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On February 5th, a 13 year old boy was struck by a car on Highway 99 in Lynnwood while trying to cross the street. He was not at a designated crosswalk but was waved across by motorists that were stopped in rush hour traffic.

This situation raises an interesting question of fault. Until the early 1970’s, if a person was even partially responsible for his own injuries he was not entitled to recover anything. The Washington legislature changed this rule for the better in 1974. Now, some negligence on the part of the injured person is not a complete bar to recovery. Instead, the injured person’s claim is reduced by his percentage of fault.

For instance, let’s say a jury finds (1) the injured person suffered $100,000 in damges and (2) the injured person is 13 percent at fault for his own injuries. In that case, the injured person’s damages would be reduced by $13,000 (and there would be a verdict and judgment of $87,000 against the defendant).

All things considered, should pedestrians be entitled to recover for their personal injuries if they are not in a marked crosswalk? Doesn’t the driver still have the responsibility of avoiding hitting pedestrians regardless of where they cross the street? It’s important to note that the boy (or his parents) can potentially make a case against the drivers who waved him through as well as the driver who actually hit him. In the event the boy can’t identify the drivers who waved him through, he may be able to make a claim under his parent’s Under Insured Motorist policy, providing they have a one, of course.

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