How Could the New Jaywalking Laws in California Affect Pedestrian Accident Claims?

woman about to jaywalkSigned into law on September 30, 2022, the Freedom to Walk Act effectively makes it legal to jaywalk in California. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2023.

As this is a significant change, drivers and pedestrians alike should know what effect this new law may have if an accident occurs. If jaywalking is legal, it may be less likely for pedestrians to be found partially at fault for a crash.

Below, our Sacramento accident attorneys discuss how the new law may affect injury claims involving pedestrians. We offer a free consultation to learn more about your legal options after a crash. There are also no upfront fees while we work on your claim. We do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.

What Does the Freedom to Walk Act Say?

The Freedom to Walk Act states that pedestrians who cross the road outside of a designated crosswalk shall not receive a citation. Except when a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of colliding with a motor vehicle or other human-operated device.

How Does the New Law Affect Right-of-Way Laws?

This means that pedestrians may cross the road at any point only when it is safe to do so. The new law does not change who has the right-of-way. Therefore, jaywalkers must still yield to traffic on the roadway.

Does the New Law Affect Pedestrian Crosswalk Signs?

Under the new law, pedestrians may also cross at any time at a controlled crosswalk. A controlled crosswalk is when there is either a traffic light, stop sign or pedestrian signage.

Pedestrians may choose to cross the road even while there is a “no walk” sign flashing, so long as there is no immediate danger in doing so.

If a pedestrian attempts to cross when it is not safe to do so, he or she may be ticketed. Citations for jaywalking can cost $200 plus court fees.

Can a Jaywalking Pedestrian Be Liable for an Accident?

A jaywalking pedestrian may be at least partially liable for an accident. The Freedom to Walk Act does not relieve pedestrians from their duty of due care for their own safety or the safety of others.

Therefore, if a pedestrian chooses to jaywalk when it is unsafe to do so, he or she may bear at least partial fault if a collision occurs. Drivers are still required to take reasonable action to prevent an accident.

However, if the pedestrian acted in such a reckless manner to walk out into traffic when it was clearly unsafe to do so, he or she may be fully liable for damages. For example, if he or she was distracted and failed to see oncoming vehicles.

The Freedom to Walk Act may offer some protection from liability for jaywalkers in some cases where it may not have in the past. For example, in the past pedestrians would be partially liable for their damages if they crossed the road outside a crosswalk, even if they were crossing when it was reasonably safe to do so. Under the new law, the insurance company may have a harder time placing blame on a jaywalking pedestrian who was injured by a negligent driver.

How Can I Recover Compensation for a Jaywalking Accident?

California is an at-fault state. Therefore, you must file a claim with the liability insurance of the at-fault party to recover compensation for your damages.

The insurance company will try and place the blame on you if you were injured by a negligent driver while jaywalking. However, if you used reasonable care while crossing the road, you should be able to recover full compensation for your damages under California’s new law.

If you are a driver who suffered an injury due to a jaywalking pedestrian’s negligence, you may be able to recover some compensation as well. It depends on what steps you took to avoid the collision and how the pedestrian chose to cross the road. Remember that pedestrians still owe drivers a duty of care.

Have More Questions? Call Us Today

If you were injured in a jaywalking accident, you may be wondering what your legal options are once the Freedom to Walk Act goes into effect.

Let our experienced lawyers handle the legal process for you, as it can be complex. We can gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case for maximum compensation.

We do not charge you anything while we work on your claim. There are also no fees unless we win.

Call 916-777-7777 to schedule a free consultation today.