Who Is At Fault When a Pedestrian Is Hit While Jaywalking?

Pedestrian accidents can cause life-altering injuries that leave victims struggling with overwhelming medical bills, lost income, and immense pain and suffering. If a vehicle struck you while you crossed the street outside of a designated crosswalk, you may assume you cannot pursue compensation for your losses. However, Illinois law does not automatically bar jaywalking pedestrians from seeking a legal recovery. Determining fault in these cases depends heavily on the specific circumstances surrounding the collision.

Duties of Pedestrians and Motorists

Pedestrians and drivers are responsible for exercising reasonable care and obeying traffic safety laws. Pedestrians should cross at marked crosswalks or intersections whenever possible and yield the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing elsewhere. Illinois law prohibits pedestrians from suddenly leaving a curb or other safe waiting place and walking into the path of an approaching vehicle that cannot stop in time to avoid a collision.

However, drivers also must remain alert, watch for pedestrians, and take appropriate precautions to avoid striking them – even those crossing outside of crosswalks. Illinois law explicitly requires motorists to exercise “due care” to avoid hitting pedestrians in all situations, regardless of who has the right-of-way. Drivers must also yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks and at intersections controlled by traffic signals or stop signs.

Factors That Influence Fault in Jaywalking Accidents

When a vehicle hits a jaywalking pedestrian, courts consider several key elements to determine each party’s degree of responsibility.

Speed of the Vehicle

Drivers must travel at a safe speed based on traffic, weather, and road conditions. They must maintain a speed that allows them to stop within a reasonable distance if a hazard appears. If the motorist exceeded the posted speed limit or traveled too fast for the conditions during the pedestrian collision, they likely bear a substantial portion of the blame.

Visibility Conditions

Poor lighting and inclement weather, such as heavy rain, snow, or fog, can make it difficult for drivers to spot pedestrians attempting to cross the street. The law requires motorists to slow down and use extra caution in these low-visibility situations. Failing to adjust their speed and behavior for hazardous conditions often renders drivers liable for collisions with jaywalking pedestrians.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving plays a significant role in many pedestrian accidents, including those involving jaywalkers. Common distractions include texting, using a GPS, eating, grooming, and conversing with passengers. If evidence like cell phone records, traffic cameras, vehicle data, or eyewitness testimony shows the driver was distracted when they hit the pedestrian, they typically bear fault for the crash.

Impaired Driving

Motorists who cause pedestrian accidents while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or impairing prescription medications almost always bear primary responsibility for the collision – even if the pedestrian was jaywalking. Impairment degrades an individual’s judgment, reaction time, and ability to detect and respond to pedestrians in the roadway. Intoxicated drivers rarely escape liability for striking pedestrians.

Pedestrian Behavior

Sometimes, a jaywalking pedestrian’s conduct makes them chiefly responsible for the accident. Examples include darting out from behind a parked vehicle or purposely disrupting traffic. However, drivers may still share some blame if they could have safely avoided the collision by exercising due care as required by law. Eyewitness accounts, surveillance video, and physical evidence help clarify each party’s role.

Can Jaywalking Pedestrians Still Recover Compensation?

Many jaywalking pedestrians believe they cannot pursue damages from the driver who hit them. However, Illinois’ comparative negligence law allows injured parties to seek compensation from an at-fault defendant if the victim was not more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. The court will reduce the plaintiff’s financial recovery by a percentage equal to their assigned degree of fault.

Protecting Your Rights After a Pedestrian Accident

If a careless driver caused your pedestrian accident injuries, contact the compassionate legal team at Stein & Shulman, LLC today for a free consultation. We are here to fight for your rights and recover the compensation you deserve.