It’s not uncommon for runners and other pedestrians to be hit by cars. We’ve seen it in our personal injury practice, and we’ve seen it on the news. For example, in Midtown Memphis, two women were hit while using an intersection, and in Germantown, a man was hit and killed by a car.
Legal Rights and Duties of Runners and Pedestrians
Most people are aware of the Rules of the Road that apply to drivers, but what are the legal duties and rights of an injured runner or pedestrian? A common misconception is that a pedestrian always has the right of way, but that is not necessarily true. Both drivers and pedestrians have certain rights and duties under the law.
A Runner’s Legal Duties
- You have the duty to look before starting to cross a street.
- You have the duty to exercise reasonable care for your own safety.
- You have the duty to keep a timely lookout for traffic.
- You have a duty to follow the pedestrian signals.
- You have a duty to use sidewalks when they are available.
Crossing the Street at Intersections and Crosswalks
If the traffic signal is in your favor, you have the right of way at all intersections and crosswalks.
- Caveat: Having the right of way does not mean you can proceed “serenely oblivious of surrounding circumstances.”
- Caveat: Having the right of way does not mean you can step out in front of a car when it is too late for the car to stop.
Crossing the Street Anywhere Else
When crossing the street at any point other than in a crosswalk at an intersection, you have a statutory duty to yield the right of way to all vehicles.
What if there is no Sidewalk?
Always run or walk facing traffic. This way you can see and react to oncoming traffic.
Safety Tips for Runners from Coach Star Ritchey
Obviously, it’s best if you are never hit by a car while running or walking! Star Ritchey , Certified Running Coach and Owner of Midtown Memphis Running Group, Star Runners, gives the following “go-to” safety tips for runners:
- Run facing traffic. You never want traffic at your back.
- Never assume that because you see the car, the car sees you. Be prepared to move.
- No headphones. If you insist on headphones, only wear 1 earbud.
- Always wear reflective gear unless it’s daylight.
- Always wear a Road I.D.
If you are hit by a car, call a personal injury lawyer.
Each case is unique and there are always exceptions to the rules. And remember, the driver of the car has legal duties, too. If you are a runner or pedestrian and you have been hit by a car, don’t assume you’re automatically at fault. Talk with a lawyer who can give you advice about your particular case. Don’t just blindly accept as truth what the driver’s insurance company is telling you about fault.
In Tennessee, we have what is called “Comparative Fault.” That means you may be able to recover for your injuries, even if you bear some portion of the fault, as long as your fault isn’t equal to or greater than the driver’s fault. You need a personal injury lawyer who can sort through the facts and determine whether you are entitled to recovery.
If you are hit by a car, call Wiseman Bray PLLC.
We have a team of experienced trial lawyers here at Wiseman Bray PLLC. Our work is personal and we’d be glad to give you the attention you deserve. If you are a runner or pedestrian and you’ve been hit by a car, please call us at (901) 372-5003 or email us here.
Other Resources for Runners
The Tennessee Department of Transportation website lists the various laws that apply to runners, pedestrians, and drivers.