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Jaywalking Pedestrian: Who’s at Fault?

Imagine yourself driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego, enjoying the calm of the ocean and taking in the beauty of the sunset, when you notice a pedestrian jaywalking. Now imagine that, due to your speed, you were unable to stop your vehicle in time and you struck this person. How do you determine who is at fault in this situation?

Jaywalking is a violation of pedestrian traffic laws and carries large fines. California Vehicle Code 21954 states that “every pedestrian upon a roadway… other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk… shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway…”[i] Logically, it seems that the person jaywalking in this scenario was acting negligently and should hold full liability.

California Vehicle Code 21954 goes on to state that the pedestrian’s duty of care does not “relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.” In this scenario, the driver allowed his surroundings to distract him and may have been driving faster than the noted speed limit. Since the Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego is known to have pedestrian foot traffic, the driver had a duty to look out for pedestrians, therefore, the driver also holds fault in this situation.jaywalking

Determining liability is a complex process, particularly in States like California that allow for comparative negligence. Comparative negligence attributes a percentage of fault to every party involved in the incident, allowing fault to range anywhere from full liability to one percent liability. Accordingly, although vehicles hold the higher ground in terms of power, if a pedestrian is acting in a way that is harmful to others, they will likely take on a percentage of the liability. “Jaywalking laws are designed to protect pedestrians from significant injury,” Attorney Zachary Tedford stated, “and although they can sometimes seem frivolous or unnecessary, they are designed to and have been proven to be effective at preventing serious injury and should be followed at all times.”

Recently, AB 390, a bill aimed at lessening the penalty on crossing in marked areas with a don’t walk signal, was approved by Governor Brown. AB 390 allows pedestrians “facing a flashing “DON’T WALK” … signal” to proceed “so long as he or she completes the crossing before the display of the steady “DON’T WALK” … symbol.”[ii] As the pedestrian foot traffic laws change, drivers should take more precautions when making a right turn to secure safe passage for possible pedestrians.

While we always strive to keep the roads safe, a safe roadway is not always a guarantee. As such, both pedestrians and drivers should always be wary of their surroundings. If someone’s negligence caused you injury, a personal injury claim can have a positive impact on your life. To learn more about collisions involving pedestrians, or to get answers to any other questions, call Brett Geruntino, Esq., a personal injury attorney San Diego at Acclaim Law Group at (858) 252-0781

Disclaimer: While we always seek to establish accuracy when publishing articles, this piece is not intended to provide legal advice, and should not be used as such. Each individual case will differ and should be discussed with an attorney or legal expert. If you would like to inquire about pursuing a claim, please contact us at (858) 205-4884 or email brett@acclaimlaw.com

[i] n.d.). Retrieved from California Legislative Information:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=21954.&lawCode=VEH

[ii] (n.d.). Retrived from California Legislative Information:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB390

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