Everyone knows that jaywalking is illegal, but many people do it anyway. Jaywalking is crossing the street at a time or location which is against the law. It could be crossing a street mid-block. It could be crossing at a crosswalk against the light. Many people, including myself, occasionally jaywalk because it seems safe to do so. If you look both ways and there are no cars coming, you should be able to cross safely, right?
Well, maybe. But what if your judgment is off? What if that one time you are less careful and a passing car doesn’t see you? What if you get hit by a car and severely injured while you are jaywalking? Do you still have a claim for your injuries? Can you get a financial recovery?
My very lawyer-like answer to this question is: “it depends.”
In Washington we have a system of comparative negligence. That means more than one person can be responsible for causing an accident or injury. In the case of a jaywalker, the pedestrian almost certainly shares some of the blame for the injury. However, violating the law isn’t the same thing as negligence, and there are situations in which the driver could still be found 100% responsible for the injury. It is more likely that it will be considered a shared liability situation.
The question to ask in determining whether the driver has a share of the fault is whether a reasonable driver under the same circumstances would have seen the pedestrian and been able to take evasive action. If the driver was distracted, speeding or under the influence of medication or alcohol, he will likely be considered to share the blame.
A simple way to avoid this situation is to not jaywalk ever. But if you do get hit while jaywalking, don’t assume you have no claim. Just to make sure, its always best to consult with a Washington personal injury lawyer with experience handling pedestrian claims.