If a Car Hits a Jaywalker, Who’s at Fault?
Accidents with pedestrians in Sacramento often result in serious injuries to the pedestrian, including broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Most would assume that a driver who hits a pedestrian and causes such damages is entirely liable for the incident, but this isn’t always the case. When drivers fail to stop for red lights or stop signs and strike pedestrians legally crossing at designated crosswalks, those drivers are responsible for the damage they cause. If a pedestrian jaywalks or crosses the street outside of the designated crosswalk, liability is a more nuanced question.
California’s Negligence Laws
California follows a pure comparative negligence law, meaning plaintiffs may still recover damages even when they are partially at fault. However, the plaintiff will lose a portion of the case award equal to his or her percentage of fault. The pure comparative negligence law allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if he or she is 99% at fault for those damages. The plaintiff would simply lose 99% of the case award in such a case, typically meaning it wouldn’t be worth the trouble or expense for the plaintiff to file a lawsuit in the first place. In states that follow modified comparative negligence law, plaintiffs may only secure recovery for damages if their fault percentage is less than the defendants.
Under California’s pure comparative negligence law, a jaywalker who suffers injuries due to crossing the street illegally would absorb some degree of fault for the incident. Depending on what the driver was doing at the time, the jury may decide that the driver is more at fault than the jaywalker or vice versa. For example, if a jaywalker darts out from between two parked vehicles without looking before a driver has a chance to react, a jury may decide the jaywalker is liable for the incident. If the driver was looking at a cell phone when the accident happened, it’s likely the driver will bear the lion’s share of fault for the resulting damages.
Building a Case for a Jaywalking Accident Claim in Sacramento
If you or a loved one suffers injuries from an accident involving jaywalking, it’s vital to find reliable legal representation to maximize your chances of recovery. Drivers who unintentionally strike jaywalkers will need legal representation as well. Building any type of case involving a jaywalking accident will require evidence such as traffic camera recordings, eyewitness statements, dashboard camera footage (if available), cell phone records, and much more.
Anyone injured due to the negligence of another person or party can seek economic and non-economic damages through a personal injury claim. Economic damages repay a victim’s measurable financial losses and expenses like medical bills, prescription costs, rehabilitation costs, lost income from missed time at work, and lost investments. Non-economic damages include things like physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish resulting from a negligent accident.
A driver who strikes a jaywalker who crossed in a dangerous manner will need to prove that he or she was driving safely and legally at the time and did not have a reasonable time to prevent the accident. It’s likely a jury will still find the driver at least partially liable due to the fact that drivers have a duty of care to always avoid hitting pedestrians, but the jaywalker’s fault percentage could potentially exceed the driver’s. On the other hand, an injured jaywalker can still secure damages after suffering injuries if he or she can prove the driver could have potentially avoided the accident, but it’s very likely for the jaywalker to lose a portion of the case award.
The best resource for information concerning your legal rights after any type of jaywalking accident is a reliable Sacramento personal injury attorney. California’s pure comparative negligence law can make some personal injury claims complicated, but the right attorney can help you build a strong case and improve your chances of a satisfactory case award or settlement.