car verses pedestrian, is it always the drivers fault?

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car verses pedestrian, is it always the drivers fault?

Driving home on 35th ct elementary school was letting out. Little girl about 10
runs out into road and hits the front drivers side of my van. She was knocked to
the ground visible upset but did not seem to be hurt. I told her not to move but
the other children came over insisted she get up, she did and they all left. One
of the ladys at the school said she saw the whole thing. I did not know what to
do so I got my van out of the road. I spoke to the police officer at the school
I told him what occurred and if he needed me where I would be. He came to my home
about an hour later said the girl was ok except for a scraped elbow.
I now have a letter 3 weeks later from lawyers asking for my auto insurance info
on the accident I caused. Is this a normal process?

Asked on November 7, 2016 under Personal Injury, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It is normal in that it is common for the other side to seek payment or compensation from you even when you're not at fault--sometimes that's "innocent" in that the other party truly believes (even if incorrectly) that you, not they, were at fault; and sometimes it's a cynical attempt to cash in; but in either event, it does occur often.
No, the driver is not automatically at always at fault--to use a clear example, if a car is stopped at a street light and a texting-while-walking pedestrian walks into the stationary car and chips a tooth, that's the pedestrian's fault, since the was not even moving and the pedestrian was looking in front of him/her. Fault is based on who was negligent, or unreasoanbly careless. 
The above said:
1) Drivers have the duty and expectation to watch out for and yield to pedestrians. If all things are equal, it's the driver's fault generally; typically, the pedestrian must be very clearly at fault for it to be her fault.
2) Fault is judged by context and the nature of the parties. If you are near a school, you have to drive more carefully than ever (especially at dismissal time), due to the likelihood of children in the street. And whether a 10 year  old was being reasonably careful or not is judged by what we expect of a 10-year-old, not what we expect of an adult. For these reasons, there is a good chance that you would be found to be fault, based on what you write.


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