When an accident occurs involving a vehicle and a pedestrian, attributing the blame isn’t necessarily a straightforward process.

The Highway Code states drivers must give pedestrians right of way – but what if a pedestrian caused the accident?

Key statistics

Figures show that 453 pedestrians were fatally injured in the UK in 2011, accounting for almost a quarter (24%) of all road deaths. This also represents a rise of 12% on the previous year.

A recent report stated that children aged 12 run the highest risk of being killed or seriously injured as pedestrians, with one in 651 children of that age reported as a pedestrian casualty.

The report, ‘Stepping Out’, was commissioned by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS).

PACTS executive director David Davies said casualties peak at 12 because pupils start secondary school and become more independent.

He said: “They may not have had any significant pedestrian or road safety training. My impression is that pedestrian safety training used to be routine for years but is being squeezed out because of pressure from the national curriculum.”

Pedestrians: Making a claim

Sometimes, the fault indisputably lies with the driver. In this case, pedestrians are entitled to make a personal injury claim.

To help your case and prove that the blame lies with someone else, you should take names, addresses and also the phone numbers of any witnesses. Take photos of the accident if possible.

Remember to call the police before leaving the scene to report the incident.

Drivers: Disputing a claim

A driver may dispute a claim because they believe the fault lies with the pedestrian. The PACTS report revealed that the failure of pedestrians to look properly is the biggest contributory factor in accidents (60%), followed by pedestrians being “careless, reckless or in a hurry” which accounted for around a quarter of cases.

Drivers failing to look properly accounted for around 20% of cases.

However, since pedestrians are most at risk of being seriously injured in a road traffic collision, they must be given right of way by motorists.

For example, rule 170 of the Highway Code states that drivers must “watch out for pedestrians crossing the road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority so give way”.

If a pedestrian has not crossed the road at a designated pedestrian crossing, this may reduce their chances of claiming compensation. Similarly, if a pedestrian stepped out into the road without looking and was immediately hit by a vehicle, the accident may be classed as the pedestrian’s fault.