Who is Responsible for Pedestrian Fatalities? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Who is Responsible for Pedestrian Fatalities?

Pedestrian accidents are on the decline in Ontario. According to the Ministry of Transportation reports, the number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents dropped to 2,858 in 2020 from 4,117 in 2019. While that is undoubtedly good news, that number should actually be zero.


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A majority of these cases are preventable and often the result of driver negligence. The tragedy is that those who survive with serious injuries may be left with medical bills and income loss because they cannot work.

Those who don’t survive leave behind loved ones that may depend on them for emotional, physical, and financial support. Who is responsible for pedestrian fatalities? A pedestrian accident lawyer will be able to tell you based on the circumstances.

Whatever the case may be, you, as a personal injury victim or wrongful death survivor, may be able to get some compensation for your losses. Pedestrian accident lawyers will know how to advise you and what to do to ensure you don’t have to bear the consequences of someone else’s negligence alone.

How Driver Negligence Causes Pedestrian Fatalities

Negligence is one area of tort law dealing with the breach of duty of care caused by carelessness, not intentional harm. Nevertheless, it results in bodily injury or death to another. In the case of pedestrian accidents, drivers are generally considered at fault.

That is probably why driver negligence results in more pedestrian fatalities compared to other causes. Motor vehicles and pedestrians share the same space. When a driver is distracted, in a hurry, intoxicated, reckless, or careless, there is a good chance they will hit a pedestrian at some point. On the other hand, pedestrians do not always follow the laws about crossing roads or keeping to sidewalks, so they may be partly at fault when involved in a pedestrian accident.

That said, Ontario law places much of the burden of ensuring the safety of pedestrians on drivers in cases of bodily injury or death. Generally, the victim or surviving relatives would have to prove the negligence of the other part when suing for compensation. In Ontario, the burden of proof is on the driver who has to show the absence of negligence or improper conduct. However, failing to prove they are not at fault for the accident does not guarantee a ruling in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit.


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Other Causes of Pedestrian Fatalities

A comprehensive review of pedestrian fatalities in Ontario by the Ministry of Transportation identified the following factors that caused pedestrian accidents leading to death.

  • Driver’s failure to yield:  Drivers do not yield to pedestrians when turning left or right or when going through crosswalks.
  • Vehicle speed: Drivers go too fast for conditions, i.e., poor visibility, without necessarily exceeding the speed limit.
  • Pedestrian distractions: Pedestrians talking on mobile phones, texting, listening to music, etc., are factors in many fatalities.
  • Pedestrian crossing against the signal: Not waiting for the “Walk” sign can easily lead to a pedestrian accident.
  • Driver inattention/distraction: The most common cause of pedestrian accidents is when drivers take their eyes off the road when talking to passengers, using a mobile phone, or other distractions.
  • Pedestrian disabilities: People requiring the use of mobility devices such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs are more likely to be hit by a bicycle or motor vehicle than those without mobility challenges.
  • Alcohol and/or drugs in drivers or pedestrians: Physical and cognitive impairment induced by intoxicating substances in drivers or pedestrians is a significant factor in pedestrian fatalities.
  • Male drivers: Men are disproportionately represented (70%) as drivers involved in pedestrian accidents.
  • Senior citizens: Ontario and the US report similar findings that seniors (over 65) are disproportionately represented (36%) in pedestrian accidents.


Tips on How to Lessen Pedestrian Fatalities

Pedestrian fatalities are tragic because they are preventable. You can avoid the consequences of pedestrian accidents either as a driver or pedestrian by acting on the following tips.


  • Never take your eyes off the road. If you must check a message, take a call, or program your navigation app, pull over to the side of the road. Checking or answering a text takes about 5 seconds or 300 meters for a car traveling 40 km/h. For perspective, that is more than three times the length of a hockey field.
  • Avoid speeding on city streets. Urban areas are always teeming with people, and pedestrians are not always careful about where or when they cross the street. Keep your speed down, so you have time to react if a child chases a ball right in front of you or someone runs across the street mid-block.
  • Drive according to conditions. Always drive as appropriate for the conditions. Bad roads, poor visibility, rain, and fog can make it hard to avoid hitting pedestrians if you are going too fast. Slow down and keep your windshield and windows clear of obstructions.
  • Be patient. Section 144 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act requires drivers to stop entirely at crosswalks to allow pedestrians to cross the street before continuing. That can take a long time if many people are crossing or disabled or senior citizens, so be prepared to be patient.


  • Look both ways before crossing. The first thing parents teach children is to look both ways before crossing the street. Even if a pedestrian has the right of way, that will not help if they get hit by a car because they failed to look both ways before crossing.
  • Make eye contact. Research shows that making eye contact with the driver increases your chances of crossing the road safely, especially in areas with lots of fast-moving traffic. Drivers are more likely to stop if you stare directly into their eyes.
  • Use the sidewalk. The purpose of sidewalks is to keep pedestrians safe from cars and bicycles. Use them.
  • Be visible to drivers. Drivers have to see you to avoid you, and that can be difficult if you are not moving or the visibility is poor, i.e., nighttime. Make sure the driver sees you before you cross the road by waving a hand or moving to a lighted area.


Fatal Injuries Resulting from Pedestrian Accidents

Traumatic brain injury

A traumatic brain injury often results in pedestrian accidents at the moment of impact, causing the head to sustain a sudden and severe blow or penetration of the brain tissue by some object. The injury may include bleeding, bruising, or tearing of the nerve fibers that eventually lead to death.

Traumatic asphyxia

Traumatic asphyxia is the mechanical compression of the thorax or chest that prevents the person from breathing, resulting in death. In pedestrian accidents, this commonly occurs when the victim is run over by the vehicle, resulting in the chest collapsing onto the lungs.

Multiple traumatic injuries

Pedestrian accidents often result in bone fractures and organ damage, especially if the vehicle is traveling at high speed. These injuries often prove fatal eventually.

Find out who can be held legally responsible for pedestrian fatalities by talking to an experienced personal injury lawyer from Diamond & Diamond today.

Pro Tip

Always have the presence of mind when you’re walking outside to avoid possible accidents.

Contact Diamond & Diamond Lawyers Today

Pedestrian fatalities are always tragic, especially if they are the result of driver negligence. While the driver might not be entirely at fault, they are ultimately responsible for pedestrian fatalities. They bear the responsibility of ensuring public safety when operating a vehicle.

Even if the accident does not result in death, the consequences for a pedestrian can be devastating. Whiplash, broken bones, burns, scarring, traumatic brain injury, or some other kind of injury can be expensive to treat, especially if they require long-term health care.

If you or a loved one is a victim of a pedestrian accident leading to injury or death, you should contact our pedestrian accident lawyers to get compensation. The lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have decades of experience in handling pedestrian accident cases and have successfully settled them for millions. We work on contingency, meaning you do not have to pay unless we recover money for you.

Call 1-800-567-HURT (4878) and schedule your free consultation today.

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