Here at Wiener and Lambka, PS, we have extensive experience in handling pedestrian claims. We’ve handled claims for persons struck in crosswalks, out of crosswalks, in parking lots, and on bicycles.
Pedestrian law in Washington is more complicated than most people would think. While in general, the laws are what one would expect, the biggest difference is the understanding that pedestrians rarely have an absolute legal right to a place on the roadway. In most situations there are duties for both driver and pedestrian. We will be discussing the duties of pedestrians and drivers by reviewing jury instructions that have been crafted over the years by referencing Washington statutes and cases.
WPI 70.01 General Duty—Driver or Pedestrian
It is the duty of every person using a public street or highway [whether a pedestrian or a driver of a vehicle] to exercise ordinary care to avoid placing [himself or herself or] others in danger and to exercise ordinary care to avoid a collision.
Drivers have various duties depending upon the situation, but the main duty of drivers is very simple, that of continuous observation.
WPI 70.03.01 Driver Approaching a Crosswalk—Duty to Observe
The driver of a vehicle approaching a crosswalk has a duty of continuous observation.
Some people do not realize that pedestrians also have duties. There are cases on the subject that introduce the idea of “zone safety” that exists for a pedestrian before they enter the street.
WPI 70.03.03 Duty of a Pedestrian Before Entering a Crosswalk
Before entering a crosswalk, a pedestrian has a duty to look for approaching vehicles. A statute provides that no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.
There have been examples of someone colliding into the side of a vehicle while running or bicycling. In this instance, there is no fault to the driver as the pedestrian left their “zone of safety” without checking that they were clear to do so. Even were the pedestrian to take several steps into the street, the driver would likely not be at fault if the pedestrian put themselves in the way of the vehicle. The driver must have reasonable reaction time to stop for the pedestrian in order for them to be considered negligent in the collision.
Once safety is ascertained and the pedestrian leaves the “zone of safety,” they no longer need to look for approaching vehicles. While this may be advantageous in tort law, I would suggest not following it literally. Just because some is required by law to act in a specific way does not mean you should rely on that happening and not take precautionary measures to protect yourself. However, as Washington law states, a pedestrian has complete right of way in a crosswalk, once safety has been established.
WPI 70.03 Right of Way of a Pedestrian Within a Crosswalk
A pedestrian within a crosswalk has the right to assume that all drivers of approaching vehicles will yield the right of way to the pedestrian. This right continues until the pedestrian knows otherwise or until surrounding circumstances should have alerted the pedestrian to the fact that an approaching vehicle is not going to yield the right of way to the pedestrian. Absent such circumstances, a pedestrian within a crosswalk has no duty to look for approaching vehicles.
WPI 70.03.02 Driver Approaching a Crosswalk—Duty to Stop
A statute provides that the driver of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is [upon the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning] [either upon, or within one lane of, the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning].
In downtown Seattle it may seem as though pedestrians own the street, as they act as though they have the right of way at all times. This is inaccurate. The driver is not at fault, barring negligence such as speeding, were a pedestrian to be struck in the middle of the road. As established before, it is prudent for both driver and pedestrian to avoid any sort of collision. Being in the right can lead to a legal claim face compensation for injuries, but money cannot compensate for catastrophic injuries that can result from such instances.
WPI 70.03.04 Pedestrian Crossing a Roadway Outside of a Crosswalk
A statute provides that a pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a crosswalk shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
Another important thing to understand is what a driver’s duties are when someone is using the crosswalk. RCW 46.61.235 defines the duty of drivers in this way:
(1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.
(2) No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.
(3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply under the conditions stated in RCW 46.61.240(2).
(3) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.
(5)(a) If a person is found to have committed an infraction under this section within a school, playground, or crosswalk speed zone created under RCW 46.61.440, the person must be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. The penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended.
(b) Fifty percent of the moneys collected under this subsection must be deposited into the school zone safety account.
Washington law does define what a crosswalk is. Once more we will be using the pattern jury instruction to explain the definition.
WPI 70.03.05 Crosswalk—Definition[A marked crosswalk means any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway.] [A crosswalk exists at every intersection of roadways, regardless of whether the roadway is marked with crosswalk lines. The crosswalk is an extension of the existing curbing and sidewalks. The width of the crosswalk is from the curbing to the farthest edge of the sidewalk. The crosswalk extends across the roadway to the opposite side curbing and sidewalk.] [A crosswalk exists at every intersection of roadways, regardless of whether the roadway is marked with crosswalk lines. An intersection is defined as the area where roadways meet and vehicles traveling upon the different roadways may collide. The crosswalk extends across the roadway at the same angle as the roadways meet. The crosswalk is 10 feet wide. It begins at the edge of the intersection and extends 10 feet back from the intersection. [Existing curbing defines the edge of the intersection.]]
