What Happens if You Hit a Pedestrian Jaywalking?
Hitting a pedestrian can be a traumatizing experience, for both the pedestrian and the driver alike. Indeed, in addition to the emotional trauma that can follow a pedestrian crash, the pedestrian may also be left without serious injuries, some of which may be life-threatening or life-changing.
While the claims process is typically the last thing that either party involved in a pedestrian accident is thinking about, filing a claim for compensation is the manner by which a pedestrian can seek compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, and other damages.
While it is often assumed that pedestrians always have the right of way, this isn’t necessarily the case. Here’s what you should know if you hit a pedestrian who is jaywalking at the time of the accident–
A Pedestrian Has a Responsibility to Cross with Care
Pedestrians, just like others on the road, have a duty of care to act in a way that is reasonably safe and responsible, as well as to follow any traffic laws. While pedestrians often do have the right of way–for example, if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk or has a “Walk” signal–there are situations where a pedestrian is expected to yield to traffic. Indeed, a pedestrian must yield the right of way to an oncoming vehicle when they are crossing at a place other than a marked crosswalk. They also must yield the right of way if they have a “Don’t Walk” signal, and a pedestrian is also prohibited from walking or running into the path of a vehicle. If a sidewalk is available, a pedestrian has a duty to use such a sidewalk rather than to walk upon an adjacent roadway. These laws, and others, are found in Indiana Code Title Nine, Article 21, Chapter 17.
Duties of a Driver
A driver also has certain responsibilities when they operate a motor vehicle, including, like a pedestrian, to follow all posted traffic laws. When it comes to yielding to a pedestrian, a driver must do so when a pedestrian maintains the right of way. Even if a pedestrian does not have the right of way, however, a driver has a duty to stop their vehicle in an attempt to avoid hitting a pedestrian in their path whenever possible. If a driver fails to do that which a reasonable person in the same situation would do to avoid an accident, they can be held liable for damages that result.
Consider, for example, a situation where a pedestrian enters the roadway about 50 feet in front of a motor vehicle. The driver of the motor vehicle sees the pedestrian, but because they have the right of way, they continue along their path without stopping. The pedestrian is hit as a result, and suffers serious injuries. Despite the fact that the pedestrian entered the roadway unlawfully, the driver may still be found at fault or partially at fault due to their failure to slow their vehicle as a reasonable driver in the same situation might have.
Fault May Be Shared
When an accident involving a jaywalking pedestrian occurs, both parties–the pedestrian and the driver of the motor vehicle involved–may be found to be partially at fault; the former for jaywalking, and the latter for failing to exercise the reasonable degree of care to avoid the accident. When fault is shared, the pedestrian may still maintain the right to recover compensation from the driver (via the driver’s liability insurance coverage), but the recoverable damages award can be reduced in proportion to the pedestrian’s fault. For example, if the pedestrian is found to be 40 percent to blame, they will only be able to hold the driver liable for 60 percent of their damages. In a case of jaywalking, however, a pedestrian may be found to be more than 50 percent at fault, in which case they would be barred from recovery.
Call Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers in Fort Wayne to Learn More
If you have been involved in an accident with a pedestrian, or if you are a pedestrian who was hit by a motor vehicle, talking with an experienced attorney who can explain to you our state’s fault laws and your options is a wise idea. At the Delventhal Law Office, our team has years of experience, is passionate about helping injured parties recover compensation, and has a history of success, both in and out of the courtroom. To schedule a free consultation with our Fort Wayne car accident attorneys, please send us a message or call our law firm directly today.