report, pedestrian fatalities in the state increased by 84 percent from 2013 to 2017, and 17 percent from 2016 to 2017. In 2017, 92 Colorado pedestrian accident fatalities were reported, accounting for 14 percent of the 648 motor vehicle fatalities occurring that year. Vehicle speed was a factor in approximately 35 percent of all fatalities involving pedestrians in 2017.
Pedestrian and Driver Responsibilities
Just like the operators of motor vehicles, pedestrians have a duty to follow the rules of the road. Colorado pedestrians are required to:
- Cross the street at designated crosswalks (no exceptions).
- Yield to vehicles when crossing outside a marked crosswalk.
- Wait their turn to cross at intersections where traffic signals are present.
- Follow flashing “walk” and “don’t walk” signals.
- Refrain from suddenly leaving the curb and walking or running into traffic that is close enough to be considered a hazard.
Drivers are also required to exercise reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle. Some examples of a driver’s failure to use reasonable care include:
- Exceeding the posted speed limit
- Failing to abide by traffic signs and signals
- Not stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks
- Driving while preoccupied or distracted
- Failing to signal while turning
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In addition to the normal duty of care that Colorado drivers owe to all pedestrians, they owe a special duty of care to children while driving through a school zone, near a park, or through a residential area where children walk.
Why Jaywalking Is Unsafe
When pedestrians jaywalk (cross a street outside the crosswalk) they increase their risk of being injured. This is because drivers anticipate that pedestrians will be present at crosswalks and intersections, not crossing the street in the middle of a block. However, drivers who unexpectedly encounter a pedestrian are still legally obligated to do what they can to avoid a collision, although their options could be somewhat limited.
Drivers are generally held liable for any injuries they cause, with one exception: cases involving contributory negligence. According to Colorado’s comparative negligence law, if an injured person is 50 percent or more at fault for their own injury, they will not be eligible to recover any compensation. If they were 49 percent or less responsible for the accident, they can pursue compensation, although their award will be reduced in proportion to their own degree of fault.
Comparative Negligence and Pedestrians
Pedestrians who jaywalk or cross the street on a red light may well be considered contributorily negligent. A thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident will be necessary to make a determination. While a pedestrian who jaywalks and suffers an injury could be found at least partially at fault for his or her own injury, it is possible that the decision to cross outside of the crosswalk was justified, or the driver’s own negligence makes him or her somewhat responsible.
If you were hit by a car while crossing a street in Colorado, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.