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Establishing liability in pedestrian accident lawsuits

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, about 5,000 pedestrians around the country lose their lives each year after being struck by a motor vehicle. While some of these fatalities may be unavoidable, many others involve some sort of negligence on the part of the pedestrian, the motorist or both. Establishing liability is a crucial step in a Michigan pedestrian accident lawsuit, and this is generally done by determining whether or not the parties involved met their duty of care obligation.

Drivers are expected to obey traffic laws and remain vigilant at all times. They also have a duty of care to take all reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries. This means that they should be cautious when crossing busy intersections in areas with heavy foot traffic even when they have a green light. Drivers should be particularly vigilant in areas such as schools, parks and residential areas where children are likely to be at play.

Pedestrians may be considered to have acted negligently when they walk out into traffic without looking or fail to use a marked intersection to cross a busy street. Pedestrian accident victims in Michigan who do not take all reasonable steps to protect themselves from injury may be awarded reduced damages in lawsuits under the state's comparative negligence law. Under this law, damages may be reduced in proportion to the pedestrian's degree of responsibility.

Personal injury attorneys with experience in handling pedestrian knockdown lawsuits will likely have encountered defendants who blame the plaintiff for their own negligent actions. Attorneys may seek to discredit such arguments by introducing evidence such as witness statements and security camera footage. Attorneys may also request electronic records, such as data produced by the vehicle's technology, to establish an accurate chain of events.

Source: Michigan Legislature, "600.2959 Comparative fault; reduced damages", Legislative Council, State of Michigan, accessed on June 20, 2016

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