Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?
Calendar icon November 17, 2023
Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?


  • Drivers and pedestrians must yield to another party that has the right-of-way, which means they can drive through an intersection or pass through a crosswalk
  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way when a car reaches a yield sign, stop sign, or red light
  • Drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way can cause pedestrian accidents
  • Victims of pedestrian accidents can hold the at-fault parties accountable for the injuries and damages they caused

When a pedestrian comes to an intersection, there are traffic control signals that can indicate right-of-way. This is when a pedestrian has the legal right to continue with their foot commute, and drivers must yield to them to let the pedestrian cross the street. Pedestrians have the right-of-way when they have a walk signal across the street.

In this case, the drivers who could drive through the crosswalk the pedestrian must cross will have a red light. This means they must stop, yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, and allow them to cross the street. Failing to do so can lead to a driver crashing into a pedestrian, causing a pedestrian accident that can result in severe injuries and damages.

What Does It Mean to Have the Right-of-Way?

Pedestrian accidents occur when a driver fails to yield right-of-way and crashes into one. Right-of-way is a legal concept that states that someone must stop their commute (whether on foot, on a bicycle, or in a motor vehicle) to allow others to advance. For example, a red light indicates that drivers in one lane must stop and yield to drivers in a lane with a green light.

The law never indicates whether someone has the right of way. Instead, it indicates who must yield it to another party. Drivers and pedestrians must stay wary of situations where they come into contact with other parties and allow them to pass before continuing their commute. Yielding right-of-way can help prevent a pedestrian accident.

Where Do Pedestrians Have the Right-of-Way?

When a traffic control signal indicates it, a pedestrian has the right of way. In front of a red light or stop sign, drivers must stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian passing through the crosswalk. A driver may also come to a yield sign in which they should stop and allow any pedestrian to cross the street.

Drivers should yield to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks to avoid causing a pedestrian accident. However, pedestrians must also follow road rules and not walk out into the street in front of a car that does not have the proper time to stop. Drivers should also yield to pedestrians when returning to the road from the shoulder or when turning left.

Pedestrians also have the right-of-way in parking lots. Drivers entering or exiting parking lots must ensure the path they intend to drive does not have pedestrians. If pedestrians walk through the parking lot, the driver must stop to allow them to pass or delay pulling out until the path is clear.

What Can Happen If a Driver Does Not Yield the Right-of-Way to a Pedestrian?

If a driver fails to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, they can cause a pedestrian accident. Someone walking through a crosswalk will not be able to avoid a car going at a fast speed that can crash directly into them. Pedestrian accidents commonly occur in intersections when drivers do not pay attention or speed through a red light.

A driver engaging in reckless driving when they should yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian can expose pedestrians to significant bodily harm. They can suffer severe injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), broken bone, or spinal cord injury

Filing a Pedestrian Accident Claim Against a Driver Who Failed to Yield the Right-of-Way

Drivers are responsible for pedestrian safety, as they must stop to allow pedestrians to pass through a crosswalk. Failing to do so and negligently passing through a crosswalk when they should stop can cause a pedestrian accident.

Reckless or negligent drivers can be liable for damages in a pedestrian accident claim. Their behavior directly caused the pedestrian accident that resulted in severe injuries and damages. Pedestrian accident victims can file a civil claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company to pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages.

Contact Cellino Law for Help With Your Pedestrian Accident Claim

At Cellino Law, our pedestrian accident lawyers can help you with the process of filing a civil claim to pursue compensation for damages. We understand the effect pedestrian accident injuries can have on a person’s physical health. We realize how the pain of these injuries can affect your daily life and how the trauma of the accident can affect your quality of life.

Our pedestrian accident attorneys wish to use their settlement negotiation and court experience to help you recover fair compensation for damages. Contact Cellino Law today for a free pedestrian accident consultation by calling us at 888-888-8888 or leaving a message on our online contact page.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pedestrian Accidents

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way?

Pedestrians will only sometimes have the right-of-way. Sometimes, they may want to pass through a crosswalk, but the sign indicates they cannot yet. They must yield the right-of-way to cars with a green light to advance through the intersection.

A pedestrian who fails to yield right-of-way to drivers can walk directly into the path of a car. They can expose themselves to pedestrian accident risk, possibly causing severe blunt-force trauma. Pedestrians must pay attention to know whether they have the right-of-way and always remain cautious to avoid causing a pedestrian accident.

Who Has the Right-of-Way at an Open Intersection?

An open intersection is one that lacks traffic control signals. A driver or pedestrian can come to an intersection without knowing who has the right-of-way based on the lack of signs and signals. 

Drivers must yield the right-of-way at an open intersection to any pedestrian that arrived there before them. Speeding through an open intersection without stopping to stop for other drivers and pedestrians can cause a catastrophic accident that leads to serious injuries.

Should You Hire a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?

Victims of pedestrian accidents can suffer damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Filing a pedestrian accident claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company can allow them to pursue compensation for damages. However, handling the claim without legal expertise can lead to mistakes that can hurt their ability to recover fair compensation.

Hiring a pedestrian accident lawyer can help with the claims process. They can use their experience and expertise to advise a pedestrian accident victim through the multiple steps involved in the process. They can assess damages, determine liability, speak to witnesses, gather evidence, and negotiate a fair settlement.

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Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.



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