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Who Is At-Fault if a Driver Hits a Jaywalker?

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Jaywalking is a common action that is performed by pedestrians on a daily basis. Although it gives them a shortcut to reach their destination quicker, it is dangerous to do, especially on popular roads. And for such reasons, pedestrians who choose to jaywalk can be held liable for causing an accident. However, it is still likely for a jaywalking pedestrian to receive some form of compensation depending on how much negligence was contributed by all parties involved.

Still have questions? Our expert team of pedestrian accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are available 24/7 to offer legal assistance to victims of personal injury. We will review your case to determine what courses of action should be taken to better your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve for your losses.

To schedule a free consultation, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (213) 927-3700 or filling out our online contact form.

Jaywalking Laws in California

California has established laws to reduce the likelihood of accidents from occurring in situations that involve a jaywalking pedestrian. Below, we have listed these rules, a description of what they enforce, and what punishments will be given to those who violate any of these laws. 

California Vehicle Code 21950

It is mandatory for the driver to “yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.” This includes “[reducing] the speed of the vehicle or [taking] any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”  

However, this does not necessarily indicate that the pedestrian is given the right to freely do as they please, such as “suddenly [leaving] a curb or other place of safety and [walking] or [running] into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard” or making any “[unnecessary stops] or [delays in] traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.”

Those who violate this law will face a fine of $238. A driver who does not follow CVC 21950 will also be given one point added to their DMV record, which can put them at risk of getting a license suspension depending on how many points they have accumulated during a certain period of time. 

California Vehicle Code 21954

It is required for all pedestrians outside of “a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection [to] yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.” If a driver notices a pedestrian attempting to cross the road, they must “exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”

California Vehicle Code 21955

If there is an “adjacent intersection [that is] controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.” Any pedestrian that is found violating this law will face legal consequences, including an infraction and a ticket. Typically, a ticket for jaywalking is up to $196. However, the charge could become more expensive due to state-mandated fees and assessments. 

Comparative Negligence

Since California is a comparative negligence state, more than one party can be held accountable for causing any injuries or damages in an accident. For instance, a pedestrian was under the influence of alcohol and was aimlessly wandering in the middle of the road. An oncoming driver was traveling 50 mph on a 35 mph road and was not able to react on time to the intoxicated pedestrian ahead. 

The pedestrian is immediately struck by the powerful force of the speeding vehicle, which has left them in serious condition, while the driver only sustained minor injuries. In such an accident, both parties could be held liable for injuries or damages since they violated California’s road rules. The percentage of negligence committed by these two parties will be determined by the court. Once it has been calculated, each party is expected to provide compensation to the other according to the total amount of damages they committed.

Other Examples

Example 1: A pedestrian was legally using the crosswalk or casually walking on the sidewalk prior to getting struck by a vehicle. Under this situation, the driver will be found entirely at-fault for any injuries or damages caused by their negligence. 

Example 2: A driver was following the speed limit while traveling to their destination, when suddenly a pedestrian appeared on the road. Even though the driver had reasonable time to react, they were too taken aback by the pedestrian’s abrupt action and crashed directly into them. Both parties will be expected to contribute some form of compensation to one another. Depending on the factors involved in the accident, one party may be expected to provide a higher pay amount than the other. 

What to Do After a Jaywalking Accident 

Pedestrians are extremely vulnerable once they step foot outside. There are no barriers to protect them against intense contact by a vehicle while they are jaywalking, using a crosswalk, or simply walking on the sidewalk. Drivers may also be placed in a difficult position if they come across a pedestrian who is committing unlawful actions in the middle of the road. If you are involved in an accident as a jaywalker or with a jaywalker, you should consider following the steps listed below to understand what appropriate actions should be met in such an event. 

Do Not Claim You Are Fine After the Accident

You should not immediately assume that you have sustained little to no injuries from the accident regardless of whether you are the pedestrian or the driver. We encourage all accident victims to get checked by a doctor to get a proper examination done to look for any serious injuries, including internal injuries or broken/sprained bones. Oftentimes, symptoms for such injuries may emerge days, weeks, or even months later. It is always best to get checked as soon as possible to catch the problem early on to better or quicken your recovery process. 

Do Not Admit Fault 

If you choose to apologize or blame yourself for the accident, you will reduce your chances of receiving compensation you may have been entitled to. 

Contact the Police

If you notice any injuries or damages after the accident, you should immediately contact the police. They will arrive at the scene of the accident and conduct an official police report. You may request a copy of this report to use as evidence if you choose to pursue legal action against the other party. 

The paramedics may also be present to administer medical assistance to those who have sustained any injuries. We recommend those involved in an accident to get checked by the paramedics to rule out any serious conditions. If you feel fine after the accident and refuse medical services by the paramedics, you should still make a doctor’s appointment for a physical examination just in case. 

Exchange Information With All Parties Involved

If all parties involved in the accident are physically and/or mentally capable of speaking to one another, it is recommended for each of them to share their contact information. Drivers are expected to provide their insurance information, vehicle model, and license plate number to the pedestrian. 

Collect Evidence

If you are planning on filing a personal injury claim against the other party, it is important to obtain as much evidence as you possibly can, especially at the scene of the accident. For instance, you can take photographs or video footage of your injuries, damages, the location of where the accident took place, and the weather condition. Police reports, witness information, and medical records will also greatly support your claim. Lastly, you can record your perspective of the accident in a journal or diary. Be sure to include the date and time of when the event took place.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side will make it more likely for you to receive a fair settlement offer. Your attorney will handle all of the difficult tasks, such as strengthening your claim and negotiating with insurance companies, while you take time for yourself to recover from any physical or mental injuries you sustained from the accident. 

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