Pedestrian accident injuries in Italy: what the motorist risks?

When talking about "pedestrian accident", first of all you must know the configurable hypotheses of crime regarding the motorist, that is, what are the consequences when the driver of the car hits a person.

In light of the new features introduced, the attributable crimes are as follows:

  • traffic murder, introduced by Law No.41/2016 and regulated by the provisions of Article 589 bis of Criminal Code.

More in detail, anyone who causes the death of a person through fault (negligence, imprudence or inexperience), due to a conduct held in violation of the traffic code, responds to the crime of traffic murder.

The traffic murder is punished with imprisonment from 2 to 7 years.

The penalty is increased to from 3 to 10 years in the case of drink-driving or driving under the influence of drugs;

  • serious and very serious personal injuries in traffic, which with the Law No.41/2016 have become an independent figure of crime, thus leaving their previous nature of aggravating personal injuries by negligence (Article 590 c.p.).

Their regulations are in Article 590 bis c.p., which provides a sentence of imprisonment from 3 months to 1 year for anyone who causes serious injuries to a person, following a violation of the traffic code.

The imprisonment is from 1 to 3 years if the personal injuries are very serious.

The penalty for running over a pedestrian may worsen in the following cases:

  • drink-driving (imprisonment from 5 to 10 years);
  • driving under the influence of drugs or psychotropic substances;
  • driving at a speed equal to or greater than twice that permitted, or on extra-urban roads at a speed of at least 50 km/h higher than the maximum speed envisaged;
  • crossing an intersection with a red traffic light or in the wrong way;
  • reversal maneuver in proximity/correspondence of intersections, curves or bumps, or after overtaking another vehicle at a pedestrian crossing, or on continuous line.

Further aggravations of penalty are envisaged for cases of severe drunkenness and psychophysical alteration from drugs, or in case of those who professionally carry out the activity of transporting people or things, or for driving without the license or compulsory insurance coverage for the RCA (Civil Responsibility Insurance), or for escaping from responsibility.

It should be noted that according to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court (judgment No.27513/2017) the driver who runs over a pedestrian outside the strips, even in cases where the latter has crossed the road imprudently, responds to the crime of personal injuries by negligence. This is due to the fact that under optimal conditions for driving, such as on roads well-lighted, straight or in the town centre, the pedestrian's road crossing, although sudden, is considered a typical and predictable risk for the driver, which requires him to pay attention and to do everything possible to avoid the event.

Pedestrian accident injuries: the compensation for damages

The pedestrian accident injuries fall within the typical hypothesis of damaging events derived from road traffic without collision between vehicles, for which the "presumption" is applied by the art. 2054, paragraph 1, of the Italian Civil Code, according to which the driver of a vehicle is obliged to compensate the damage caused to things or people if he/she cannot prove to have done everything possible to avoid it.

The behavioural charges for the motorist, according to the prevailing case-law, are:

  • inspect the road;
  • maintain constant vehicle control, in relation to road and traffic conditions;
  • foresee all the situations that by common experience are configurable.

The driver has only one way to avoid being recognized the criminal and civil liability, namely to prove the unpredictability and inevitability of the event, in compliance with all the rules of caution imposed by law and the concrete situation.

Pedestrian accident injuries: what happens in case of failure to rescue?

In the case of a traffic accident or a pedestrian's being running over, the driver involved has the obligation to stop, whether he is responsible for the accident or not, in order to provide the necessary assistance or simply to make himself available to the police for the surveys to be carried out and/or for the identification of the people involved in the traffic accident.

The non-fulfillment of this obligation, as per Article 189 C.d.S., results in the completion of the crime of failure to rescue, which is punished with imprisonment and with the administrative sanction of the suspension of the license.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.