Getting hit by a car while jaywalking can lead to serious injuries or even death. However, determining liability and compensation in these cases can be complicated due to laws around comparative negligence.
Jaywalking, or crossing a roadway illegally outside of a marked crosswalk, is against the law in most places. Drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle, but pedestrians also have a responsibility to cross roads safely and legally. This can lead to arguments around comparative negligence when collisions occur.
Who’s At Fault?
Comparative negligence involves determining the degree of fault of both parties in an accident. States use different versions of comparative negligence, but generally the victim’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a jaywalker was found 25% responsible for an accident, their damages award would be reduced by 25%. Many people view this as unfair in the case of jaywalking. A negligent driver in a two-ton vehicle should bear most responsibility, they argue. Others counter that jaywalkers knowingly take risks and should share fault.
The Factors that Complicate Things
There are a few complicating factors in jaywalking cases. For one, data shows drivers are usually at fault. One study examining over 500 pedestrian crashes found the driver was at least partially at fault over 90% of the time. Drivers may not be paying attention or speeding in areas with pedestrians. Another issue is that jaywalking laws are questionable. Studies show strict jaywalking enforcement does little to improve safety. Accidents usually happen on high-speed roads not meant for pedestrians in the first place. Harshly penalizing pedestrians for crossing illegally seems unfair given the circumstances in many areas.
Reforms to Make Roads Safer for Pedestrians
Some cities have passed reforms in response to make roads safer for pedestrians. For example, some states have abolished or limited consideration of jaywalking in accident liability. The percentage by which a jaywalker can have their damages reduced is capped, e.g., at 20%. Other places have decriminalized jaywalking so it can be handled as a simple citation without harsh legal consequences. Road design is also changing, using techniques like speed bumps, better lighting, and midblock crossings to improve pedestrian safety. Automated enforcement like cameras issuing tickets also helps deter unsafe driving.
Determining liability in jaywalking accidents involves weighing complex factors around negligence and road design. Comparative negligence can seem unfairly harsh toward pedestrians. However, jaywalkers do willfully take risks. Reformers believe the best solution is to improve infrastructure and enforcement to prevent these accidents in the first place. While the legal issues remain complex, promoting pedestrian safety should be the main priority in creating a just approach.
Jaywalking lawsuits involve pedestrians filing claims against drivers who struck them while they were crossing illegally outside of a crosswalk. Comparative negligence laws reduce damages based on the jaywalker’s fault.
If you feel like you have a valid claim, visit our offices at:
- Westerville – 4151 Executive Pkwy, Suite 355, Westerville, OH 43081
- Mansfield – 33 S. Lexington-Springmill Rd, Mansfield, OH 44906
Call now for a free consultation on (614) 224-4114.