Pedestrian Accidents

Our Washington Personal Injury Attorney wants you to know that pedestrian accidents are an exception to the general rule that insurance coverage for medical expenses is not available from the at-fault party until the entire claim is resolved. For pedestrian accidents auto insurance of the at-fault party will usually provide immediate medical benefits.

Definition of pedestrian under Washington personal injury law.

Is most situations common sense tells us whether someone who is injured was a pedestrian or not. Occasionally it is not clear whether the injured party was a pedestrian. Washington statutes define a pedestrian as “any person who is afoot or who is using a wheelchair, a power wheelchair, or a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.”[1]

Sometimes Washington courts have defined pedestrian broadly to include bicyclists, when a bicyclist is in a crosswalk, for instance.[2] Washington courts have also held persons in other ambiguous situations to be pedestrians, including

  • a motorist who was struck on a freeway bridge after leaving her stalled car,[3]
  • a police officer performing his duty,[4]
  • a surveyor who was working within an unmarked crosswalk,[5]
  • a person who attempted to disengage the bumper of his disabled automobile from that of another that was being used to push it and to get it started,[6]
  • a truck driver putting tire chains on his truck which had stalled on ice at center of road,[7]
  • a person pushing a disabled vehicle partially on the road,[8]
  • a tow truck operator about to enter his truck after adjusting a tow line,[9]
  • a person attempting to enter an automobile after crossing the street,[10]
  • a person walking along the edge of a highway pulling a cart,[11]
  • a person changing his tire while stopped on the highway.[12]

On the other hand, a motorist standing on one side of his vehicle, leaning over the left fender of his stalled car, was held not a pedestrian.[13]

Liability for pedestrian injuries.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a pedestrian, do not assume you will be fairly compensated. Insurance companies routinely blame the victim to avoid paying a fair settlement amount.

Pedestrians in a marked crosswalk are favored by the law. Even in these situations, though, a pedestrian could in some circumstances be found partly at fault. Conversely, even though a pedestrian was not in a crosswalk, the pedestrian may be legally entitled to compensation for personal injury. Every pedestrian injury cases is a bit different and the outcome will depend on a myriad of factors.

As with any personal injury claim the damages may be reduced by any fault on the part of the injured person. In one Washington case (not one of ours) a pedestrian walked in front of a vehicle as the driver was preparing to enter a roadway. The pedestrian realized the driver had never looked in her direction, but proceeded to walk in front of the car anyway. Even though the pedestrian had the right of way, the jury found the pedestrian 50% at fault for her own injuries and the result was upheld in appeal. The case illustrates that fault is not always cut and dried.

Liability against a driver who hits a pedestrian is not assumed, and recovery for personal injury is not automatic.  All this must proven. It is important to have an attorney review your case early so that evidence can be analysed and preserved.

Contact us for a free personal injury case evaluation.


[1] RCW 46.04.400.

[2] Pudmaroff v. Allen, 138 Wn.2d 55, 65, 977 P.2d 574 (1999).

[3] Stewart v. State, 92 Wn.2d 285, 597 P.2d 101 (1979).

[4] Dailey v. Lange, 20 Wn. App. 12, 578 P.2d 1322 (1978).

[5] Burns v. Dills, 68 Wn.2d377, 413 P.2d370 (1966).

[6] See v. Willett, 58 Wn.2d39, 360 P.2d592 (1961).

[7] Myers v. West Coast Fast Freight, 42 Wn.2d 524, 256 P.2d 840 (1953).

[8] Bergstrom v. Qve, 39 Wn.2d 78, 234 P.2d 548 (1951).

[9] Discargar v. City of Seattle,25 Wn. 2d I 306, 171 P.2d 205 (1946).

[10] Nylund v. Johnston, 19 Wn.2d 163, 141 P.2d 863 (1943).

[11] Flaumer v. Samuels, 4 Wn.2d 609, 104 P.2d 484 (1940).

[12] Ralston v. Vessey, 43 Wn.2d 76, 260 P.2d 324 (1953).

[13] Gooschin v. Ladd, 177 Wash. 625, 33 P.2d 653 (1934).