Do You Still Have a Case if You Were Hit by a Car While Jaywalking?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Sean A. Koch with Law Office of Bruce A. Ralston.
Pedestrians and drivers alike are expected to follow the law; for pedestrians, this means using crosswalks and avoiding walking places where foot traffic is not allowed, like highways. Drivers have a somewhat larger legal obligation to follow a broader set of traffic rules due to the amount of damage the average vehicle can do compared to a pedestrian. However, if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle while they are jaywalking, they may share some of the blame in court.
A pedestrian may or may not be eligible to seek legal compensation if they were hit while jaywalking.
The answer to this question varies significantly from state to state. However, most states practice some form of comparative negligence, which allows an injured person to seek compensation for their damages even if they were partially at fault. The comparative part of this rule generally means that an injured person can only receive compensation in the percentage equal to what the other party was at fault. For example, if a jury decides the driver is 80% at fault for the accident and the jaywalker was 20% at fault, the jaywalker may receive 80% of what their damages are worth.
Significantly fewer states practice contributory negligence; in contributory negligence states, if one party is deemed to be even partially at fault for an accident, no matter how small, they are barred from receiving compensation for their damages. In contributory negligence states, if a pedestrian is struck while jaywalking or attempting to cross a highway or other restricted road on foot, they could face a tougher battle seeking compensation.
Determining fault is more complicated than it sounds.
The tricky thing about cases where more than one party contributed is establishing where the fault lies. In fact, it is not uncommon for one party to believe they are entirely at fault only to later find out that the other party was engaging in negligence of their own, such as texting while driving. In states that practice comparative negligence, this could mean a big difference in the type of compensation the parties are eligible for.
This is why accident attorneys do not recommend admitting to any fault right away; instead, with the help of accident recreation experts, an accident attorney can help figure out what actually happened on both sides to contribute to the accident. Whatever you say to the other party and/or an insurance company has the potential to be used against you to reduce or deny your claim, so it’s better to wait until an official investigation has concluded before offering any statements.
Considering the relative severity of injuries suffered by pedestrians in jaywalking accidents, medical bills are likely a concern on top of other expenses, like wages lost during recovery. If consulting with an attorney seems out of the question, it may help to note that most accident attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, helping clients reconstruct the accident to determine fault at no out-of-pocket costs. To learn more about pedestrian accidents and what to do if you suspect you might be at fault, reach out to a pedestrian accident attorney in your state.