Each year, about 6,000 Americans lose their lives in pedestrian accidents all across the nation. About 70,000 others sustain injuries when a vehicle hits them. Unfortunately, most of these pedestrian accidents occur when the pedestrian is crossing the roadway on or near a marked crosswalk, unmarked crosswalk or intersection.
And while in the vast majority of such cases the motorist is to blame for causing the accident because they failed to yield the right of way, sometimes the pedestrian is at fault for the pedestrian accident, as strange as it may sound.
“While California’s law does not consider it ‘jaywalking’ to cross a street outside of a crosswalk, it does not state the exact distance within which crossing the street would be considered legal,” explains our San Diego pedestrian accident attorney at the Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP.
Crossing the street outside of a crosswalk: How far away is too far away?
California’s law offers a rather vague explanation as to what is the legally acceptable number of meters away from the marked or unmarked crosswalk for pedestrians to cross the roadway. This creates confusion among pedestrians and motorists alike, and when it comes to litigation, it gives the at-fault drivers a much-desired leeway to shift the blame onto the injured pedestrian, arguing in their defense that the pedestrian was crossing the street too far away from the marked or unmarked crosswalk or intersection.
Our experienced pedestrian attorney in San Diego, who has litigated dozens of cases involving pedestrian injuries and fatalities, explains, “It is safe to say that many juries and judges in California do not consider it illegal to cross the street when you are crossing within 20 meters (65 ft.) from the actual crosswalk, but only as long as you are crossing against a green light.”
Jaywalking or crossing legally: Crossing the road outside of the crosswalk marking
While it is always advised to cross the road by walking on the zebra marking, it is not always an option, which is why many pedestrians are tempted to cross the street outside of the crosswalk, without actually walking on the marking. But in no way does it mean that if you get injured while crossing the street more than 65 feet away from the marking, you will no longer be entitled to seek compensation from the motorist who hit you. Besides, 65 feet is no magic number, and in most cases, it depends on the circumstances of your particular case as to whether you were crossing the street illegally or legally.
After all, motorists in San Diego and elsewhere in California are legally required to yield the right of way and always slow down when approaching a crosswalk or intersection. Failure to do so makes the motorist negligent if he or she hit a pedestrian crossing the street on or near a crosswalk marking.
Determining fault in a pedestrian accident in California
Since California is a comparative fault state, there are three possible outcomes for a pedestrian accident in San Diego, El Centro, Palm Springs, or elsewhere in the state:
- The driver was 100 percent at fault;
- The pedestrian was entirely at fault;
- The driver and pedestrian were both at fault (juries or judge will assign a certain percentage of fault to each party).
For example, let’s imagine that a pedestrian is crossing the street against a green light. He does not walk on the actual crosswalk marking but is within 15 meters from the marking. Suddenly, a car driver, who did not slow down before the crosswalk and decided to run a red light, hits the pedestrian. In that case, the car driver will most likely be entirely at fault for causing the accident.
Or, let’s imagine another scenario. Let’s say there is a crosswalk without a traffic light, so motorists are required to yield the right of way only when they see pedestrians crossing the road. A driver is driving below the maximum allowable speed limit and is about to pass through the crosswalk when, all of a sudden, a pedestrian appears out of nowhere (he was hidden behind a parked car, and decided to run out into the street) and the car hits him. Yes, the pedestrian had the right to cross the street, but he did not make himself visible to motorists prior to crossing the road. In that case, the pedestrian will most likely be 100 percent at fault. When the driver and pedestrian are both partially negligent, each of them will be assigned a certain percentage of fault.
As you can see, determining who is at fault in a pedestrian accident is not always easy. That is why you should consult with a San Diego pedestrian accident attorney from the Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP, and speak about your particular case. Let our skilled lawyers investigate your case and establish liability. Call at 619-630-0205 or complete this contact form for a free case evaluation.