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What Happens If You Hit A Jaywalker In California?

September 14, 2023 by  
Filed under Health, Money/Business, Politics, Weekly Columns

( As a driver, you have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care and caution while operating your vehicle. This includes being vigilant for pedestrians and obeying traffic laws. But, no matter how careful you are as a driver, sometimes accidents just happen. While collisions are common, you can also find yourself hitting someone.

In California, the legal implications of hitting a jaywalker while driving can vary based on several factors. A jaywalker refers to a pedestrian who crosses a street illegally, not adhering to designated crosswalks or traffic signals. 

According to Easton & Easton, LLP, if you hit a jaywalker in California, the outcome will depend on whether you were found to be driving negligently or recklessly. If you were driving within the speed limit and taking appropriate precautions, you might not be held fully liable for the accident. 

However, if it’s determined that you were speeding, distracted, or otherwise not driving responsibly, you could face legal consequences, including potential civil liability for the pedestrian’s injuries and criminal charges if your behavior is deemed particularly egregious.

Let’s take a look at jaywalking laws in California:

Understanding Jaywalking Laws in California

In California, pedestrians generally have the right of way, but they are also required to follow traffic signals and use designated crosswalks when available. Jaywalking, or crossing a street illegally outside of designated areas, can result in fines and citations. 

However, the enforcement of these laws can vary depending on local jurisdictions and specific circumstances. Drivers should be vigilant and prepared to yield to pedestrians, especially near crosswalks, while pedestrians should prioritize their safety by using crosswalks and following traffic rules to avoid potential accidents and legal consequences.

What Happens If You Hit A Jaywalker In California?

Responsibilities of Pedestrians and Drivers in California

In California, both pedestrians and drivers share the responsibility of ensuring road safety. Pedestrians are obligated to use designated crosswalks and follow traffic signals when crossing streets, while also exercising caution to prevent unexpected movements that could endanger themselves or drivers. 

Drivers are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians within crosswalks and at intersections, maintaining a vigilant watch for individuals on foot. 

Both parties must adhere to traffic laws to minimize accidents, with drivers maintaining a safe speed and avoiding distractions, and pedestrians refraining from jaywalking and staying attentive while crossing roads. 

Understanding and respecting each other’s roles on the road is essential to fostering a secure and harmonious traffic environment in California.

Potential Legal Consequences for Hitting a Jaywalker

As mentioned, if it’s determined that the driver was not at fault or was driving responsibly, they might not face significant legal repercussions. However, if the driver was found to be negligent or reckless, such as speeding or not paying attention, they could face civil liability for the pedestrian’s injuries and potential criminal charges. 

California’s comparative negligence system also comes into play, where the fault could be shared between the driver and the jaywalker based on their actions. It’s crucial for drivers to remain at the scene, provide assistance, report the incident, and cooperate with law enforcement. 

Seeking legal counsel and promptly informing their insurance company will help drivers navigate the potential legal complexities following an accident involving a jaywalker.

Reporting an Accident Involving a Jaywalker

Reporting an accident involving a jaywalker in California is a crucial step to ensure legal compliance and proper documentation of the incident. Following the collision, drivers should immediately stop at the scene, check on the condition of the jaywalker, and offer any necessary assistance or medical aid. 

Contacting local law enforcement to report the accident is essential, especially if there are injuries or property damage exceeding $1,000, as required by law. Providing an accurate account of the incident, detailing the location, time, and circumstances, will contribute to a comprehensive accident report. 

Additionally, drivers should exchange contact information with any witnesses present and gather information from the jaywalker, if possible. Adhering to these reporting procedures will help establish a clear record of the event and ensure that the appropriate legal and insurance processes can take place.

Insurance Coverage and Claims Process

For drivers, their auto insurance policy’s liability coverage typically comes into play, covering bodily injuries and property damage to others in case they are found at fault. 

Drivers should promptly inform their insurance provider about the accident, provide all relevant details, and cooperate fully throughout the claims process. Pedestrians who are injured as a result of being hit by a vehicle should also consider filing a claim with the driver’s insurance, seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages. 

However, the process might become more complex if shared fault is determined or if the jaywalker’s actions significantly contributed to the accident.

Seeking Legal Assistance and Representation

Seeking legal assistance and representation can be crucial for all parties involved in an accident with a jaywalker in California. An attorney can provide guidance on navigating the legal complexities, assessing liability, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing their clients’ best interests in negotiations or court proceedings. 

Legal professionals can also help ensure that all necessary evidence is collected and presented effectively to establish the facts of the case. With their expertise, individuals can make informed decisions and pursue the most favorable outcomes in what can often be intricate legal scenarios resulting from accidents involving jaywalkers.

Factors Considered in Determining Fault

Determining fault in accidents involving jaywalkers in California involves considering a range of factors that contribute to the overall situation. The behavior of both the driver and the jaywalker is analyzed, with attention to whether the pedestrian was crossing at a designated crosswalk, adhering to traffic signals, or engaging in reckless behavior. 

Similarly, the driver’s actions, such as their speed, attentiveness, and adherence to traffic laws, are scrutinized. The comparative negligence system in California acknowledges that both parties can share responsibility to varying degrees based on their actions leading up to the accident. 

Witness statements, available surveillance footage, and expert opinions may also be considered in determining the allocation of fault. This complex interplay of factors helps authorities and insurance companies establish a clear understanding of the circumstances and assign fault proportionately in accidents involving jaywalkers.


Accidents involving jaywalkers in California encompass a complex interplay of legal, safety, and behavioral factors that require careful consideration. Understanding the potential legal consequences, insurance coverage, and claims process is essential for all parties involved.

Regardless if you are a driver or you are a jaywalker, it is best to seek legal representation to get compensation and hold the person responsible.

Staff Writer; Paul Shaw

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