A car accident involving a pedestrian in St. Joseph brings out some of the harsh realities about assigning fault in an accident. While many people assume that the “victim” in a crash was the one who got seriously hurt, the law focuses instead on who was responsible.
In some cases, the person who suffered the most can also be legally liable for the other person’s losses and injuries.
Pedestrian Seriously Hurt in Car Accident in St. Joseph
A pedestrian was hit by a car shortly after 7pm on Thursday, October 17. The crash happened near the intersection of the South Belt Highway and Pickett Road in St. Joseph. Apparently, the pedestrian was crossing South Belt Highway between the U.S. Bank and the McCarthy Baptist Church.
The pedestrian was severely hurt, and was taken by Life Flight to the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City. He is in what is described as “very critical condition” in the intensive care unit.
Details of the Accident Raise Questions of Responsibility
Whenever a pedestrian gets hit and hurt by a car, there is an automatic presumption that the driver of the car was at fault. Cars are, after all, supposed to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and are not allowed to plow them over once they are in the street.
However, there are details that can overcome that presumption.
In this particular accident, for example, the pedestrian was not using a crosswalk, was near an intersection, and was apparently wearing dark clothing while crossing the street after the sun had set. The driver of the car, on the other hand, was not issued a ticket after the accident.
With Responsibility for a Crash Comes Liability
The person whose conduct – even if it was unintentional, negligent conduct – caused the crash is the one who the law will hold liable for its results.
Where multiple people are responsible, Missouri’s comparative negligence law assigns each party a percentage of responsibility for their role in the crash. They will only be liable for that percentage of the losses associated with the accident.
Note that, throughout this process, there is no mention of how severe someone’s injuries were in the accident. Legally, it does not matter whether one person received life-threatening injuries while the other person was barely hurt, at all.
What does matter is how responsible for the accident each party was. The victim is not who was hurt more; instead, it is who was least responsible for the crash.
In some cases, this can create what seem to be harsh results. The person who was severely hurt can end up being responsible for their own losses, as well as the other person’s minor injuries.
This case involving the severely hurt pedestrian seems to be shaping up to be one of those with harsh results: The details that have emerged suggest that the pedestrian’s conduct had a larger and larger role in causing the accident. The pedestrian may even end up having to pay for a portion of the driver’s property damage to fix their car.