When a pedestrian is involved in an auto accident, it’s rare that they walk away unscathed. In fact, the Texas Department of Transportation reports that, of the 5,767 crashes involving pedestrians in 2017, only 221 were reported as being injury-free. This means that approximately 96% of pedestrian-related accidents result in pedestrian injuries and/or fatalities.
These statistics are telling, but one thing they can’t show us is how often injured pedestrians succeed in collecting the financial compensation they need to cover their medical bills, time missed from work, and other costs caused by the accident. You see, being hit by a car doesn’t automatically result in full and fair compensation. Rather, the pedestrian (or a family member speaking on behalf of the pedestrian) has to demonstrate that the driver was at fault for the accident.
Accident Fault & Pedestrian Payment
In order to determine how much an accident victim should be paid (or if they should receive payment at all), Texas courts strive to pinpoint who caused the accident in the first place. Often, there isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question because both parties may have played a part in causing the accident. For instance, if the driver was texting while driving and the pedestrian was jaywalking, each party would be considered partially responsible for what happened.
Whether a Pedestrian Gets Paid: The Bar-51 Rule
So how do the courts determine fault? They look at the evidence presented — from witness statements to police reports to traffic camera footage. After reviewing this evidence, the court will assign a percentage of fault to each party:
- If the driver is found to be more than 50% at fault, the injured pedestrian can claim compensation.
- If the injured pedestrian is found to be more than 50% at fault, he or she cannot claim compensation.
This concept of awarding compensation to the injured party only when they’re the minority fault-holder is known as the “bar-51 rule.” While the bar-51 rule decides whether a pedestrian victim should be granted compensation for their injuries, it cannot decide how much they should be compensated. To make that determination, the court must consider the extent of the damages, as well as Texas’s comparative fault rule.