I was struck by a car while walking. What are my options?
A: Many people enjoy walking the thoroughfares of Calgary and other Albertan towns and cities. Not only are they getting exercise, but they are also experiencing the sounds and sights of our province more acutely than when in a car. But that sense of enjoyment will come to an abrupt end if they are struck by a motor vehicle. If you find yourself in that situation, our team of experienced lawyers is here to ensure you get the compensation you deserve while recovering from your injuries.
How common are vehicle/auto accidents?
According to information from the federal government, there were 1,745 motor vehicle fatalities in 2020. Of those, 266 people were pedestrians. In Alberta, the provincial government reports that in 2018, 42,596 collisions were recorded on Alberta roadways. That resulted in 288 deaths and 17,055 injuries. Pedestrians accounted for 30 fatalities, almost 14 percent of the total, while 1,010 were injured. These numbers should clarify that pedestrians are at risk on our roadways.
What leads to pedestrian/automobile accidents?
Speed and disobeying traffic rules are the most common factors behind pedestrian/auto collisions. The Alberta report notes that 32.2 percent of the drivers involved in pedestrian casualty crashes were driving properly, and 47.1 percent failed to yield the right of way to pedestrians. Other common causes are going too fast for conditions, texting while driving, distracted driving and driving while intoxicated.
When do vehicle/pedestrian accidents occur?
The Alberta report notes that these collisions were more likely to occur in November. February experienced the least number of pedestrian accidents, which is understandable considering that inclement weather during that month discourages walking. Thursday is the most common day of the week for these types of accidents, while Sunday is the safest. And the evening rush hour (3 to 7 p.m.) is the most common time for these collisions.
Age is also a factor, as pedestrians between the ages of 15 and 24 are most likely to be involved in car accidents.
Can pedestrians be at fault for these accidents?
They certainly can. The Alberta study found that of the pedestrians involved in injury collisions, 6.6 percent were legally impaired, climbing to 18.2 percent when looking at pedestrians killed in auto collisions. Pedestrians 20 to 29 years of age dominated this group.
Both pedestrians and drivers must act with reasonable care on or beside our roads and highways, and failure to meet the appropriate "duty of care" can amount to negligence.
What if I was jaywalking when I was hit?
Jaywalking is frequently a factor in vehicle/auto accidents, but it does not automatically put you at fault in a pedestrian/automobile accident. Remember that jaywalking is not listed as an offence in the Criminal Code but is instead dealt with through bylaws at the municipal level.
In Calgary, pedestrians can be fined $25 to $60 for jaywalking. A city bylaw states that pedestrians cannot:
- Cross a street within one block of a traffic control signal other than at a crosswalk;
- Cross an LRT track except on a sidewalk or a crosswalk; or
- Cross the LRT track while the control devices (gates, lights or bells) indicate that crossing is prohibited.
- Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk. If a driver fails to stop for you in a crosswalk, they could be fined $810 and lose four demerit points. However, pedestrians are still responsible for exercising due care and ensuring all vehicles yield before entering the crosswalk.
If you are crossing the street outside the crosswalk, many factors must be considered to determine fault. Were you safely crossing the road and paying attention to oncoming traffic? Was the driver who hit you speeding or driving recklessly?
Whatever the situation, our lawyers can determine what happened and assess your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.
What do I do if I am hit by a vehicle?
If you are injured, call 911 for the medical attention you need. Please keep track of any medical records and receipts for costs that are not covered by our healthcare system. Those will be important in showing the damages you suffered.
You should try to gather evidence to support your claim. Find out if anyone witnessed the accident and record their names and contact information. Capture photos at the scene, such as the licence plate number and marks on the vehicle that hit you.
If police investigate, be sure to cooperate. Request a copy of their report when it is finished. It will contain unbiased information about the person driving the car and what the police found when investigating the incident.
How does reverse onus help me?
In most civil cases, the injured party must prove that the defendant caused their injuries. In Alberta, s. 185 of the Traffic Safety Act creates a reverse onus of proof where the driver of a vehicle has to prove the loss or damage did not arise by reason due to their failure to drive safely. This is an important provision for pedestrians injured in an auto accident.
Many variables are at play when a pedestrian and a motor vehicle come into contact, though it is almost certain the pedestrian will emerge with the most damage.