Pedestrian Accidents and Indiana Law

William Bill HurstIndianapolis Accident Lawyer

Pedestrian Accident  

When a pedestrian is struck by thousands of pounds of metal even at low speeds there is a high potential for serious injury or death.  Of the clients that I have represented over the years, some of the most serious injuries I’ve seen have involved pedestrian accidents.  Pedestrian injuries often involve serious internal injuries, damage to organs, as well as fractures of bones and particularly of the lower extremities.  Often we see serious head injuries from the pedestrian who is thrown into the car as a result of a speeding vehicle.  These injuries may be life threatening and often result in permanent disabilities for those injured.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

In 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States.  On average a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours, and injured every 8 minutes in traffic crashes.  This was a substantial increase from 2009 and seems to be the current progression throughout the country.  About 75% of all pedestrian fatalities occur in an urban setting and the majority of pedestrian incidents occur at non-intersections as opposed to crossing areas or intersections.  With regard to fatalities the majority occurred at nighttime with over half of all pedestrian fatalities occurring after the sun has set.  About 1 in 5 of all fatalities are children between the ages of 5 and 9.  With regard to children and adults almost 2/3 of all pedestrians who are killed are males.  Clearly alcohol is a factor in nearly 40% of all traffic crashes that involve pedestrian fatality.  This may be on the part of not only the driver of the vehicle but also on the part of the pedestrian.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

The most common causes of pedestrian accidents include inattentive or preoccupied drivers and drivers who are talking or texting on cell phones. Other causes would include the driver’s failure to observe the speed limits, yield the right-of-way at a crosswalk, or disregard traffic controls.  These same failures in conduct also apply to pedestrians who in recent times are often seen texting on their phone as they walk down the street or attempt to cross a street.  Walkers and runners are at the highest risk of fatalities from being hit by moving cars.  These types of accidents happen all too often and are quite unfortunate because they are preventable.  Had both the driver and the pedestrian followed the rules of the road an accident would not have occurred.

How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents

Researchers tell us that you can reduce your risk as a pedestrian if you avoid those things which cause accidents.  For example, you should avoid walking at night or if you do make yourself very visible.  Walking in a street significantly increases the risk of you being hit so you should never walk on a highway if there is an alternate route which you may take.  It goes without saying you should never walk along a highway or a sidewalk in an intoxicated state.  Doing what you can in a common sense fashion as a pedestrian can literally make the difference between life and death.  [Just a reminder – as many fatalities are children we as parents must be vigilant and protect our children, teach them not to go into the roadways or dart between cars].

Injury to Seniors

While there are many accidents involving children and less regarding the seniors, it is clear, however, that the injuries to the minors are generally minor compared to a similar injury in a senior.  According to a study presented in 2012 by the American College of Surgeons Annual Clinic Congress, older patients of at least 55 years of age or more were likely to have multiple and bilateral fractures instead of fracturing only one leg in a collision.  These injuries are more severe and long lasting in the older patient than in children and young adults under the age of 18.


pedestrian accident

Rules for pedestrians require them to obey all traffic regulations and signals when walking along a road or crossing an intersection.  Each state has laws for pedestrians.  The State of Indiana is no exception.  The laws pertaining to pedestrians are found at I.C. 9-21-17.  Generally speaking, pedestrians must follow all signals and traffic control devices. When a signal says “Don’t Walk” the pedestrian is not supposed to walk. When the signal says “Walk” or is flashing “Don’t Walk” the pedestrian may walk. In those instances a person driving a vehicle shall yield the right of way to the pedestrian. IC 9-21-17-2. For pedestrians that “run into the path of a vehicle,” Indiana law prohibits such sudden actions where a pedestrian runs or walks into the path of a vehicle where the vehicle is “so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” IC. 9-21-17-5.

Some may think that pedestrians always have the right of way, which is not the case. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway. IC 9-21-17-15. A pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point other than a crosswalk “shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.” IC -21-17-7. This is also true where a pedestrian is crossing a roadway where a tunnel or overhead crossing has been provided (but was not used). IC 9-21-17-8. For intersections with traffic control signals, pedestrians may only cross on marked crosswalks. IC 9-21-17-9. Pedestrians at an intersection also are not allowed to cross an intersection diagonally. IC 9-21-17-10. Pedestrians are also encouraged to walk upon the right half of the cross-walk. IC 9-21-17-11.  Also of note, if a sidewalk is provided “and the sidewalk’s use is practicable,” a pedestrian may not walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. IC 9-21-17-12.

If there is no sidewalk available, pedestrians shall walk upon a shoulder as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway. IC 9-21-17-13. If there is no sidewalk or shoulder, a pedestrian must walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway. If the roadway is two-way the pedestrian shall walk only on the left side of the roadway. IC 9-21-17-14. Also of note, pedestrians must always yield right-of-way to emergency vehicles using visual and/or audible signals. IC 9-21-17-20.

In addition to the laws involving pedestrians and walking, there are also a slew of laws on such issues as hailing a cab and advertisement. A person may not “solicit a ride from a person who drives a vehicle” while standing in a roadway unless its an emergency. IC 9-21-17-16. A person may also not stand on a highway for the purpose of soliciting employment or business. IC 9-21-17-17. Any violation of these rules is a class C infraction. IC 9-21-17-24.

Automobile drivers also must obey traffic rules include yielding to pedestrians when they have the right-of-way.  Generally the laws pertaining to drivers vs pedestrians are found at I.C. 9-21-17 and 9-21-8.  If a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the road, drivers approaching from behind the stopped vehicle may not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle. IC 9-21-17-6. In regard to blind pedestrians, a person who drives a vehicle must yield the right of way to the blind person carrying a clearly visible white cane or being guided by a guide dog. IC 9-21-17-21. When the driver of a vehicle is slowing or stopping, turning upon a highway or changing lanes, the person must give a clearly audible signal from their horn if any pedestrian may be affected by the movement and give an appropriate turn or stop signal. IC 9-21-8-24. Drivers approaching a yield sign must slow down or stop if necessary and must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian legally crossing. IC 9-21-8-33(a). If a driver is involved in a collision with a pedestrian in a crosswalk after driving past a yield sign without stopping, the collision is considered prima facie evidence of the person’s failure to yield the right-of-way. IC 9-21-8-33(b).

The general rule applied to drivers in regard to pedestrians is that they must exercise “due care” to avoid a collision with pedestrians, giving an audible signal when necessary, and exercise proper caution upon observing a child or obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person. IC 9-21-8-37. Drivers’ responsibilities include keeping a lookout for people who might be crossing a street inside or outside of a crosswalk.  The driver is not absolved from responsibility for running over or hitting a pedestrian who is jaywalking or or crossing outside the crosswalk, or even if that person is wearing dark clothes.  Drivers and pedestrians must obey the traffic laws and must exercise reasonable care on both their parts.

Experienced Accident Lawyer

Our office has over 35 years of representing victims of pedestrian accidents throughout the State of Indiana.  Even though usually its only the pedestrian and automobile driver who are involved in the collision there may be other parties who are potentially responsible, other possible wrongdoers include people/entities who do not properly maintain the sidewalk, roadway or pedestrian path which directly results in injury to a pedestrian.  These are issues which require an experienced personal injury lawyer to evaluate your claim for injury.

Contact our office for a free consultation and you may follow up our lawyers for a free consultation at 1-800-636-0808.  There is no obligation and we do not charge a fee unless we recover money for you.


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Indianapolis Personal Injury Law William W. Hurst
William W. Hurst

Bill Hurst has successfully represented hundreds of accident victims, and has limited his practice to personal injury cases for over thirty-five (35) years.

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