Please note that that there is a crosswalk in existence at every intersection of roadways even when there are no marketings on the roadway. What this means is that there is an implied crosswalk anywhere two roads intersect, especially when there are no traffic control devices. While it would be imprudent for every driver in every situation to stop for any pedestrian in these circumstances, it would be equally imprudent to not be ready to stop for pedestrians at each corner and to be prepared to stop behind any other driver who might stop at an intersection to allow pedestrians the right of way.
In Washington, drivers have a duty to not leave the scene of an accident. It is a felony for a driver to leave the scene of an incident where someone has been struck and hurt, or killed. Here is the statute that governs this: RCW 46.52.020..
Duty in case of personal injury or death or damage to attended vehicle or other property—Penalties.
(1) A driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury to or death of any person or involving striking the body of a deceased person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to, and in every event remain at, the scene of such accident until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (3) of this section; every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(2)(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person or damage to other property must move the vehicle as soon as possible off the roadway or freeway main lanes, shoulders, medians, and adjacent areas to a location on an exit ramp shoulder, the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location. The driver shall remain at the suitable location until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (3) of this section. Moving the vehicle in no way affects fault for an accident.
(b) A law enforcement officer or representative of the department of transportation may cause a motor vehicle, cargo, or debris to be moved from the roadway; and neither the department of transportation representative, nor anyone acting under the direction of the officer or the department of transportation representative is liable for damage to the motor vehicle, cargo, or debris caused by reasonable efforts of removal.
(3) Unless otherwise provided in subsection (7) of this section the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, or involving striking the body of a deceased person, or resulting in damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person or damage to other property shall give his or her name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number and shall exhibit his or her vehicle driver’s license to any person struck or injured or the driver or any occupant of, or any person attending, any such vehicle collided with and shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying or the making of arrangements for the carrying of such person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person or on his or her behalf. Under no circumstances shall the rendering of assistance or other compliance with the provisions of this subsection be evidence of the liability of any driver for such accident.
(4)(a) Any driver covered by the provisions of subsection (1) of this section failing to stop or comply with any of the requirements of subsection (3) of this section in the case of an accident resulting in death is guilty of a class B felony and, upon conviction, is punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(b) Any driver covered by the provisions of subsection (1) of this section failing to stop or comply with any of the requirements of subsection (3) of this section in the case of an accident resulting in injury is guilty of a class C felony and, upon conviction, is punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(c) Any driver covered by the provisions of subsection (1) of this section failing to stop or comply with any of the requirements of subsection (3) of this section in the case of an accident involving striking the body of a deceased person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
(d) This subsection shall not apply to any person injured or incapacitated by such accident to the extent of being physically incapable of complying with this section.
(5) Any driver covered by the provisions of subsection (2) of this section failing to stop or to comply with any of the requirements of subsection (3) of this section under said circumstances shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor: PROVIDED, That this provision shall not apply to any person injured or incapacitated by such accident to the extent of being physically incapable of complying herewith.
(6) The license or permit to drive or any nonresident privilege to drive of any person convicted under this section or any local ordinance consisting of substantially the same language as this section of failure to stop and give information or render aid following an accident with any vehicle driven or attended by any person shall be revoked by the department.
(7) If none of the persons specified are in condition to receive the information to which they otherwise would be entitled under subsection (3) of this section, and no police officer is present, the driver of any vehicle involved in such accident after fulfilling all other requirements of subsections (1) and (3) of this section insofar as possible on his or her part to be performed, shall forthwith report such accident to the nearest office of the duly authorized police authority and submit thereto the information specified in subsection (3) of this section.
Wiener and Lambka, PS, has handled many pedestrian claims. Clients have experienced injuries ranging from being struck by vehicles, run over by oncoming traffic, and fallen out of moving vehicles. Dealing with insurance in these cases is complicated. If the victim is a pedestrian, they usually have first-party insurance and are also considered a third-party to the driver’s automobile insurance policy. What this means is that this is one of the limited sets of circumstances where the driver’s PIP policy may pay for the pedestrian’s medical bills as they are incurred.
