Car versus pedestrian: Who has the right of way?

As you’re driving through Stamford, you encounter a pedestrian about to step off the curb into the street. Of course, you don’t want to hit them, but you’re curious. Under Connecticut law, who has the right-of-way in these situations?

The law in Connecticut is very specific in that it states, “It does not give anyone the right-of-way.” Instead, it provides clear instructions on who must yield the right-of-way in specific scenarios. The overriding concern is that motorists must do all that they can to avoid collisions, both with other drivers as well as pedestrians.

One right-of-way exception

One exception exists to the no right-of-way rule. Visually impaired pedestrians with either guide dogs or white canes have an “absolute right-of-way” regardless of whether they are in a crosswalk or not. Additionally, drivers are warned not to blow their horns at visually impaired pedestrians because the sudden noise could frighten or confuse them.

When to yield the right-of-way

Some roads and intersections have marked crosswalks where pedestrians should cross. When people are crossing in either marked or unmarked crosswalks, it is the drivers who must yield the right-of-way to them. Ditto for situations when bike paths intersect with the street, as pedestrians and bicyclists have the right-of-way.

In the hypothetical situation above where the hapless pedestrian was about to step out into traffic, the motorist could potentially be liable for the accident if they could have avoided hitting the person yet didn’t.

When you consider the catastrophic injuries that pedestrians and cyclists can suffer in a collision with a car, it’s easy to understand why this law was enacted. Nobody wants to kill or maim an individual simply because the person made a mistake stepping off a curb into the street.

If you were hit by a car

Regardless of how minor your injuries may be, if you are walking or riding your bike and get hit by a car or truck, you need to be checked out by a doctor. Not all serious injuries are immediately apparent. You could have suffered internal injuries like a dangerous bleed that could quickly become life-threatening.

Some traumatic brain injuries (TBI) also may not manifest initially. Yet a TBI can prove deadly if the brain begins to swell dangerously. By the time the victim or others around them realize something is wrong, the damage may already have been done.

Documenting your injuries from a car-pedestrian accident is also important should you choose to file a claim for compensation with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.