All drivers will experience these scenarios: (1) a kid chasing a ball darts from between parked cars directly into the car's path, (2) a bike rider wobbles in front of a passing car; or (3) at night, a drunk pedestrian tries to cross the road in a vehicle's path. A collision occurs between the driver and the darting kid, the bike rider, or the drunk pedestrian. Various prices will be paid for the collision. The injured person pays with life or limb. And a legal price may be paid by the driver's insurance company in some circumstances. Let's examine them.
The specific facts of a case determine which laws apply. In the darting child case, the child chasing the ball into a street is obligated to stop and watch for traffic if he's old enough to exercise such judgment. Under the law, that's at about age 6. While an older child can be partially at fault for his injury, so can the driver if he or she was inattentive, speeding, or should have known that the event could be in the making.
Foreseeability is an important concept in negligence law. If the driver saw kids playing ball near the street, the argument is that he should have thought that a kid, concealed by the parked cars, might come out to get an errant ball. Since this scenario is reasonably foreseeable, the driver must slow down to whatever speed is necessary to avoid injury. If he doesn't, and the child is hurt, the driver's insurance company will pay the price.
But if children weren't playing near the street and the injury occurred in a non-residential area, the driver has a good defense to a negligence claim. The injury was not foreseeable, so the driver has an excuse under the law. You see the arguments that can be made by both sides. They are equally applicable in the examples I gave about the bike rider and the drunk pedestrian. Foreseeability of injury is the key to success or failure of these cases.
If you've been injured in any kind of accident, call me for a free DVD that will answer frequently asked questions about your rights.