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Jaywalking Is Legal, but Is It Safe?

California jay walking

Jaywalking has a reputation for being an illegal act, but depending on where you live in the country, it may or may not be against the law to cross in the middle of the street as opposed to at an intersection or crosswalk. Jaywalking is legal in some states and illegal in others. Last year, California joined the group of states enacting laws to specifically legalize, or at least decriminalize, the act of jaywalking. Read on to learn more about California’s new Freedom to Walk Act and its implications for motorist and pedestrian safety. If you have been injured in a car or pedestrian accident in Los Angeles or the Antelope Valley, contact Kistler Law Firm to speak with a dedicated Lancaster personal injury lawyer.

The Historical and Current Legal Status of Jaywalking in California

Historically, jaywalking in California was deemed illegal, with laws strictly prohibiting pedestrians from crossing roads outside of designated crosswalks. This legislation was rooted in an effort to reduce traffic accidents and ensure the safety of both pedestrians and motorists. However, the legal landscape began to shift with the introduction of the Freedom to Walk Act, which significantly relaxed these restrictions.

The Freedom to Walk Act, signed by Governor Newsom on September 30, 2022, and effective starting January 1, 2023, marks a progressive change in California’s approach to pedestrian movement in urban and suburban areas. Under this act, pedestrians can legally cross roads outside of marked crosswalks, provided their action does not immediately endanger themselves or disrupt traffic flow. This legislative adjustment reflects a broader recognition of pedestrian rights and the importance of fostering more pedestrian-friendly environments.

The Dangers of Jaywalking: A Dual Concern for Motorists and Pedestrians

While the Freedom to Walk Act provides more freedom to pedestrians, it does not get rid of the inherent dangers of jaywalking. For motorists in Lancaster and throughout California, unexpected pedestrians on the road can pose significant risks. Drivers may have limited time to react, leading to potential accidents that can cause severe injuries or even fatalities.

Pedestrians, too, face considerable dangers when jaywalking. Roads are primarily designed for vehicular traffic, and crossing outside designated areas increases the risk of being struck by vehicles. Such accidents can result in serious injuries to pedestrians, given the speed and mass of motor vehicles compared to the human body.

Liability in Car vs. Pedestrian Accidents: The Role of Comparative Negligence

In the unfortunate event of a car versus pedestrian accident, determining liability involves a complex legal process. California’s approach to comparative negligence often plays a pivotal role in this context. Comparative negligence allows for the allocation of fault between the involved parties based on their respective contributions to the accident.

This means that if a pedestrian is found to be jaywalking at the time of the accident, their ability to recover damages may be reduced proportionally to their degree of fault. Although jaywalking is lawful, it must still be undertaken with care. If the pedestrian is considered to have crossed the street negligently or recklessly, such as darting into traffic from between parked cars or texting while crossing the street, they may bear some portion of liability in the crash.

Conversely, if a motorist is determined to have been driving recklessly or not paying attention, they could bear a significant portion of the liability. The intricacies of establishing fault underscore the importance of consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can navigate these legal waters effectively. As an injury victim, you want to ensure you are not apportioned any blame that doesn’t belong to you so that you can recover the maximum compensation available.

Contact Kistler Law Firm for Help After a Car, Truck, or Pedestrian Accident in Lancaster

At Kistler Law Firm, we are committed to advocating for the safety and rights of Lancaster’s residents. Understanding the legalities of jaywalking, the associated dangers, and the implications of comparative negligence is crucial for anyone navigating California’s roadways. If you find yourself involved in a pedestrian accident, our experienced team is here to provide the legal support and guidance needed to pursue a successful claim against the negligent party responsible for the crash. Call 661-206-6990 for a free consultation to talk about what happened and find out how we can help.

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