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Apr 2024

Pedestrian vs. Motor Vehicle

What You Should Know

By Kevin Souch and Zachary D’Amico

There is an inherent danger when motor vehicles and pedestrians are sharing the same space. Under the Highway Traffic Act, at s. 144, the responsibilities of pedestrians and drivers are set out in an attempt to make these shared spaces safer for all involved.

It would surprise no one to learn that vehicles and pedestrians are required and expected to follow a set of rules to avoid accidents and injuries. These rules include pedestrians obeying crossing lights, using designated crosswalks and using sidewalks which are taught to us at a young age to avoid dangerous situations. Likewise, drivers are also required to obey traffic signals and yield the right of way to pedestrians. If a driver wants to make a legal left or right hand turn at an intersection they must be mindful and yield to any pedestrians that are crossing at that intersection legally. In all instances where both a pedestrian and a vehicle are legally allowed to share the same space the vehicle must yield the right of way to the pedestrian.

What happens if you are a pedestrian and are struck by a motor vehicle? In all cases involving accidents resulting in injuries the most important thing is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early medical intervention is one of the strongest predictors of a positive future outcome in recovering from any injuries. If you have suffered serious injuries it is advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about your rights and options moving forward.

In Ontario, and most jurisdictions in Canada, we operate on a “no fault” insurance regime. Essentially this means that your own auto insurer is responsible for paying for treatment that is considered reasonable and necessary and that fits within the available monetary limits. This is known as the Accident Benefits claim. These benefits are available regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

What happens if you are an injured pedestrian and do not have access to an automobile insurance policy? In this instance you can look to the insurer of the vehicle that was involved in the collision to make your claim for Accident Benefits and apply to that driver’s insurer. If the driver is not insured or leaves the scene and is not identified you can make a claim to the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund for benefits. There should not be a situation where there are no benefits available.

If you are a pedestrian injured by a motor vehicle you may also have the right to make a claim against the driver, and possibly owner, of the vehicle involved in the accident. This is done by way of a law suit. In order to be successful with such a claim you must show some negligence on the part of the driver or owner and your injuries must meet a minimum threshold. Accidents involving pedestrians are different than accidents involving two motorists. For the most part, the driver of a motor vehicle that collides with a pedestrian is often assumed to be at fault. It is up to the driver to establish that they were not negligent. The driver can do this by showing that the accident was unavoidable due to the pedestrian’s actions.

Liability and negligence can be quite complicated in motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians. Even if the pedestrian did not follow the rules of the road they may still have a valid claim going forward. Many cases where the pedestrian may have been crossing against the light, or “jaywalking” have resulted in favourable outcomes for the pedestrian. If you have been injured as a pedestrian it is important to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether you may be able to make a claim.