The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. Articles What Is "Higher Duty of Care" in Pedestrian Car Accidents?

What Is "Higher Duty of Care" in Pedestrian Car Accidents?

By Christopher Hoffmann  Jul. 16, 2018 5:10p

To obtain a driver’s license in Missouri, you have to assume specific responsibilities. One of them is that you have a higher duty of care when driving near pedestrians. When those pedestrians are children under 18, that duty of care increases substantially.

When you are driving an automobile and encounter people walking or biking, especially if they are minors, it is imperative that you take special precautions to keep the pedestrian safe, or you can find yourself in some substantial trouble.

Missouri is a comparative negligence law state, which means that when an accident occurs, it is possible that one, two, or even multiple parties might be liable and responsible for the damages of an auto accident. When it comes to drivers encountering pedestrians, negligence is typically stacked in favor of the pedestrian.

A driver in the state of Missouri is obligated to take reasonable care when pedestrians are around. That means that they have to slow down, anticipate a child being reckless, or someone walking out into traffic, when possible.

If a driver hits a pedestrian, especially a young one, it is quite likely that they will be solely responsible for the impending injuries and damages.

What Is the Theory of Reasonableness?

To determine who is responsible and liable in a car accident with a pedestrian, often the law turns to the theory of reasonableness. The theory states that you have to prove that any reasonable person, in the same circumstances, would have been able to foresee danger and to take special precautions to prevent hitting a pedestrian.

Therefore, if you see a small child who is close to the curb, and you don’t anticipate that they might not step into traffic, then it might actually be your fault.

What Type of Duty of Care Do Pedestrians and Bicyclists Have?

Children and pedestrians are held to a lower standard of care when it comes to auto accidents. That means that unless they blatantly do something like walking out into traffic while intoxicated, the driver is usually to blame for not slowing, stopping, or watching out for a pedestrian a bicyclist.

That is why it is critical when you are in a residential neighborhood, a crowded city center, or a school zone, that you slow down for conditions. If you notice that children are around, proceed with caution and know that children can be extremely unpredictable.

If you are in an accident with a pedestrian or bicyclist, you may think that you aren’t at fault if you were following the rules of the road. However, if you didn’t act with a higher duty of care to ensure that someone didn’t get injured, it might end up being your problem.

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