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Pedestrian Jaywalking and Comparative Liability Law

The Law Is Against Jaywalking Pedestrians Hit by Cars: Free Insight From Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

A pedestrian is simply no match for an oncoming vehicle. It goes without saying that a pedestrian will always end up on the losing side of a pedestrian crash. Due to the obvious mismatch between a human being and a vehicle, many people assume that a driver who struck a pedestrian will automatically be at-fault for a collision. However, it is entirely possible for a pedestrian to also be held liable for a pedestrian accident, especially if that individual was jaywalking when the incident occurred.

If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles, our experienced personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to help. We will recover all the compensation you are entitled to so that you can focus on your recovery and on the ones you care most about.

Pedestrian Law

It is unlawful for a pedestrian to jaywalk or walk in areas where pedestrian traffic is not allowed. Just like any driver, pedestrians are also required to obey traffic laws and signals. This means that any pedestrian who fails to follow pedestrian rules will almost certainly be found partially liable for a pedestrian accident, especially if their failure to follow applicable pedestrian laws contributed to causing the accident. 

In other words, the damages an injured pedestrian can be recovered will almost certainly be lowered if a pedestrian acted negligently, such as by jaywalking. 

Comparative Liability and Damages

California is a comparative liability state, which means that more than one individual may be found liable, including the pedestrian. Therefore, liability can be divided based on the degree of fault. Damages will also be divided based on the share of fault. Finally, any available damages will be reduced depending on an individual’s degree of fault.

Even if a pedestrian was jaywalking when the accident happened, he or she may be able to recover at least some damages. This is because whether a pedestrian was jaywalking or walking through a section of road with “no crossings” signs, a driver must still do everything in his or her power to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

Let’s consider an example. Say that a pedestrian jaywalks through a road with "no crossing" signs and is then struck by a vehicle. If it is determined that the injured pedestrian was 95% liable for the accident and that pedestrian suffered $100,000 in medical expenses, the pedestrian would only recover $5,000 in damages.

Duty of care will be considered when determining fault in a jaywalking incident. The primary question that will be asked is: who followed their duty of care and who didn't? Every driver and every pedestrian has a duty of care to one another: a driver must do everything in his or power to avoid hitting a pedestrian, and a pedestrian must do everything they can to safely cross a street. 

Let’s analyze an example to further contextualize comparative liability as it relates to pedestrian accidents. Say that a pedestrian had the right-of-way and was crossing the street. If that jaywalking pedestrian had earphones on and was also texting when he or she was hit, it is almost certain that a court of law will impose a significant degree of liability on that pedestrian. 

Despite all of this, some may still wonder: if a pedestrian was hit by a car, how can that pedestrian possibly be responsible? Even if a pedestrian has the right-of-way, which they do not when they choose to jaywalk, they still have a duty of care to pay attention to their surroundings and do everything in their power to avoid being hit by a car. In conclusion: jaywalking will place at least some degree of liability on the pedestrian and will also minimize available damages.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss  of Enjoyment of Life
  • Other Non-Economic Damages

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact are only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact us to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a pedestrian accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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