It is a common misconception that pedestrians always have the right-of-way in vehicle/pedestrian altercations. However, that is not always the case. In some situations, the pedestrian can be partially or completely at fault for accidents, especially in jaywalking incidents.
Both parties have a responsibility of practicing due care to act in a reasonable manner to avoid injury of harm to oneself and others. Pedestrians have a responsibility to follow traffic laws, which includes using the crosswalk whenever available to cross the street. Drivers of vehicles also have a responsibility to obey traffic laws. Drivers must always drive within the speed limits and avoid distracted driving such as talking on the cellphone or texting while driving, even at stop lights. If a pedestrian chooses to disobey traffic laws and cross the street outside of the crosswalk, then the driver of the vehicle must try to avoid coming into contact with the pedestrian. However, in cases where the driver was obeying all traffic laws and did what is reasonably expected of them to do, the pedestrian is at fault.
To determine the extent to which each party is at fault, states will use one of two methods to determine fault and how to distribute compensation. The two most dominant systems used are pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. In the pure comparative negligence system, liability is determined by the percentage of fault, for example, 30% and 70%. In the modified comparative negligence system, liability is determined by the percentage of fault, but only up to 50%. Therefore, whichever party is at fault for more than 50%, they are unable to seek any damages from the other party. In many cases, this is applied to the plaintiff. For many jaywalking cases, the pedestrian is completely at fault because they are the party choosing to disobey traffic laws and potentially jeopardizing themselves and others. However, in most states, liability can be split according to the circumstances and percentage of fault. For example, if the driver of the vehicle was speeding and texting combined with the pedestrian jaywalking, the jaywalker might not completely be at fault and may be able to lessen their penalty.
California uses pure comparative negligence when determining the fault and penalty of the jaywalking accident. Going back to the example of the jaywalker being hit by a speeding and texting driver, the pedestrian may be able to collect some compensation for his/her injuries. In such cases, if the total damage to the pedestrian was $5,000, but the driver of the vehicle was seen to be responsible for 50%, then the jaywalker may be able to collect $2,500 for damages.
In some cases, the pedestrian may be entirely at fault. In these cases, the drivers of the vehicle may be able to sue for damages to the vehicle and if the driver received any injuries as a result of the accident. In this case, the jaywalker would not be able to receive any compensation for his or her injuries.
Using the pure comparative negligence defense can be tricky; however, it is imperative that you have the proper representation to recover the greatest damage award as possible. If you or a loved one has been injured from a jaywalking incident, call our experienced California jaywalking attorneys today for a free consultation. We accept pedestrian accident cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there will be no cost to you unless we recover. Let us help you and your loved ones get through this difficult time. Our personal injury attorneys at Guldjian Law will aggressively fight for you until justice is served, whether it is through a settlement or a trial. Our dedicated and caring team of injury attorneys will be available to you 24/7. Call us at 1-800-385-4838 for a free consultation.