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Where liability falls when a motorist hits a jaywalker is a question best answered by a skilled lawyer

We all know that jaywalking is whenever a person illegally crosses a street outside of a designated crosswalk. We see this literally every day in California and normally don’t think too much of it (except for maybe being a little annoyed at having traffic pile up unexpectedly because of them). However, if you don’t have time to stop and suddenly hit one of these scoff-laws (or find yourself hit as one of them), suddenly you are much more concerned about the in’s and out’s of California’s liability rules regarding jaywalking accidents.

It turns out, it’s not just cars that have to exercise due caution while on the road, but pedestrians too. California Vehicle Code section 21950 holds that pedestrians have the clear right of way at either marked crosswalks or unmarked crosswalks at intersections. In this situation, the driver has a duty to slow down and take reasonable actions to safeguard against injury to the pedestrian. The driver owes a second duty as well, to not engage in any evasive action that poses immediate danger to other vehicles (such as swerving into oncoming traffic, or forcing another car off the road). If the jaywalker has been injured due to a failure of the driver to abide by this code, then liability for their injuries generally falls on the motorist.

If, however, the jaywalker is not in an above-mentioned situation, and has instead crossed a roadway illegally, they are commanded to yield to legal traffic. Even if they are in the right though, drivers still have some duty to exercise care to the jaywalker, and might share liability if they suffer injury. This is especially true if for instance the driver was speeding, distracted, intoxicated, or otherwise not paying attention to the road.

In these complex situations, California generally applied the law of comparative negligence that apportions damages by the degree of each party’s fault. In other words, if a party is 30% liable for an accident, they will have the amount that they can recover be reduced by 30%, 20% by 20%, and so on. Under this law the injured jaywalker can still sue the driver and will have their claim reduced by how much they are found to have contributed to the accident through their own actions. If this sounds confusing and difficult to apply to your case, it’s because it is! Talking to a qualified attorney when you have a case that might involve comparative negligence is incredibly important; because literally every fact and facet has an impact on the eventual outcome of any case you might bring (or have brought against you).

For over 30 years Slatter Law Firm has been that qualified attorney. We know the steps to take, and will be there to look after you when you have been involved in a jaywalking accident (as either a driver or a pedestrian). As a boutique firm, when you call Slatter Law you can speak to real attorneys (not just their secretaries) and even a founding partner -giving you real access to real legal advice when you need it. If you or someone you know has been involved in a jaywalking accident, please call us today for your free consultation at (310) 405-0964 or toll-free at (888) 293-0404.