Being a pedestrian usually means that you have the right of way when it comes to traffic laws.
This was implemented to keep pedestrians from being struck by a vehicle. What about other types of harm that can come to someone walking on the sidewalk?
What can be done if a car splashes water on you while you are out walking? Nothing is worse than getting hit by a large splash from a dirty puddle during a rainstorm.
Is the driver actually at fault?
Why it is NOT Against the Law to Splash a Pedestrian:
Splashing a pedestrian with water while you are driving is not normally illegal. However, if the driver went out of their way to purposefully splash the pedestrian with ill-intent, there may be some consequences for the driver.
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Can Drivers Get a Fine For Splashing Puddles on Pedestrians?
When it comes to whether or not a driver can actually be ticketed and then fined for splashing a pedestrian with water from a puddle, it all comes down to the surrounding circumstances.
Yes, a driver can be ultimately fined for this, but, as mentioned, it must be under certain circumstances.
First, the pedestrian must prove that the driver meant to splash them with water.
While many drivers may go out of their way to avoid giant puddles when the sidewalks are full of pedestrians, no rule says you must avoid them.
Accidental splashes will not result in any further action. Also, it can be rather difficult to prove intent if there isn’t any record of the incident.
Luckily, many homes have doorbell cameras, and cities use CCTV or closed-circuit television to record events.
These types of surveillance generally happen near busier intersections. So, if you were walking in a populated area when the incident occurred, there is a good chance it was caught on camera.
While not many specific laws are in place to protect pedestrians from getting splashed with a puddle, there is one thing to consider.
Common pedestrian accident laws state that both the driver and the pedestrian must show reasonable concern for each other when either driving or walking.
This means that if the driver intended to splash the walking pedestrian, which in turn means that they purposefully drove through a puddle in hopes of causing harm, they have violated the rule for showing reasonable concern.
In cases like this, the driver can expect to be ticketed and fined at the very least.
How Big of a Fine Can the Driver Get?
Being fined for splashing a pedestrian with water all depends on whether or not the driver used gross negligence when doing so.
If the pedestrian can prove that the driver was intent on doing so, the driver can receive a fine from the police of up to $175.
However, this is only the case in the U.S. In other countries, like the U.K., the fine is much higher and reaches thousands per incident.
It should also be noted that some countries even attach jail time to an incident like this.
Why is it So Severe?
Many different factors go into whether or not someone can receive a hefty fine, but the main thing to consider is if there was any actual harm done.
Besides the harsh sting of embarrassment, splashing a pedestrian with a puddle can seriously harm the pedestrian.
Water sitting in puddles is far from clean and filtered and can have anything from glass, rocks, chemicals, and even human waste in it. Splashing a large amount of contaminated water onto someone is dangerous because it can get into their eyes and mouth, which can, in turn, cause a lot of health problems.
Not to mention that the force from the car can stir up other things in the puddle, like glass which can certainly harm someone when it propels with giant force.
Even if the police decide not to pursue a fine for the driver, the driver may still be liable. A pedestrian is entitled to file a civil damages lawsuit against the driver.
This is especially true if the pedestrian sustains images from the incident or even had damage done to the property on their body at the time.
What Can You Do If a Car Splashes You on Purpose While Walking?
The first thing to note when you get splashed by a car while walking is that chances are the driver will not be prompted to stop and help.
Especially if the driver intended to splash you, they might not be obliged to stick around.
So, the first thing you should do is take note of the car’s make and model and try to grab a license plate number if possible.
Next, make sure that you don’t have any physical injuries. If you are injured, don’t hesitate to call 911 if you require immediate attention. If your injuries are not severe enough for emergency help, document them by taking pictures and then make sure to be seen by a doctor.
Puddle water is full of bacteria and germs, so you want to ensure that any wounds are properly cleaned and dressed to help avoid infection.
If you are not injured in any way, but some damage was done to your personal property, make sure to document everything. Even make sure to take pictures of your clothing if it is destroyed or damaged.
Next, you will want to file a report with the police.
If you feel strongly enough that the car ignored reasonable concern for your well-being, you want to ensure that your complaint is on file in case further legal action is needed.
If the police are unwilling to investigate, you may still have a solid civil case.
So, having clear documentation of all damages and injuries, as well as the report that you filed with the police, will give you the best chance for a positive outcome.
What Are The Rules Across the U.S. States?
All states have rules in place that are there to protect pedestrians.
More specifically, all states have a rule stating that no motor vehicles should be recklessly or maliciously used their vehicle to harm pedestrians.
While this doesn’t specifically cover splashing a pedestrian with a puddle, charges can be filed in severe cases where the pedestrian sustained injustice to their person or to their personal property.
The only country that specifically makes it illegal to splash pedestrians with water while driving in Japan.
However, some U.S. states have more serious rules in place for this type of incident.
For example, Michigan has a law that states that no vehicle should use ill intent to splash water or mud on a pedestrian who is traveling along the road.
Other states that have more severe rules against this are Oregon and Alaska. In these states, if severe harm is found paired with malicious intent, there can be a fine of up to $1000, plus it may even come with some jail time, depending on the severity of the injuries.
While not every state has rules in place to protect pedestrians in this way, all states will allow you to pursue legal action through a civil lawsuit.
However, this means that you will be responsible for obtaining legal representation to make your case viable.