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Careless pedestrian may collect damages in some car accidents

Pedestrians are always vulnerable to danger when they walk on the roadways at night in what is often poor visibility. Car accidents involving pedestrians in New Hampshire and elsewhere are characteristically perplexing when it comes to determining liability. In the case of serious personal injury or death of a pedestrian from a vehicular accident, the personal injury attorney may face a daunting task in proving liability and obtaining a settlement for the client.

A recent accident in Durham illustrates the point. A 22-year-old man who is stationed with the Coast Guard was critically injured at about 4 a.m. on Sept. 30 when he was hit by a bread delivery truck on a road near W. Arthur Grant Circle. According to a report received by the Durham emergency dispatch center just a few minutes prior to the accident, the man was spotted standing in the Westbound lane "almost on the double line."

The man was taken to a hospital where he was undergoing surgery. The Stafford County forensic reconstruction unit was working on the investigation. Photos that were published showed the victim was apparently hit near the center line. Normally, a nighttime accident like this would generally rule out payment of damages to the pedestrian due to the fact that his own negligence would rule it out.

However, comparative negligence standards in New Hampshire may provide for a recovery in such car accidents involving pedestrians where recovery would have been impossible under older contributory negligence rules. The man's location in the center of the roadway tends to partly or even fully absolve him of liability, depending on the further discovery of the facts. Those circumstances could indicate negligence by the delivery truck driver, such as his failing to keep a proper lookout on the road ahead, which is one of the basic principles of negligence under the common law and which has been incorporated into the modern vehicle codes of most states.  

Source: seacoastonline.com, "Durham pedestrian struck by van, badly hurt", Judi Currie, Sept. 30, 2016

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