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If a Jaywalker Gets Hit by a Car, Who’s At Fault?


Jaywalking can land you with a steep ticket in L.A., but that’s not the only reason you should think twice before crossing in the middle of the street. If you end up getting injured by a car while jaywalking, you’ll most likely have a weaker case for recovering damages.

In car-pedestrian accidents, as in many other types of accidents, recovering damages comes down to proving that another party was at fault. In many pedestrian accidents, this is fairly straightforward.

Here’s an example: Drew is at a crosswalk. He sees the “walk” sign and begins to cross the street. Joe is looking down at his phone and doesn’t see the light is red, so he doesn’t stop in time to avoid hitting Drew. It seems fairly clear that Joe’s negligence caused Drew’s injury.

But what if things were a little different? Say that Drew crossed in the middle of the street, where there’s no crosswalk. He looked both ways and figured he come to make it safely across. But Joe again is looking down on his phone and doesn’t see Drew in time to slow down. Is Joe still at fault for Drew’s injury?

Contributory Negligence

If Drew brings a personal injury case against Joe, the fact that Drew was jaywalking at the time could come up. Joe might claim that it wasn’t entirely his fault, filing a contributory negligence claim against Drew.

If the court agrees, they’d find that Drew is at least in part responsible for his own injury. And that could significantly reduce the amount of damages he would be able to recover from Joe for the accident since both people would be seen as partially at fault for the accident.