Various police statistics report that pedestrians account for more than half of all deaths on city-controlled roads across Canada. Despite the increase in jaywalking fines and installment of advanced pedestrian lights in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), pedestrian car accidents have continued to increase since 2015.

According to the Motor Vehicle Act, a pedestrian is defined as any road user outside a motor vehicle and who is not a cyclist or motorcyclist. All Nova Scotia auto insurance policies include mandatory Accident Benefits coverage. Suppose you are hit by a car as a pedestrian. In that case, you are entitled to Accident Benefits coverage under the policy of the driver who hit you.

When a pedestrian is hit by a car, it is often the pedestrian who sustains severe injuries as a result of the crash. Even when obeying traffic signals, crosswalks, and taking all of the necessary precautions to be a responsible pedestrian, car accidents are unpredictable and can change your life in an instant. 

What are the Common Pedestrian Car Accident Injuries

The person operating the motor vehicle is protected by a metal frame, airbags, seat belts, and other safety features designed by the manufacturer. Pedestrians are vulnerable to their surroundings and left completely exposed to the impact of a car crash. Not only can the vehicle cause the pedestrian to suffer severe, even fatal injuries, but if the force of the impact pushes the person into another solid object, this can result in what is called a secondary injury. An example of a secondary injury would be the car’s initial collision that broke the pedestrian’s leg, caused them to fall back into a light post, fracturing their skull.

Reasons for car accidents caused by the motorist

  • Distracted driving 
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence
  • Car malfunctions

Reasons for car accidents caused by the pedestrian

  • Ignoring traffic signals
  • Walking outside of a crosswalk
  • Walking outside of a sidewalk
  • Walking along a highway
  • Jaywalking
  • Intoxication

Common pedestrian injuries

  • Skull fractures
  • Brain swelling 
  • Concussions
  • Bruising and cuts
  • Hemorrhages
  • Hematomas (blood clots)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Torn and sprained ligaments 
  • Fractures to the leg bones, hips, pelvis, arms, and ribs

These accidents often turn into a “hit-and-run,” especially if traffic conditions are light or the driver is in a rural area with minimal day-to-day traffic. Drivers tend to panic after a pedestrian car accident because they know even a slight impact could result in severe injuries to the person hit by the car. While the driver in a pedestrian accident is usually considered the negligent party, there are instances where the pedestrian may have contributed to the negligence of the accident. 

Pedestrian Car Accidents Laws in Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, both drivers and pedestrians have the legal responsibility to use the road safely and operate in a careful manner. Drivers are held to a certain standard of care and must consider all foreseeable pedestrian risks. An example of a foreseeable risk would be a person crossing the road without following traffic rules or using a marked crosswalk, otherwise known as jaywalking. 

Nova Scotia Pedestrian Laws

  • Under the Motorola Vehicle Act of Nova Scotia, a pedestrian has the right of way if they are already in a crosswalk when a vehicle approaches.
  • The pedestrian does not have the right of way in a crosswalk if a vehicle approaches and the pedestrian has not yet entered the crosswalk. 
  • A pedestrian cannot leave a place of safety (a sidewalk, for example) and step in front of an oncoming vehicle that cannot reasonably stop to avoid hitting the pedestrian. 
  • A pedestrian crossing a roadway and not within a crosswalk must yield the right of way to vehicles.
  • It is considered an offence for a pedestrian to disobey traffic instructions at an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic signals.
  • A pedestrian is required to walk along provided sidewalks following a highway.
  • Where sidewalks are not provided on the side of a highway, a pedestrian shall only walk on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic.


In a car accident involving two or more motor vehicles, the injured person is responsible for proving that the other driver’s negligence caused the collision. The Insurance Act reverses this rule for pedestrians stating that the driver who hits the pedestrian is considered to be at fault until proven otherwise. 

Contributory Negligence

In some cases, negligence is shared between the driver and pedestrian. Suppose a pedestrian is distracted on their phone while crossing the road at or near a crosswalk. In that case, the pedestrian may be held partially at fault for the accident. When the fault is split between the driver and the pedestrian, this is referred to as Contributory Negligence. 

When a pedestrian is considered to be partially at fault for a car accident, their compensation will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to them. For example, if the insurance company (or courts in the instance of a personal injury lawsuit) assigned 40% fault to the pedestrian, the compensation for his/her damages will be reduced by 40%. 

What if you are the driver of the vehicle involved in a car accident and believe the pedestrian was at fault for your damages? You can pursue a lawsuit against them just like you would in a car accident with another driver. However, there is no insurance for walking like there is for driving, which could make it difficult for you to recover any compensation from the pedestrian.

Section B Accident Benefit Coverage

Nova Scotia has a standard form automobile insurance policy that applies to every insured driver. Under Section B of this standard form policy, drivers that are injured in a car accident are entitled to coverage for:

  • Up to $50,000 in medical expenses
  • Funeral expenses up to $2,500 and some death benefits
  • Income replacement benefits up to $1,000 per month

Medical coverage will typically last up to four years. Income replacement benefits can continue as long as you can prove entitlement. You can bring a claim against the person responsible for injuries to pay for medical costs over and above what is covered by Section B in your insurance policy. 

What to Do if You are Struck by a Car While Walking

If you have been hit by a car while walking, what you say and do following a car accident can seriously impact your ability to receive compensation. Knowing the steps to take when you have been injured in a car crash can help protect your safety and the benefits you are entitled to. 

What to do as a pedestrian in a car accident

  • Seek medical attention. Call 911 regardless of how severe you believe your injuries are. Not only will calling first responders ensure that you receive immediate medical treatment, but you will also have an official medical document that identifies your injuries, their severity, and any additional treatment you may need to receive. The police will also generate a written report that may be required for you to file a claim or initiate a lawsuit. 
  • Gather information. Record as much information from the scene of the accident as you can. Examples of important details to record would be the driver’s contact details and insurance information, the license plate number, photos of your injuries and damages to the vehicle, and contact information from any witnesses of the accident. 
  • Seek legal counsel. Whether you are filing a claim with an insurance provider or pursuing legal action, seeking advice from a lawyer who specializes in pedestrian injury will significantly improve your chances of getting the compensation you deserve. 

It is important to remember that we all share the road and need to work together to ensure everyone’s safety. As a pedestrian, any time you are around motor vehicles, there is always a risk of getting into a collision with a car. Knowing how to avoid a pedestrian accident will help protect yourself and others on the road. 

Safety tips to avoid pedestrian car accidents

  • Stick to designated crossing areas
  • Don’t expect drivers to see you
  • Look around stopped vehicles
  • Leave distance between your car and the road when pulling over
  • Wear visible or reflective clothing when walking at night

Contact the Experienced Pedestrian Lawyers of Valent Legal

The pedestrian accident lawyers at Valent Legal have the knowledge and expertise to take over the claims process for you, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries. We understand the toll car accidents and personal injury can have on you and your loved ones. Our team is prepared to gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and argue your case in court if necessary. 

At Valent Legal, we believe that dealing with a personal injury lawyer shouldn’t be stressful. That is why we strive to provide a compassionate client experience, remaining accessible and working closely with personal injury clients every step of the way. Valent Legal is committed to getting you the financial compensation you deserve to help you regain your life.

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