Yes, and for good reason. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), about 5,000 pedestrians are killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles every year, and nearly ten times that number suffer injuries in these kinds of accidents. Tennessee has an unfortunately high rate of pedestrian accidents, with drivers overwhelmingly at fault for causing injuries. But what people may not realize is that there are also laws governing a pedestrian’s actions near roadways, and failure to comply with these laws can make it more difficult to get injury compensation.
Pedestrian Laws for Safe Crossing and Road Use in Tennessee
Tennessee law states that pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and driveways. However, pedestrians must exercise reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others while crossing the road or traveling in traffic lanes. Failure to follow safety laws can result in civil infractions against the pedestrian, and can also affect the amount that he or she is awarded an injury case.
For example, injury cases may be more complex if they involve:
- Walking along the roadside. Under Tennessee law, it is not legal for a pedestrian to walk or run in the road if an adjacent sidewalk has been provided. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians are required to walk facing the direction of traffic and as far onto the shoulder of the road as possible. In some cases, pedestrians are forced into the road because the sidewalk is under construction, a store has blocked the path with signage, or a lack of maintenance has made the sidewalk unusable. An attorney should examine the facts of your case to determine if one of these parties may share legal responsibility for the accident.
- Pedestrian signals. Tennessee law requires that all pedestrians who have a Walk signal proceed across the roadway responsibly, and stay on the curb when the Don't Walk signal is present. No pedestrian may start to cross the roadway if the Don't Walk signal has started flashing.
- Crossing outside of an intersection. It is not illegal for a pedestrian to cross a roadway outside of a designated intersection. However, pedestrians crossing mid-block are required to yield the right-of-way to vehicles traveling on the roadway. Pedestrians are forbidden from leaving a traffic island or curb into the path of an oncoming vehicle unless the vehicle has enough distance to stop safely.
- Crossing in front of a vehicle. Pedestrians must always look both ways before starting across the roadway. They are also required to cross at least ten feet in front of a vehicle that is in the process of dropping off passengers (such as school buses, city buses, and even passenger cars). Pedestrians who do not follow this law can be charged with a traffic offense and be ordered to pay fines.
- Soliciting. State law prohibits any soliciting on public streets, corners, alleys, and other traffic lanes in Tennessee. If you were injured while hitchhiking, asking for financial help, work opportunities, or other contributions while standing on the roadway, you may be found to share fault for the crash.
If a jury believes that a pedestrian’s actions contributed to his injuries, the pedestrian’s damages may be lowered in proportion to the amount of fault. If the pedestrian is found to be more than 50% at fault, he or she may not recover any damages at all. That is why it is vital for pedestrians who have been struck by cars to speak with an accident attorney who is well-versed in traffic law and can investigate the details of your claim.
If you have questions after being injured in an accident, the attorneys at GriffithLaw will listen to your story and explain your rights in your free case evaluation. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to get started, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.