Jaywalking Can Lead to Pedestrian Injuries
We have all heard stories about people getting hit by cars in Philadelphia. Sometimes, it is the driver’s fault. Sometimes it is the pedestrians. In both Philadelphia and New Jersey, the police are looking to increase enforcement of jaywalking penalties. With the increase in cell phones, jaywalking is an increasing problem. Many people focus on their phones while they are walking and fail to notice what is going on around them. “In Philadelphia, pedestrians routinely ignore red lights and “don’t walk” signals, and are as likely to cross in the middle of a block as at a crosswalk.” Unfortunately, this kind of behavior leads to serious injuries and even deaths for pedestrians. In fact, in Philadelphia, pedestrians represent a greater share of traffic fatalities than they do in the rest of the nation. 32% of traffic fatalities in Philadelphia involved pedestrians in 2012. This is compared to 14% around the rest of the nation.
What is Jaywalking?
Laws vary by state and sometimes locality, but there are a number of general rules pedestrians are required to follow.
- Obey all traffic control signals. It is illegal to cross against a stop signal.
- If there is a crosswalk available and a pedestrian crosses elsewhere, he is required to yield to automobiles.
- When there is no traffic signal and no crosswalk, a pedestrian is required to cross straight through the intersection, i.e. not at a diagonal. This is something people sometimes do to cross both vertically and horizontally at once.
- Pedestrians must cross at overhead crossings or tunnels, or they must yield the right of way to automobile traffic if they cross on the road.
- It should be obvious, but pedestrians may not abruptly walk off the curb or enter the path of traffic.
Liability when Pedestrians Break the Law
Drivers are required to avoid pedestrians if they can. But if the pedestrian darts in front of a car, a driver is not likely to be held responsible for any injuries the pedestrian sustains. In fact, the pedestrian might be responsible for any damage to the driver or his vehicle. In addition, if a pedestrian violates the law and is injured as a result, he may find that a jury will consider him more liable than the driver. This is called comparative negligence. If the pedestrian is more than 50% at fault, he will not be able to recover compensation for his injuries. If he is 50% or less at fault, he may recover, but the amount will be decreased by his percentage of responsibility.
Avoid Jaywalking to Avoid Getting Hurt
In the end, it is always best to avoid being hit by a car in the first place. Financial compensation never makes up for the serious injuries or loss of life that can occur when a car encounters a human being. As a driver, even if the accident is not your fault, if you seriously injure or kill someone, the emotional toll will be horrific.
Contact L&A for Help
If the worst happens and you are injured in a pedestrian accident, please feel free to contact Lowenthal & Abrams. We have experience representing pedestrians who were injured due to the negligence of drivers and drivers who were hurt when trying to avoid negligent pedestrians.