Traffic accidents involving pedestrians can cause catastrophic injuries and are almost always caused by driver negligence, such as speeding or running a red light. Despite this fact, however, are drivers always liable for pedestrian crashes?
Both drivers and pedestrians owe a legal duty of care. This means if a crash occurs, liability cannot be presumed. It still needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis. While it is rare, there are circumstances where a driver may not be liable, or at least not fully liable, for a crash involving a pedestrian.
Were you injured in a crash due to another party’s negligent or reckless behavior? If so, our auto accident lawyers in Sacramento may be able to help you recover compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. We have extensive experience managing collision claims and a history of proven results.
Call: (916) 777-7777 to request a FREE case review today.
By law, drivers owe a duty of care to all road users, including pedestrians. This duty of care means drivers are responsible for things like following traffic laws, maintaining their vehicles and paying attention to the road.
Common ways drivers put pedestrians at risk include:
Drivers also owe a higher duty of care given that pedestrians and other vulnerable road users can be injured far more easily given the size and weight of even a small passenger car.
There are a few situations where a pedestrian could be held at least partially liable for a car crash in California, such as by:
Even if drivers are able to avoid hitting you in time, slamming on the brakes suddenly could cause a rear-end or other type of crash. If damages occur as a result of that collision, you could be held liable.
Pedestrians who get hit by a car while jaywalking could be held liable for damages, however, not for the reason you may be thinking of.
California used to have one of the strictest jaywalking laws in the U.S. Breaking this law meant you could get a ticket and fines. Fast forward to 2021 to a change in the law amid increasing concerns that minorities were being targeted and ticketed for jaywalking.
The Freedom to Walk Act, AB 2147, which went into effect on January 1, 2023, now makes jaywalking legal. So whether or not you think legal jaywalking is a good idea, the option to do so is yours. All pedestrians can now cross a street without fear of being stopped by a peace officer and/or being cited and fined for breaking the law.
What the Freedom to Walk Act does not do, however, is remove a pedestrian’s duty of care. While pedestrians are free to jaywalk, they are still prohibited from doing so under specific circumstances, such as when it is reasonably certain to cause a crash, either with something being moved by human power or a motorized vehicle.
This question is something that both drivers and pedestrians frequently get hung up on. The fact is that pedestrians have the right of way whether they are crossing at a marked or unmarked area.
That said, having the right of way does not fully remove blame from either party if a crash occurs. For instance, even if a pedestrian has the right of way, it does not mean that individual should walk into the street without first stopping to check for traffic. Pedestrians who fail to look before crossing are not acting with reasonable care. This careless behavior puts their own safety, as well as the safety of others, at risk.
Even though jaywalking has been legalized, and even though pedestrians have the right of way, they still owe a duty of care. This means pedestrians, under the law, must not do something that a reasonable person could determine would likely cause a crash or put their own safety at risk.
Some examples of what it means to cross the street safely in California include:
Checking first before crossing is not giving in to drivers who fail to slow down. It is an intelligent and reasonable decision to ensure your own safety and well-being.
If you were injured in a pedestrian vs. motor vehicle crash, we strongly recommend seeking legal help right away. Deadlines apply in California, so if you wait to0 long to get started, you may miss your opportunity to recover any compensation.
At Arnold Law Firm, we have the staff and resources to fight for full and fair compensation on your behalf. Many people wait to call because they worry about the potential cost of hiring a lawyer. However, we only accept injury cases on contingency. For you, this means no out-of-pocket costs. For us, it means we only get paid if you do.
Call our trusted law firm today. We are experienced and have a proven history of success. (916) 777-7777
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