What are Pedestrians’ Rights in Alabama?

by Aaron Gartlan

January 27, 2021 | Pedestrian Accidents

People on foot are vulnerable to serious injuries when crossing streets, walking along highways or navigating intersections. Pedestrian accidents happen all too often in Alabama. The frequency of pedestrian accidents could be greatly reduced if drivers were more attentive and remained alert for pedestrians.

If you have been hurt in a pedestrian accident, it is important to understand your legal rights to seek compensation for your medical bills and loss of income.

A Dothan personal injury lawyer at Gartlan Injury Law can review the details of the pedestrian accident and discuss your rights to seek compensation from the driver who hit you. You should not have to pay for medical bills for injuries caused by a careless driver.

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way in Alabama?

It is a common misconception that pedestrians always have the right of way. In fact, pedestrians have certain rights when using the roads and must yield to motorists in certain situations.

When pedestrians are on a sidewalk, pedestrians always have the right of way.

Pedestrians have the right of way to cross an intersection with the crossing signal light or WALK signal. Vehicles approaching a crosswalk must yield to any pedestrian within the driver’s half of the crosswalk.

Pedestrians must walk on the right side of the crosswalk when possible. If a pedestrian has not yet approached the driver’s half of the crosswalk but is about to, motorists are also required to yield to the pedestrian.

Pedestrians are prohibited from stepping suddenly off the curb into the path of an oncoming vehicle that is close enough to present an immediate hazard.

Pedestrians must yield to vehicles when crossing roads at points other than crosswalks.

What Rights Do Pedestrians Have When There are No Traffic Control Devices in the Area?

Alabama law requires all pedestrians to obey traffic-control devices and traffic signals. When traffic-control devices are not present at intersections, or not working, the rules of the road are that drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing  in a crosswalk and give them the right of way.

Vehicles must slow down or stop to ensure the pedestrian has a safe path to walk. If a law enforcement officer is directing traffic at an intersection that does not have functioning traffic-control devices, pedestrians must comply with the officer’s instructions.

When drivers fail to obey Alabama code and AL traffic laws and cause a pedestrian accident, the driver may be held accountable for the injuries sustained by the person on foot.

Sidewalks and Roadway Rules in AL

When sidewalks are available, pedestrians are required to use them at all times. Any time a pedestrian leaves a sidewalk, even to enter a crosswalk, they must do so carefully. Pedestrians should never dart out in front of vehicles.

Not all roads in Alabama have sidewalks, and when pedestrians are on these roads, they must walk on the shoulder keeping as much distance between them and traffic as possible. Pedestrians should walk facing traffic. If a sidewalk is available, it is illegal for pedestrians to walk on roadways.

How to Stay Safe as a Pedestrian in Alabama

Drivers do not always remain alert for pedestrians and this causes many accidents. It is imperative that pedestrians watch out for themselves to remain safe when they are out on the roads. The best pedestrian safety tips to follow when out on foot include:

  • Remain visible: It is critical that you make yourself as visible as possible to drivers. Wear reflective or light clothing when walking at night, and brightly colored clothing when walking during the day.
  • Avoid distractions:  It is crucial for pedestrians to avoid distractions when out walking. Put your phone away and do not look at it until you have come to a stop, and do not wear headphones. Being able to hear approaching vehicles can help prevent a pedestrian accident.
  • Follow all rules: It is important that all pedestrians in the state know the laws that govern pedestrians. Comply with all rules, including following traffic signs and signals and walking on sidewalks when they are available.
  • Do not make assumptions: You may know you have the right of way and start crossing in a crosswalk as a vehicle is approaching. Never assume a driver will stop and yield the right of way. Approach the crosswalk slowly to ensure the driver is stopping. Try to make eye contact with the driver before entering the intersection.
  • Refrain from alcohol: Intoxicated pedestrians are at an increased risk of being involved in an accident. Their judgment is impaired and their reactions are slower.

Even when taking precautions, a person on foot may still be injured in a pedestrian accident, unfortunately. It is important to know what to do when it does.

What to Do if You are Hurt through No Fault of Your Own

Making sure you follow the traffic laws that apply to pedestrian is important to any future claim you may file. Your right to seek compensation after a pedestrian accident depends on who was at fault. If a driver or another party was completely at fault for your accident, you can file a claim against the at-fault motorist to seek compensation. A case is particularly strong when you can show that you were complying with the laws and you were not at fault in any way for the crash.

Pedestrian accident cases in Alabama are governed by contributory negligence laws. Under these laws, if you were even one percent at fault for your accident, you are barred from receiving any compensation at all. The driver that hit you or the driver’s insurance company may try to claim that you contributed to the accident in some way and were partly at fault to avoid paying compensation to you. An Alabama pedestrian accident lawyer can stand up for your rights and push back against insurance company attempts to shift the blame. Our attorneys are familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to try to avoid paying claims.

Call Our Pedestrian Accident Lawyers in Alabama for Help with Your Claim

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you should seek legal guidance about the steps to take. At Gartlan Injury Law, our experienced Alabama pedestrian accident lawyers will take the necessary steps to protect your claim and fight for full compensation for you. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.


Aaron Gartlan is a graduate of Troy University and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law who focuses his practice exclusively on representing those injured by the wrongdoing of others. He is member of the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In addition to his legal practice, Aaron teaches Business Law as an adjunct instructor at Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business and serves as a field artillery sergeant in the Alabama National Guard.

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