August 16, 2019
Pitts Carr and Alex Weatherby
Do Pedestrians Really Have the Right of Way?
Pedestrians are vulnerable to injury. There’s little doubt when a pedestrian and a car or truck have an accident that the pedestrian will bear the brunt of the injury. Because of the risk of injury, pedestrians have a unique status in Georgia.
Georgia has statutes that, generally speaking, give pedestrians the right of way. One of these statutes, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-91(a), states “The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk….” Notice that this language in this statute is not permissive like “may” or “should.” The language is an order, the driver “shall stop.” O.C.G.A. § 40-6-93 likewise says “Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway….” This rule again says the drive “shall” avoid colliding with a pedestrian.
But, don’t go jumping out into the roadway just yet. There are exceptions to nearly every rule, including these. Georgia law requires pedestrians to exercise ordinary care while walking. Parker v. Welborn, 236 Ga. App. 344, 346 (1999). This means a person walking has to act reasonably and watch for their own safety. There are statutory duties as well. These include the general duty to use a crosswalk, not dart into traffic, and not to cross traffic diagonally. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-92.
When there is an Atlanta pedestrian accident, whether the pedestrian has a valid claim for their injuries can be a complex case. Hiring an experienced Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer is important. A lot of times it comes down to a detailed factual analysis of the roadway, the driver’s actions, and the pedestrian’s actions. An injured pedestrian in Georgia can only recover if they are less than 50% at fault. This is the same rule for any injured person in a Georgia truck accident, bike accident, or car accident.