122 N. McDowell St. Charlotte, NC 28204


Is a Driver Always at Fault When Hitting a Pedestrian in North Carolina?

When a car hits a pedestrian, the laws of physics apply harshly to the victim. A human being is simply no match for a vehicle, and the pedestrian incurs the worst injuries. This can be a lifechanging experience, with long-term health consequences, lost wages, and other damages.

If you were the victim of such an accident, you may wonder if you can pursue the driver or their insurance for financial compensation. You may want to know how pedestrians get compensated for accident injuries. You may ask yourself whether a driver is always at fault when hitting a pedestrian in North Carolina.

These questions may not be easily answered, because the answers depend on the specific circumstances of the accident and the “contributory negligence” law in our state. You may be entitled to compensation, but you will need to prove that the car driver was negligent.

The Driver Might Not Be Held Responsible

is a driver always at fault when hitting a pedestrian

All drivers have a responsibility to drive safely when they get behind the wheel. This is called “duty of care,” and it means they need to exhibit the same caution that a normal person would in the same circumstances. If a driver runs a red light, speeds, or is texting while driving, they violate their duty of care.

When a careful person drives through a bustling city like Charlotte, with many pedestrians on the sidewalks, they vigilantly watch for persons entering the roadway. They slow down if they see children near the road, and make sure to yield at crosswalks. These are examples of someone following the duty of care.

To hold the driver responsible for hitting a pedestrian, you must be able to show that they violated their duty of care.

If the driver can prove they were being reasonably careful, then there may be reason to believe the pedestrian is somewhat at fault for the accident. And if it can be shown that the pedestrian was “contributorily negligent,” then they may not be entitled to any compensation. This is why it is very important to hire an experienced lawyer after you’ve been injured as a pedestrian.

RELATED: Learn About Our Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

Let us help you.


What Does “Pure Contributory Negligence” Mean?

is a driver always at fault when hitting a pedestrian

Legally speaking, pure contributory negligence means that you are not allowed to be compensated for your damages if the insurance company can prove you were even slightly at fault. This law can be very unfair in auto-pedestrian accidents. If the driver was 99% at fault and the pedestrian was only 1% at fault, the pedestrian cannot recover anything due to contributory negligence. There is a doctrine called Last Clear Chance that could show that the driver had the “last clear chance” to avoid hitting the pedestrian, but this can sometimes be difficult to prove.

Because of contributory negligence, it is in your best interest to stay highly visible to vehicles while walking and not make unpredictable moves when crossing the road.

RELATED: These Tips Can Reduce Pedestrian Accidents

A Pedestrian’s Negligence May Contribute to an Accident

is a driver always at fault when hitting a pedestrian

So, what might be considered as contributory negligence for a pedestrian? This can vary, and it is ultimately up to the defense or insurance company to prove that your actions qualify as such. However, some acts that could potentially be considered negligent include:

  • Darting out in the roadway unexpectedly.
  • Walking along a road where people rarely see pedestrians, like the side of the freeway.
  • Walking on the side of the road at night while wearing dark-colored clothing, making it hard to see that there’s a pedestrian present.
  • Looking down at your cellphone as you cross a street.
  • Crossing the street in an unexpected place, such as jaywalking rather than using a crosswalk.

As a pedestrian, the best way to avoid an accident is to behave predictably when vehicles are present. When people get hit by cars, regardless of who is at fault, the injuries are often severe. This can translate to significant costs, like medical bills and lost wages. Insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying fair compensation, even when their insured is clearly at fault.

If it can be proved in court that the pedestrian holds some of the responsibility for the accident, they will have to look to their own health insurance for help with medical bills. And there will be no compensation for lost wages or pain and suffering.

RELATED: How Do Pedestrians Get Compensated for Accident Injuries?

Myers Law Firm Can Help Pedestrians Seeking Compensation

If you are a pedestrian who has been hit by a car, the driver’s insurance company will probably do everything they can to keep you from receiving fair compensation. In order to avoid paying damages, they will try to prove you were even 1% responsible for the accident.

That is why it is so important to have the right lawyer on your side. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows all the ins and outs of the legal system and fights for the compensation you deserve.

At Myers Law Firm, we know how difficult it is to recover from an accident. That’s why we offer a free consultation to discuss your personal injury case and assess your liability claim. Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out this contact form to learn about your legal options for pursuing damages.


NCDOT, Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation. (2009, November 13). Pedestrian Laws of North Carolina. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina General Assembly. Retrieved from https://transportation.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/wt-ped-laws.pdf

Vehicle control signs and signals. NCDOT. § 20-158. (2020). https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByChapter/Chapter_20.html


The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

Schedule Your Consultation Now!

Type of Case (Select One)(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.