Who May Be Liable for Injuries Caused by Pedestrians Jay-Walking?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Jaywalking is crossing the street or roadway outside a designated crosswalk. In California, we see this everyday. As a motorist, it can be a bit annoying having to stop in the middle of the road because a pedestrian does not want to walk over to a cross walk and do things in a law-abiding manner. Sometimes, pedestrians are difficult to impossible to see until it’s too late. Should a driver be held liable for these types of accidents?

Well, the short answer is: sometimes. When a pedestrian is injured in an accident while jaywalking, the driver can be liable in certain circumstances. This is why it is important to speak to a California pedestrian accident attorney after a car accident to determine whether a motorist can be held liable.

California Pedestrian Road Accidents Laws

Both pedestrians and motorists have to exercise due care and caution while on the road. Under the California Vehicle Code section 21950, drivers are to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing on a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. A driver approaching a pedestrian on a marked or unmarked crosswalk is expected to reduce speed and take other actions necessary to safeguard the pedestrian.

At the same time, a pedestrian also owes a duty of care not to leave a curb or other safe zone and walk into the path of oncoming vehicles that are so close they would constitute an immediate danger.  

Negligence is presumed when a driver violates a statute or regulation and the violation proximately causes death, injury or damage to property.

Pedestrians Injured While Jaywalking

California law prohibits jaywalking. Pedestrians on a roadway other than a marked crosswalk should yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic.  

However, a pedestrian injured by a motorist while jaywalking is not defenseless. The motorist still has a duty to exercise due care even if the pedestrian is outside a demarcated crosswalk.

If a pedestrian jaywalks and is involved in an accident, liability may be shared if:

  • The driver was over speeding
  • The driver was driving while intoxicated
  • The driver was driving while distracted
  • The driver was driving without paying attention to the road.

Comparative Negligence

California has a comparative negligence law that determines damages in proportion to one’s fault. This means that a claimant who is 50% at fault for an accident will have damages recoverable lessened by 50%, a claimant who is 20% liable for an accident can recover damages but they will be lessened by 20% and so on.

If a person is injured in an accident while jaywalking and the driver was either over speeding, intoxicated or distracted, then the injured person can claim damages against the driver under California’s comparative negligence laws. Damages awarded will be reduced by the percentage the jury finds the claimant at fault. If you have been hit by a motorist while jaywalking in California, you can recover damages from the motorist. Contact the California personal injury attorneys at J&Y Law today for a free case evaluation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.