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Pedestrian Accidents

Car accidents involving a pedestrian are common in Iowa. A recent study by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), estimates that vehicles kill more than 4,000 people each year and injure more than 70,000 in pedestrian accidents. 

On average, a traffic crash injures one pedestrian every eight minutes and kills one pedestrian every two hours. A pedestrian can include a person walking, running or jogging. These accidents can happen at a crosswalk or another type of crossing at the roadway.

The rules of the road in Iowa are intended to protect pedestrians that are crossing the road or walking along the roadway. Understanding the rules of the road in Iowa is important in any personal injury case involving a collision with a pedestrian in a crosswalk or near the roadway. Accidents with a pedestrian can also happen in a parking lot or even when the driver loses control of a vehicle and leaves the roadway unexpectedly.

Pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks, on sidewalks, and on the right side of public roads and highways when there isn't a sidewalk. In many of these cases, the pedestrian will bring a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver of the motor vehicle that caused the accident.

Attorneys for Injured Pedestrians in Des Moines, Iowa

If you were injured as a pedestrian in a car accident, then you are entitled to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the negligence driver. Call an experienced personal injury attorney in Des Moines, Iowa, with experience helping a pedestrian injured after being struck by a motor vehicle.

Our attorneys understand the special rules of the road that apply to protecting pedestrians walking near the roadway. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call (515) 279-9700 today.


Types of Car Accidents Involving a Pedestrian

The types of car accidents that involve a pedestrian include:


Pedestrians' Rights And Duties

The standard jury instruction, 600.45 for “Traffic Control Signals - Pedestrians” provides:

Signal lights shall regulate pedestrian traffic in the following manner:

  1. A pedestrian facing a steady yellow light at an intersection is warned that there is insufficient time to cross the intersection, and any pedestrian starting to cross the road shall yield the right of way to vehicles.
  2. A pedestrian facing a red light shall not enter the road unless the pedestrian can safely cross the road without interfering with vehicular traffic.
  3. A 'don't walk' light means pedestrian traffic facing the signal shall not start to cross the road in the direction of the signal, and pedestrian traffic in the crossing shall proceed to a safety zone.
  4. A 'walk' light means that pedestrian traffic facing the signal may proceed to cross the road in the direction of the signal.

Under Iowa Code section 321.257, a violation of this law for “Traffic Control Signals - Pedestrians” is negligence.

Under Iowa Code section 321.1(16), the term crosswalk is defined to mean any portion of a road distinctly marked for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface. The definition of the term "crosswalk" also includes the portion of the road connecting the sidewalks on either side of the intersection.


Protections for Pedestrians in a Crosswalk

Under Iowa Code section 321.330, drivers have special duties that apply to protect a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Those rules are explained in the standard jury instruction, 600.47 for “Pedestrian's Duty Of Care In A Crosswalk.” That jury instruction provides:

“A pedestrian in a crosswalk may rely upon an approaching driver's duty to yield, but the pedestrian still must exercise ordinary care to avoid being struck by a motor vehicle which was seen or should have been seen. Whenever possible, pedestrians shall walk on the right half of the crosswalk.*

A violation of this law related to the duty of care to a pedestrian in a crosswalk is negligence.


Accidents with a Pedestrian Not in the Crosswalk

Sometimes, accidents involving a pedestrian occur at a location other than a crosswalk. The standard jury instructions in civil cases at 600.48 for “Crossing At Other Than Crosswalk” provides: 

  1. Any pedestrian crossing a road at any point other than a crosswalk shall yield the right of way to all vehicles on the road.
  2. Any pedestrian crossing a road where a [pedestrian tunnel] or [over-head pedestrian crossing] has otherwise been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles on the road.
  3. Where signals are in operation at any place not an intersection, all pedestrians are required to cross within a marked crosswalk.

Iowa Code section 321.328, a violation of this law related to the duty of a pedestrian at a crossing other than a crosswalk is negligence.


Accidents with a Pedestrians On the Left Side of a Highway

The standard jury instruction found at 600.49 for “Pedestrians On Left” provides that pedestrians shall walk on or along the left side of the highway. Under Iowa Code section 321.326, a violation of this law is negligence. This provision often applies when a pedestrian is walking along the right side of a highway and is struck by a moving vehicle.


Pedestrians Injured While Soliciting Rides / Hitchhiking

The standard jury instructions at 600.50 for “Pedestrians Soliciting Rides” provide that “[a] pedestrian may hitchhike, but may not stand on any portion of the road ordinarily used for vehicular traffic.” Under Iowa Code section 321.331, a violation of this law related to pedestrians injured while soliciting a rider hitchhiking is negligence.


Pedestrian's Right Of Way

The standard jury instructions at  600.51 for "Pedestrian's Right Of Way" provides:

Where signals are not [in place] or [in operation] the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian, [slowing down] or [stopping] if necessary to yield to a pedestrian crossing the road within a crosswalk.

Under Iowa Code section 321.327, a violation of this law related to the right of way for pedestrians in a crosswalk is negligence. The standard jury instruction 600.52 for the Duty Of Driver provides:

  1. The driver of a vehicle is required to exercise ordinary care to avoid hitting a pedestrian on a road and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.
  2. The driver of a vehicle shall exercise ordinary care upon observing [any child] or [any confused] or [any incapacitated] person on a road.
  3. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to pedestrian workers doing maintenance or construction work on a highway whenever the driver is notified of the presence of such workers by a person or a warning sign.

Iowa Code section 321.329, a violation of this law related to the duty of a driver to avoid hitting a pedestrian is negligence.


Special Rules for a Child Darting into the Roadway

The standard jury instructions at 600.53 for the “Duty Of Driver - Child Darting Case” recognize special rules that apply when a child darts into the roadway. Those jury instructions provide:

When a child is in plain view upon a public [street] [highway] so that the driver of an automobile sees, or in the exercise of ordinary care should see the child in time to reduce [his] [her] speed and have control of the automobile so as to avoid the child, the driver must realize the child may act without any care or may suddenly and unexpectedly leave a place of safety and move into the path of the automobile.

This is one of the circumstances you may consider in determining whether (name) was exercising ordinary care in the operation of [his] [her] automobile. This instruction applies to a child adjacent to the roadway but does not necessarily apply to a child on the traveled way.


Special Rules for Blind Pedestrians with a White Cane

Iowa law provides for special rules of the road when a driver encounters a blind pedestrian using a white cane. Those rules are recognized in the standard jury instruction 600.54 for White Canes Restricted To Blind Persons - Duty Of Drivers which provides:

The driver of any vehicle who approaches or comes in contact with a person wholly or partially blind carrying a cane or walking stick which is [white or white tipped with red] [being led by a guide dog wearing a harness and walking on either side of or slightly in front of the blind person], shall immediately come to a complete stop and take any necessary precautions to avoid accident or injury to the blind person.

A violation of this law for blind pedestrians with a white cane is considered to be negligence under Iowa Code section 321.333.


Finding a Lawyer for Pedestrian's Injured in Des Moines, Iowa

If you were injured by a negligent driver by the driver of a motor vehicle, then contact a personal injury attorney at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. in Des Moines, Iowa. Our motor vehicle accident attorneys represent pedestrians injured in a crash by a negligent driver throughout Iowa. 

Understanding the rules of the road in Iowa is important to proving negligence and maximizing the recovery in the case for the injured pedestrian. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call (515) 279-9700 today.


This article was last updated on Friday, July 7, 2017.

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