Pedestrian industry cases are complicated in every way: factually, legally, and insurance-wise. Every case must be analyzed and reviewed. Consultations with Wiener and Lambka are free and we encourage anyone looking for legal advice in a pedestrian injury case to give us a call.
A pedestrian accident typically falls under the statute of limitation of three years for negligence. This means you have three years to properly serve and file your case, or resolve it through a settlement, before your rights to claim compensation expire. While this time frame is fairly long, there is no good reason to wait to enforce your rights. There’s also the possibility that other elements may have shorter deadlines, such as submission of medical bills to insurance companies.
The first step: if you are able, is to stay at the scene and speak to the police who are investigating the incident. Make sure you call the police to the scene when involved in a pedestrian incident. Take photos of anything that may matter later, including scene and vehicle, should the driver alter the story of what happened. Be sure to Collect statements from witnesses.
Secondly, if necessary, seek out appropriate medical care. If you are in doubt, see a doctor.
Third, contact experienced attorneys to review your case. Contacting legal representation is a good idea, as these matter can become very complicated. Having a consultation with Wiener and Lambka is free, so there’s nothing holding you back from making that call.
"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“Wiener & Lambka helped me through the process, always discussing all of the available options. In particular, I was happy about the ease with which I was able to access my attorneys.”- B. Froton“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“The Staff at Wiener and Lambka are friendly and understand customer needs. They reduced their fee on my case and didn’t even take any on my son’s.” - M. Ngo“Wiener and Lambka did a good job of keeping me up to date on my case, and I’d definitely suggest their services to someone looking for an attorney.” - L. Lafond“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“A job well done! The staff at Wiener and Lambka made a point of explaining everything to me and if necessary I’d work with them again in a heartbeat.” - O. Yusuf“Wiener & Lambka get the job done. I appreciated their concern and interest in my case, and would definitely recommend them to a friend.” - Y. Martin"It was a stress free experience. I particularly enjoyed when, on my initial call, they sent someone out to my house to speak with me in person. I would certainly use or recommend Wiener & Lambka in the future." - M. Randall“The service and the staff were great. I was happy with everything, and would refer Wiener and Lambka to someone else in the future.” - I. Aleman“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“In my moment of Crisis Wiener & Lambka lent me a helping hand. Their dedication to my case was outstanding. They stuck by my side and fought for my rights. Thank you!” - K. Tuazon“Calls were returned in a timely manner, and the office staff is friendly. I’d recommend Wiener and Lambka to a friend in the future.” - T. Their“Everyone was great. The staff at Wiener and Lambka make a good thing out of a bad situation, and for that, I am very thankful.” - D. Grami“I was satisfied by the timely manner with which my case was handled. I would definitely recommend Wiener & Lambka to a friend in the future.” - D. Yusuf
Personal Injury Firms Seattle
Personal Injury Lawyer Bellevue
Personal Injury Lawyer Burien
Personal Injury Lawyer Sumner
personal injury lawyer auburn
personal injury lawyer covington
personal injury lawyer everett wa
personal injury lawyer fife
personal injury lawyer issaquah
personal injury lawyer kent
personal injury lawyer lakewood
personal injury lawyer bonney lake
personal injury lawyer enumclaw
personal injury lawyer federal way
personal injury lawyer kirkland
personal injury lawyer north bend
personal injury lawyer redmond
personal injury lawyer lynnwood
personal injury attorney in tacoma
personal injury lawyer puyallup
personal injury lawyer renton
personal injury lawyer seatac
personal injury lawyer south hill
personal injury lawyer tukwila
personal injury lawyer white center
personal injury lawyer woodinville
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Seattle
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Bellevue
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Tacoma
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Burien
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Sumner
Pedestrian Accident lawyer auburn
Pedestrian Accident lawyer everett wa
Pedestrian Accident lawyer fife
Pedestrian Accident lawyer issaquah
Pedestrian Accident lawyer kent
Pedestrian Accident lawyer lakewood
Pedestrian Accident lawyer federal way
Pedestrian Accident lawyer kirkland
Pedestrian Accident lawyer north bend
Pedestrian Accident lawyer redmond
Pedestrian Accident lawyer lynnwood
Pedestrian Accident lawyer puyallup
Pedestrian Accident lawyer renton
Pedestrian Accident lawyer seatac
Pedestrian Accident lawyer tukwila