Court Finds Pedestrian Was in Crosswalk and Holds Motorist Responsible for Pedestrian's Injuries

Posted on Apr 06, 2012

Whether a pedestrian is in a crosswalk is crucial in many auto-pedestrian cases.  In a recent case decided for the First District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, the court of appeals affirmed a decision by a trial court that found a motorist responsible for a collision with a pedestrian who was crossing the street.  An elderly man was crossing a multi-laned highway when he was struck by a motorist.  The collision occurred before daybreak and the roads were wet. The main issue was whether the elderly pedestrian was in the crosswalk.

When a pedestrian is crossing at a crosswalk, he or she has the right of way to vehicles approaching the crosswalk.  R.C. 4511.46(A) states that when traffic control signals are not in place, a driver shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian within a crosswalk who is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.  The pedestrain cannot suddenly leave a curb or place of safety and walk into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to be an immediate hazard.

In this case, the driver did not see the pedestrian until after the impact.  Two pieces of evidence provided conflicting inferences.  The pedestrian's laminated bus pass was found in the crosswalk, while a scuff mark created by the pedestrian's heel was found about three feet outside the crosswalk.  Both sides hired accident reconstruction experts who reached different conclusions about the location of the pedestrian when he was struck.

The trial court heard the case without a jury.  The judge ruled that the pedestrian had been in the crosswalk at the time that the defendant's car approached, but that the pedestrian moved outside of the crosswalk at the last moment to avoid the car.  Under those facts, the court found that the motorist was mainly at fault.  The court did find that the pedestrian was also slightly at fault for wearing dark clothing at night, but that this did not bar his recovery.