Can Drivers Be Partially at Fault for a Crash with a Jaywalker?

man improperly crossing the roadVehicle collisions involving pedestrians often result in some of the most serious types of injuries. Although pedestrians are expected to follow the rules of the road, drivers also have a responsibility to prevent an accident. An injured jaywalker may still be able to recover compensation for his or her injuries if the driver is partially at fault.

Learn more about your legal options after a jaywalking accident by contacting our Green Bay car accident attorneys today. We offer a free consultation, and there are no fees while we work on your case.

Below, we discuss the legal duties of pedestrians and drivers who are sharing the road and how drivers and pedestrians could share liability for damages that may result from a crash.

Why Jaywalking Crashes Often Occur

Jaywalking is dangerous for many reasons – in fact, many fatal pedestrian crashes involved jaywalking. For example, drivers are not expecting people to cross the street outside of a crosswalk. This can make it harder to avoid a collision, particularly if a pedestrian runs out into the street while there is traffic, which often happens. Sometimes pedestrians are hard to see because they run out from behind a car that is parallel parked.

Unfortunately, drivers are often distracted, even in areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic. If they look away from the road for just a second, they could easily crash into a pedestrian, particularly one who is jaywalking.

Sometimes jaywalkers are not paying much attention to oncoming traffic. They may misjudge how far away an approaching vehicle is. They may be looking at their smartphone instead of oncoming traffic and may not even hustle to get across the street.

Many pedestrian crashes occur when drivers are turning left or right. Unfortunately, many drivers do not look out for pedestrians before starting to turn. This is a dangerous situation for pedestrians because pedestrians may not come into view of the driver until the driver starts to turn.

Icy road conditions can make it harder for vehicles to stop, which can increase the risk of a crash with a pedestrian, particularly one who is jaywalking.

Jaywalking pedestrians who are wearing dark clothing, particularly at night, are at greater risk for getting hit by a car.

Is Jaywalking Illegal in Wisconsin?

When a pedestrian crosses the street outside of the marked crosswalk, it is considered jaywalking. The law in Wisconsin does not specify whether jaywalking is legal or illegal.

However, it does specify that pedestrians, cyclists or others crossing the road outside of an unmarked crosswalk shall yield the right of way to all vehicles on the roadway.

What Are a Pedestrian’s Responsibilities to Prevent a Collision?

Pedestrians are expected to follow the signs at a controlled crosswalk. For example, a pedestrian shall not cross a controlled intersection if the pedestrian signs read “Do Not Walk.”

At non-controlled intersections, pedestrians have the right of way in most scenarios but must only cross when the road is clear if the roadway is a busy intersection or highway.

Pedestrians are prohibited from suddenly leaving a curb or other place of safety to walk or run into the path of an oncoming vehicle that does not have enough time to come to a full stop.

If there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian must walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.

Some other safety precautions pedestrians should keep in mind when attempting to cross the road include:

  • Paying attention to surroundings
  • Avoiding being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Taking greater precautions when visibility is low
  • Keeping an eye on children or others who are unable to detect dangers on the road

Overall, pedestrians are expected to use common sense and take care not to cause an accident.

What Duty of Care Do Drivers Have to Pedestrians?

Just as pedestrians have a duty of care to drivers, so do drivers to pedestrians. That duty is amplified for drivers, as their negligence can result in far more serious harm to someone walking along the road.

Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians at most intersections. Drivers are sometimes not allowed to make turns if there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Wisconsin law also specifies that drivers must reduce their speed in pedestrian-heavy areas like residential neighborhoods, school zones, areas with playgrounds, parks or swimming pools.

If a vehicle is stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross, approaching drivers must also bring their own vehicle to a stop. They must also not overtake the stopped vehicle so they can allow the pedestrians to cross the road.

If a driver fails to adhere to these laws, he or she may be liable for a collision with a pedestrian.

How is Fault for a Jaywalking Accident Shared?

In some cases, both the pedestrian and the driver involved in a collision may share fault. This is usually the case for a jaywalking accident.

If the pedestrian was jaywalking before the collision occurred, it is important to determine whether the actions of the driver contributed to the accident as well. For example, if the driver was:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol

If the jaywalker attempted to cross the road at night, when visibility was low, but the driver was not focused on the road, both parties could bear some fault for the collision.

Can a Pedestrian Recover Compensation After a Jaywalking Crash?

If a pedestrian is hit by a car while jaywalking, he or she may be wondering whether compensation for damages may be available. The answer may depend on several factors.

First, it is important to understand Wisconsin’s comparative negligence laws. According to the law, an accident victim is not barred from recovering compensation for damages so long as he or she is not more at fault than the other party. Fault is based on whose actions are considered more negligent. It will be up to an attorney to build a strong case proving the driver acted more negligently than the jaywalker.

For example, a driver may bear significantly more fault for an accident with a jaywalking pedestrian if he or she was distracted, speeding or broke some other traffic law and caused the collision.

Once each party is assigned a percentage of fault for the collision, the compensation awarded to the injury victim may be reduced by that amount. For example, if the jaywalker is found 10 percent at fault for $10,000 worth of damages, he or she may only recover $9,000.

Call a Knowledgeable Attorney Today

The process for recovering compensation after a jaywalking accident may be complex. It may be in your best interest to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you build a strong case. Our attorneys have the resources to thoroughly investigate your claim and determine the extent of another party’s negligent actions.

We can discuss your claim during a free legal consultation. If you choose to work with our firm, we do not charge you any upfront fees. There is no risk to you.

Call (877) 888-5201 today to get started.