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What Happens When a Pedestrian is Walking Outside a Crosswalk and Gets Hit by a Car?

Last updated: October 26, 2021

Delaware Pedestrian Accident Prevention Laws

Under Delaware law, pedestrians walking outside of a crosswalk or walking in an unmarked crosswalk must yield the right-of-way to cars, trucks and buses on the road. In addition, Delaware law prohibits pedestrians from crossing a street outside of a crosswalk – between intersections which are controlled by traffic lights. Delaware law also prohibits pedestrians from crossing roads diagonally. These duties are spelled out in 21 Delaware Code § 4143 – Crossing at other than crosswalks:

(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
(d) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices; and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.

Liability/Fault for Pedestrian Accidents Outside Crosswalks

In situations when a pedestrian is crossing a street outside of a crosswalk and gets hit by a car, the pedestrian may be able to seek compensation from the driver by filing a pedestrian-car accident lawsuit in Delaware, if the driver was negligent in some manner, i.e., speeding, looking down at their cell phone, etc..

Liability in pedestrian accident cases depends on the facts and circumstances relating to the accident, such as:

  • time of day (nighttime versus daylight),
  • type of street (residential versus commercial),
  • posted speed limit, and
  • pedestrian-plaintiff’s familiarity with the street.

Even though Delaware law gives the right-of-way to cars when a pedestrian is crossing the street outside of a crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk, drivers must still exercise due care. Under 21 Delaware Code § 4144, drivers must exercise due care to avoid hitting pedestrians and are required to take extra steps to avoid hitting children or incapacitated persons. For instance, when a child is crossing the street, drivers must take reasonable steps to avoid hitting them, such as sounding the car horn.

Comparative Negligence in Delaware Car-Pedestrian Accident Cases

Under Delaware car-pedestrian accident and injury law, a pedestrian can be found negligent for causing an accident. In order for a pedestrian who was hurt in a car-pedestrian accident to recover any compensation, their negligence cannot be greater than the negligence of the defendant, the person/driver who caused the accident. This is Delaware’s comparative negligence principle – in a given accident case, the parties’ negligence is compared and assigned accordingly. The pedestrian-plaintiff could be 50% negligent and still recover, but if the plaintiff’s negligence is 51% or greater, then he or she is unable to recover at all.

In situations when a pedestrian is walking outside of a crosswalk, the comparative negligence principle will almost always come into play. In some cases, and again, depending on the circumstances, a pedestrian whose actions show a wanton disregard for his or her own safety may be barred from recovering from the driver. For example, a drunk pedestrian who crosses a busy street, outside of the marked crosswalk, may be barred from recovering from a driver in a car-pedestrian accident case.

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Since 1982, firm founder Martin Knepper has served residents of Delaware in all personal injury matters, including pedestrian accidents, car accidents and truck accidents. Contact our car accident lawyers today and ask for a free consultation. (302) 658.1717

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