young woman walks on the crosswalk and checks her smartphone for messages and does not pay any attention to traffic.

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Pedestrians often become unknowing (and physically unprotected) targets of negligent or reckless behavior by drivers.

Crashes involving pedestrians account for a significant number of traffic accident injuries. It makes sense; the pedestrian is unprotected by the body of a vehicle, leaving him or her entirely vulnerable. The statistics brought forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide evidence to this logic. Also, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than automobile passengers to be killed in a car accident.

According to the CDC, in 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents which comes to about one crash-related pedestrian fatality every 1.6 hours. Additionally, just under 130,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for injuries resulting from an accident in 2015.

Recently, a 59-year-old man named Steven Ray Tracy was hit by a car in Lexington, Kentucky. He was killed after being severly injured with trauma to the head. Police, who are investigating the early morning incident as an accident, stated that the man was hit while crossing the street in or near a designated crosswalk.

The man is already the sixth pedestrian killed by a vehicle in Lexington this year.

The law regarding liability in this type of accident and others involving pedestrians is complex. While most people may assume that these accidents are the fault of drivers, the pedestrian may be partially or totally at fault, especially in cases of jaywalking. Jaywalking is defined differently and encompasses different offenses depending on the jurisdiction.

If the pedestrian fails to obey state and local traffic laws and exercises unsafe behavior when crossing or walking on a road, he or she may be at fault. While this is the general rule, accident attorney Henry Queener explains that that is not always the case. In Tennessee, “if the motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he/she will likely be found liable, even if the pedestrian is jaywalking.” Specific laws and their implications vary by state and jurisdiction.

Regardless of who is ultimately at fault, motorists are prohibited by the law to leave the scene of an accident. Drivers who leave the scene may be charged with offenses ranging from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the circumstances of the incident and the damage and injury inflicted.