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What Happens if You Hit a Jaywalker Who is At-Fault in California?

Extremely distracted cell phone using man is unknowingly walking out into city traffic jaywalking causing traffic problems; stupidity illustrated by man having his head in the clouds.

We all know the old adage in California: “Pedestrians have the right-of-way.” Surely, however, there must be a limit on auto driver fault where a pedestrian is actually to blame for an accident. If a pedestrian darts across the street at a busy intersection, forgoing the crosswalk or proper traffic signal protection, and an accident ensues, who is at fault? Continue reading to learn what happens after a pedestrian is hit while jaywalking, and reach out to a knowledgeable Glendale car accident lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured in a California traffic accident.

Jaywalking and pedestrian duties

California drivers must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing on a marked crossway or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Drivers must slow down, stop, or take any other appropriate measures to protect the safety of those pedestrians.

Pedestrians, like everyone else on public roadways, have a duty to exercise reasonable care and be safe. Jaywalking occurs when a pedestrian crosses the street outside of a designated crosswalk or without the protection of a traffic signal or other traffic control device. Jaywalking is against the law, precisely because it puts the pedestrian, the car drivers, and everyone else on the road in danger of an accident. Jaywalking is an infraction, however, and not a criminal offense, similar to a speeding ticket or parking violation.

When drivers violate safety regulations, they are presumed to be negligent and are likely at fault for any accident that results. Likewise, if a pedestrian ignores safety rules, they are violating their duty of safety and acting negligently. If they leave a curb or safe zone and walk into the path of oncoming vehicles that are so close as to cause immediate danger, they are likely to cause an accident.

Who is liable when a jaywalker is hit?

California follows a comparative negligence scheme. That means that a fact-finder (a judge or jury) will look at the actions of everyone involved in an accident and determine the percentage that each person is at fault. If a plaintiff was 40 percent at fault for the own accident, then their total injury award will be reduced by 40 percent.

If a driver hits a jaywalker, it is clear that the pedestrian was at least partially at fault for the accident. That does not, however, mean that the pedestrian was entirely at fault. If the auto driver was speeding, intoxicated, passing on the right, distracted, or otherwise driving negligently, then they may share fault. A judge or jury will weigh the actions of each party and the circumstances of the accident to determine each party’s relative fault and will adjust the potential damage awards accordingly.

If you were driving and a jaywalker jumped in front of your car, causing you to hit the pedestrian, swerve, crash your car, and injure yourself, you may have a personal injury claim against the pedestrian. The same analysis described above will ensue: Were you acting negligently? How negligent was the pedestrian? Who really caused the accident? A dedicated California car accident lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether you, as the driver or the pedestrian, has a valid claim against the other parties involved and whether your potential award is likely to be reduced as a result of the comparative levels of fault.

Call for Advice and Representation After a California Pedestrian Accident

If you were injured by a negligent driver or pedestrian in California, get help seeking damages from a dedicated professional by contacting the experienced and effective Glendale personal injury attorneys at McReynolds Vardanyan LLP for a free consultation at 818-855-2115.

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