According to the California Vehicle Code, below are the most important laws affecting drivers and pedestrians. Among other considerations, a pedestrian accident lawyer will consider the following laws when determining who is at fault after a pedestrian accident:
- A driver must always yield the right of way to a pedestrian who is crossing a roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
- A driver must never stop within a crosswalk, as this forces a pedestrian to walk around that vehicle, which can be very dangerous.
- A pedestrian is never allowed to jaywalk. If a driver is involved in a collision because he or she was trying to avoid hitting a jaywalker, the jaywalking pedestrian would be held liable.
- A driver must never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. The stopped driver could be waiting for a pedestrian to cross safely.
- A driver can drive on a sidewalk only when entering or exiting a garage or alleyway. However, that driver must still yield to a pedestrian when doing so.
By law, all drivers and pedestrians must be aware of their immediate surroundings. Even if a person walks across the street and does not use a crosswalk when a driver has a green light, that driver still has a duty of care to avoid hitting that jaywalker. Likewise, a pedestrian cannot suddenly step off the curb when a car is near, or just stop in the middle of an intersection, or block traffic even when they have the right of way. Any of the above acts are negligent and will greatly reduce a pedestrian’s available damages, regardless of whether they were hit by a car.
Every individual who is using public roads is required to exercise a reasonable level of care. Therefore, a pedestrian who doesn’t follow applicable pedestrian laws will at least be found partially liable for an accident.
Let’s consider an example. Say that a pedestrian was jaywalking between two parked cars and then walked into the path of an oncoming vehicle. In this case, the driver has little to no chance of avoiding that pedestrian. The jaywalking pedestrian in this example will most likely be held liable because he or she failed to follow their legally mandated duty of care as a pedestrian.
Further, if the driver was able to react in time to avoid hitting that pedestrian but crashed into another car in the process, the pedestrian would also be held liable for any losses caused to both the driver and the second vehicle that was struck.