Can Pedestrians Be At Fault for an Accident Under California’s New Laws?

Can Pedestrians Be At Fault for an Accident Under California’s New Laws?

Under recent changes to California’s pedestrian laws, particularly concerning aspects of jaywalking, residents must remain vigilant in their navigation as pedestrians. While it’s true that penalties for certain jaywalking offenses have been relaxed – you won’t be fined for crossing the street outside of a crosswalk or against a traffic signal when no cars are present – this doesn’t equate to an anything-goes situation.

Regarding liability in vehicle-pedestrian accidents after these law revisions, pedestrians can still possibly be found at fault.

What Exactly Are The New Laws?

The “Freedom to Walk Act,” also known as AB 2147, signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, represents a notable shift in the way jaywalking laws are enforced within the state. This act effectively decriminalizes certain acts of pedestrian violations that were previously penalized under stringent jaywalking legislation.

 A fine may only be issued now if a pedestrian’s actions pose an immediate risk for collision — when it would not seem safe to a “reasonably careful person” to cross the street. This keeps pedestrians from being fined simply for infractions where there is no present danger.

This bill would prohibit a peace officer, as defined, from stopping a pedestrian for specified traffic infractions unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.

While there is now leniency for crossing streets outside of designated crosswalks assuming it can be done safely, the law does not grant unchecked permission to disregard traffic controls or act hazardously. When pedestrians choose to cross the street outside of a marked or controlled crosswalk, they must still yield to motor vehicles. They hold responsibility for ensuring there is no risk of an imminent crash before crossing.

If you engage in what is considered dangerous jaywalking behavior – like stepping out into traffic without checking or disregarding oncoming vehicles – you could receive a citation carrying a fine of up to $196 plus additional court fees.

What This Means for Personal Injury Cases Involving Pedestrians 

If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle under the new law, it doesn’t resolve questions of liability; each accident would be scrutinized on a case-by-case basis.

If you’re the injured pedestrian, you have the right to pursue legal action and file a lawsuit against the driver. However, it’s crucial to understand that not receiving a citation for jaywalking does not shield you from being potentially found at fault or partially at fault in an incident.

Under California’s comparative fault system, each party involved in the legal proceedings will be assigned a percentage of fault. Any compensation you are awarded at the end of the trial would then be reduced by this percentage.

For instance, you are struck by a vehicle as you crossed outside of a crosswalk, but the car was speeding and ran a red light. The court determines that you were 25% responsible for the accident. In this case, any compensation awarded to you would be reduced by 25%.

Understanding the nuances of California’s new jaywalking laws and how they may impact liability in personal injury cases is essential if you find yourself involved in an accident. If you were injured and believe someone else was primarily to blame, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a Fresno pedestrian accident lawyer.

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