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What Happens if You Hit a Pedestrian Jaywalking?

Man jaywalking across road

In circumstances where a driver hits a walking pedestrian, determining liability could get a little bit difficult and complicated, that is why it is important to hire an experienced car accident attorney to gather as much evidence as possible to help determine liability for the other side.

Whenever there is a car and a pedestrian involved in an accident, most likely the pedestrian will be the one that suffers more severe injuries since the driver of the car is in a protective barrier. Usually, many people think that because the pedestrian was injured more, the driver is at fault. However, there are certain circumstances where the pedestrian would be at fault for their own injuries. Examples of when the pedestrian could be at fault would be whenever they are jaywalking or breaking a violation of California’s traffic laws. Below is an article that discusses the liability between a pedestrian and vehicle accident, and how a pedestrian could be liable for their injuries.

  • Under California laws, pedestrians are considered those who are on foot, skateboards, roller skates, wheelchair, but not on bikes.
  • California road laws state that if there is a pedestrian who’s going to cross at a crosswalk, even if the crosswalk does not have traffic lights, a driver in a vehicle must use caution and reduce speed in order for the pedestrian to cross the street.
  • If there is another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk and you are approaching in your vehicle, be prepared to stop since the other vehicle may be waiting for someone to cross.
  • Never drive on a sidewalk unless you are entering a driveway. Whenever there are people crossing the driveway, it is the pedestrian’s right-of-way.
  • Never stop in the middle of a crosswalk.
  • A pedestrian making eye contact is most likely going to cross the crosswalk.

Driver’s Negligence

A driver has a duty of care under the legal principle of negligence. A driver must act in a responsible manner and watch out for pedestrians crossing the street. If a driver fails to act within the standard of care, the driver then is negligent and is the cause of plaintiff’s injuries. If the driver is negligent, that means the driver was at fault for the accident. When a driver is determined to be at fault, then the driver must compensate plaintiff for their injuries sustained. A driver may not always be at fault, it may also depend on the pedestrian’s responsibilities and if they themselves breached their duty of care.

Ways in which a driver could be negligent is when they drive their vehicle in an unsafe manner. Unsafe manner includes when the driver is speeding, when the driver fails to stop at the stop sign, when the driver is talking and texting, when the driver is intoxicated, or when the driver fails to stop for pedestrians.

Pedestrian’s Negligence

A pedestrian can be negligent themselves. A pedestrian owes a duty to others on the street to be careful. When the pedestrian breaches that duty of being careful and instead violates traffic laws, such as jaywalks, they themselves are held negligent. If the pedestrian was hit while being negligent, then can be held liable. Thus, the Pedestrian will not be able to recover any damages for their injuries. It may also depend on the state, and how they determine liability. For example, California is a comparative fault system that decreases the pedestrian’s damages depending on how negligent the pedestrian was. The pedestrian still could recover some amount though. Other states have different ways of determining fault. For more information on comparative fault, contact our personal injury attorneys todays to discuss your case.

The question of whether the pedestrian breached their duty is how would a reasonable pedestrian have acted in that same situation?  If a reasonable pedestrian would not have jaywalked and instead walk properly along the crosswalk or within the white lines, then the pedestrian is most likely at fault. If a reasonable pedestrian would have jaywalked since there are no other crossing areas nearby, then the pedestrian is most likely not at fault. In circumstances where there’s a pedestrian and a vehicle accident, it is very important to remember that sometimes breaking the law does not make a pedestrian negligent. In other circumstances, a pedestrian could be negligent without even having to jaywalk or break the law.

California Vehicle Code 21950

The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

California Vehicle Code 21955

“…between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.”

The above California vehicle code outlaws jaywalking and violation of such laws end up in a citation worth around $200. The only time it is legal for a pedestrian to walk on roads is if they are walking on a road that is considered to be a sidewalk or crosswalk. If a sidewalk or crosswalk is not available, then it is advised that the pedestrian walk on the left-hand side of the road. It is illegal to walk on the freeways in California. Pedestrians must always abide by traffic signals and traffic lights. Failure to abide to traffic lights in the end up in a citation, or a pedestrian may be found liable if they are involved in an accident.

It is very important to hire an experienced attorney that can take a look at the situation and determine liability and what damages you are entitled to. Pedestrians do not always have the right of way. Each circumstance of auto v. pedestrian accidents is different and each one may call for different levels of liability.

If you or a loved one were hit as a pedestrian by another car while jaywalking, or you were the driver who hit a person jaywalking, contact our car accident attorneys today. You still might have a case against the other party depending on your circumstance. For example, if you are a pedestrian, the driver may have had a duty to avoid the accident. If you were the driver, then the other person engaged in activity that violates the law. Nowadays, the roads are very busy, full of pedestrians, vehicles, and bikes, and so the likelihood of getting involved in a car accident has unfortunately increased. Many parties are also not attentive and aware of their circumstance, either texting or talking on their phones.

If you have been involved in a circumstance like the above, contact us for a free consultation. We will listen to the circumstances of your case and determine the best legal strategies you can take.

***Disclaimer: This page is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this page, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law

Sam Heidari

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Sam Heidari

Sam Ryan Heidari

Sam Heidari is the founding principal of Heidari Law Group, a law firm specializing in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment law with offices in California and Nevada. Sam Heidari has been practicing law for over 11 years and handles a wide range of cases including car accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination, and product liability. The Heidari Law Group legal firm is known for its comprehensive approach, handling cases from initial consultation through to final judgment. Sam Heidari is dedicated to community involvement and advocacy for civil liberties.

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