While California pedestrians are legally required to cross streets in demarcated crosswalks, if you were jaywalking in the San Fernando Valley and were hit by a car, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries. For example, if the driver of the car was drunk or high, distracted, texting, or speeding, then negligence is involved. However, determining liability for a pedestrian accident can be difficult to establish without the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Legally speaking, if a car hits you while you are jaywalking, you may still be able to receive compensation — if the driver broke the law in some way. The driver, of course, will argue that you were at fault for not following the law. This is where the doctrines of negligence and comparative fault come into play.
What Is Negligence?
Under California law, negligence is the duty to act in a reasonable manner to avoid causing injuries or harm to others. The damage can be physical, emotional, financial, or mental. The person who injures another as a result of their negligence is responsible for compensating the victim for whatever harm he or she caused.
Defense to Negligence
If you were jaywalking when a car hit you, a smart driver is going to argue that you contributed to or caused your own injuries by jaywalking, also known as comparative fault. Under this theory, a jury would be instructed to look at the relative degrees of fault and assign each party a percentage.
For example, suppose a jury finds that the driver was 80% at fault, and you, the jaywalking pedestrian, were 20% at fault. You would be able to recover 80% of your damages (medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.).
California Laws on Jaywalking
The California Vehicle Code clearly addresses the issue of pedestrian rights and jaywalking.
Section 21950 (Right of Way at Crosswalks) – (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter. (c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.
Section 21453(b) (Right Turn on Red Light) – A driver, after stopping for a steady circular red signal, may turn right. However, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to traffic using the cross street.
Section 21954(a) (Pedestrians Outside Crosswalk) – Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard. (b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.
If you were hit by a car while jaywalking, your case will likely require the assistance and skill of a savvy pedestrian accident attorney familiar with California laws and your legal rights. To discuss your potential case in further detail, contact San Fernando Valley personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg today.