Last week in our blog series on Georgia’s rules of the road and negligence per se, we discussed statutes 40-6-21 and 40-6-23, both of which deal with traffic signals and what they mean for drivers. We also mentioned what those motorist-oriented signals mean for pedestrians when there are no pedestrian signals available.
This week, we’ll be covering the statute we skipped, 40-6-22, which specifically addresses pedestrian signals and what they mean.
Remember, road statutes can be helpful in determining liability after an accident, because these laws are designed to protect the public safety, and any action that violates a law designed to protect the public safety is automatically considered negligent under the concept of negligence per se. This eliminates a lot of the usual ambiguity in establishing fault and responsibility.
Walk and Don’t Walk Signals
The traffic signals for pedestrians are much more straightforward than those for motorists.
40-6-22. Pedestrian-control signals
Whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words WALK or DON’T WALK or symbols so directing a pedestrian are in place, such signals shall indicate as follows:
(1) Word or symbol message WALK. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal. Every driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped for such pedestrians; and
(2) Flashing or steady DON’T WALK. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the WALK signal shall proceed to sidewalk or safety island while the DON’T WALK signal is showing.
In other words, a light showing the word “walk,” or an equivalent symbol like a person in motion, means pedestrians directly across from the light are free to walk toward it. A light showing the words “don’t walk,” or an equivalent symbol like a red hand, means pedestrians directly across from the symbol may not enter the road.
Instead of yellow lights, pedestrians receive a flashing version of the “don’t walk” signal to indicate that a stop signal is coming. Unlike drivers, pedestrians may not enter the intersection during this warning period, though they may finish crossing if they’ve already started.
What If There’s a Green Light?
As we mentioned last week in our discussion of 4-6-21, pedestrians are only allowed to take cues from traffic signals designed for motorists if there are no pedestrian signals present. When a crossing is equipped with pedestrian signals, these always take precedence over regular traffic lights when determining what pedestrians are and aren’t allowed to do.
What Does This Mean for Motorists?
Drivers are required to “stop and stay stopped” for pedestrians crossing during the “walk” signal. This means drivers may not dart in front of or squeeze around pedestrians in the crosswalk. If a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, and is within a lane’s distance of the driver’s side of the street, that driver must remain stopped until the pedestrian is across.
It’s worth noting that everyone, driver and pedestrian alike, is responsible for taking reasonable care to avoid accidents, in addition to following the letter of the law. If a pedestrian crosses against the signal, and a driver makes a turn without checking the crosswalk for pedestrians, both of them might share legal responsibility for a collision.
What Damages Can You Recover If a Pedestrian Ignores a Signal?
While a pedestrian may not be able to cause as much direct damage in a collision as a vehicle can, an irresponsible pedestrian can still cause serious harm to others on the road, by forcing drivers to swerve or stop suddenly, leading to collisions with other vehicles or objects. A pedestrian who causes an accident by ignoring signals is liable for the resulting damage under negligence per se. If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by an at-fault pedestrian, any settlement you receive will be divided into special and general damages.
“Special” Damages Are Damages with an Obvious Price Tag
If you need to be treated for whiplash after an accident, the cost of your treatment would fall under special damages. The same goes if you need to replace your car, or if you’re short on paying your bills because the accident forced you to miss work. These are all examples of the concrete, financial harm a traffic accident can cause, and that’s what special damages are meant to make up for.
Make sure to keep careful track of all your accident-related expenses, as you’ll need this documentation to collect special damages. Once you’ve proven the expenses are real, you’ll also need to prove how they were caused by the defendant’s actions. To learn about proving direct or proximate cause, click here.
“General” Damages Are Damages We Can Only Take a Stab at Appraising
Traffic accidents can cause much farther-reaching damage to a person’s life than the obvious financial burden. General damages are the legal system’s best effort at making up for things like pain, stress, psychological scars, and missing out on activities you love. Because these have no agreed-upon monetary value, it’s crucial to have a skilled lawyer on your side to help make your emotional losses understood and win you the best settlement possible.
What If I’ve Lost Someone to a Pedestrian-Caused Accident?
The death of a loved one goes far beyond the general damages of a personal injury case. Wrongful death cases have their own rules, which you can learn more about here. We’re proud to assist clients in seeking justice in these situations as well.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
If they’re lucky, most people will never have to face any kind of legal proceedings. The less lucky might only have to do it once in a lifetime. At the Wetherington Firm, we handle these kinds of cases every day. We know what to expect, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to make sure the system works for our clients. The success of your case could change how well you get back on your feet after an accident, affecting your circumstances for the rest of your life. Now isn’t the time to try to teach yourself the basics of law. Now is the time to call a professional and make sure your case is handled right, while you focus on your recovery.
How to Hire the Best Car Wreck Lawyers in Atlanta
With the Wetherington Law Firm, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to scrape together the money for professional representation. We work solely on a contingency basis, which means we only accept a cut of the settlements we secure for our clients. You pay nothing up front, and nothing at all if we don’t win. You’ll never end up with less than you started with, and you won’t be forced to drop a righteous case just because your opponent has more money to drag things out with.
The Wetherington Law Firm Welcomes Clients Who Want to Change the World
If you feel that your case is more than an isolated incident, and you want to make a difference for others in your position, we’ll be happy to help you dig deeper. Even if it might mean a smaller settlement or a longer shot, we’ll support you if you want to chase a bigger, more altruistic win. Was the pedestrian who caused the accident just one in a long string of people acting out of frustration with a badly laid out intersection? We’ll investigate the real danger and work with you to fix it. To learn more about how you can help others with your case, call or email us today for a free consultation!