Every year, thousands of pedestrians suffer serious and debilitating injuries in traffic collisions. While negligent and distracted drivers cause many of these accidents, pedestrians can contribute by breaking roadway rules and incorrectly assuming they have the right-of-way. Jaywalking is a dangerous pedestrian practice that involves crossing the street where it may not be safe to do so. If a driver strikes a jaywalking pedestrian, it can be difficult to determine fault for the accident.
Jaywalking Laws in Arizona
Jaywalking refers to a pedestrian crossing the street at a place other than an intersection or marked crosswalk. Arizona Revised Statute 28-793 contains the state’s main jaywalking law. It says that any pedestrian crossing a road someplace other than within a marked crosswalk or intersection must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles. If a pedestrian chooses to jaywalk, he or she must remain on the curb until it is safe to cross, with no vehicles in either lane. Crossing before it is safe to do so could lead to an accident.
While it is not illegal to jaywalk in Arizona, it can place a pedestrian in an unnecessary amount of danger. Pedestrians may misjudge the distance of an oncoming vehicle, fail to see a vehicle or walk into the road under the mistaken impression he or she has the right-of-way. Pedestrians may also assume oncoming drivers will see them and stop. This may not be true, if the driver is not paying attention to the road or does not see the pedestrian, this may result in a serious accident injuring the pedestrian and/or driver.
Pedestrians must also yield the right-of-way to vehicles on the road if crossing someplace other than a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing, if the city has provided one. The only situation in which the law prohibits jaywalking is between adjacent intersections with control signals in operation. In these places, pedestrians must use marked crosswalks. Different cities in Arizona have jurisdiction to create their own jaywalking laws in addition to the state’s law.
Who Is at Fault if You Hit a Pedestrian That Is Jaywalking?
If city or state law prohibits jaywalking and a pedestrian does so anyway, he or she could be liable for a resultant collision. Breaking the jaywalking law could make the pedestrian automatically liable through the rules of negligence per se, which state someone will be strictly liable for an accident if he or she broke a law and caused the accident. If, however, the pedestrian had the right to jaywalk, fault will depend on the situation.
Even if the law allows jaywalking, a pedestrian must do so safely and prudently. Stepping into the road in front of traffic would constitute negligence on the pedestrian’s part and point to the pedestrian’s liability for a car crash. In most cases, a pedestrian will be at fault for an accident that occurs while he or she is jaywalking, since it was the pedestrian’s duty to make sure no vehicles were coming before crossing.
If, however, a driver reasonably could have avoided the crash, the driver could bear fault for the accident. A driver cannot decide to keep going just because a pedestrian is breaking the state or city’s jaywalking laws. Drivers still have a responsibility to try to prevent collisions, even if other parties are breaking the law. A driver that reasonably should have stopped or seen the pedestrian may be at fault if he or she failed to do so.
Arizona’s Comparative Negligence Law
Many jaywalking accident cases involve comparative negligence, or the shared fault of both parties. In Arizona, pure comparative negligence laws hold that a party may recover compensation even if he or she was 99% at fault for the accident. The courts, therefore, may allot a percentage of fault to each party. The pedestrian may bear some fault for stepping into the road when it was not safe to do so, while the driver may bear some fault for failing to hit the brakes in time. In these cases, the plaintiff could receive a reduced award based on his or her amount of fault.