Can a Pedestrian be at Fault in a Car Accident in North Carolina?

Personal injury Lawyer Matt Arnold answers the question: “If I am injured in a car accident or at work what should I do?”


In most accidents involving a pedestrian and an automobile, the driver of the motor vehicle is presumed to be at fault for the collision. However, there are pedestrian accidents in which the pedestrian hit by a car can be partially or fully to blame for the crash.


crossing-Charlotte-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-300x200When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way in North Carolina?

North Carolina’s ​G.S. 20-172, ​G.S. 20-173, and G.S. 20-174 require drivers to yield the right of way to pedestrians in the following situations:

  • At intersections not controlled by traffic signals,
  • At mid-block crosswalks with no traffic signals;
  • When entering or exiting driveways, alleys, parking lots, or building entrances; and
  • When a pedestrian is crossing in marked crosswalks or unmarked crosswalks near intersections.

In all other situations, a pedestrian must obey traffic signals and yield the right of way to motorists when he or she does not have the right of way. If a pedestrian fails to give the right of way to a car driver and ends up getting hit by the motorist, the pedestrian may be deemed at fault for causing the collision.


When Pedestrians May be at Fault for Causing an Accident

Pedestrians must look both ways to see any approaching vehicles before crossing the street. Also, when there is no sidewalk, pedestrians are required to walk facing traffic. Under North Carolina law, both pedestrians and motorists have a legal duty to look out for each other and avoid causing harm.

When someone fails to exercise due care and ends up causing a crash, they can be held responsible for the accident. Pedestrians have a duty to obey traffic laws and exercise due care to avoid being hit by motor vehicles. A pedestrian may be at fault for causing a crash if they:

  • Jaywalk (cross a road illegally)
  • Cross against a red signal at an intersection
  • Cross an intersection diagonally
  • Dart into the road or step off the curb unexpectedly
  • Do not look both ways before crossing a road
  • Stand, lie down, or play in the road
  • Walk in the roadway where no sidewalk is available facing the same direction as traffic


North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence Law in Pedestrian Accidents

Unlike most other states that adopted the doctrine of comparative negligence, North Carolina still follows the law of contributory negligence when establishing fault and determining an award of damages in personal injury cases.

Under the contributory negligence doctrine, an injured person is barred from any compensation if they were to any degree at fault for their injury. Thus, if an injured pedestrian’s negligence contributed to a collision, the pedestrian may not be able to recover any damages.

This may sound unfair, but that is how North Carolina’s law of contributory negligence works. That is why injured pedestrians should be represented by a skilled personal injury attorney, especially when the motorist or their lawyer is trying to put the blame on the pedestrian.

Contact our Charlotte pedestrian accident lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss liability in your case. Call (704) 370-2828 to receive a video or phone consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.





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