If you are hit by a car while crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, is it automatically your fault? In most cases, a person hit by a car under these circumstances is accused of “J-walking” and is accused by police and insurance companies of violating the law and at being at fault for their own injuries. Very often these accusations against the pedestrian are wrong.
In California, IT IS LAWFUL to cross a street outside of a crosswalk, in mid block, if the block does not have traffic control lights at both ends. California Vehicle Code secrtion 21955 requires that you must cross the street in a crosswalk only when the intersection at each end of the block is controlled by traffic lights. That means that crossing mid block it is not against the law as long as both ends of the block are not controlled by traffic lights. Why is this important to your personal injury claim?
In most police reports on these types of injury incidents, the police have not read the law and therefore do not understand it. They usually incorrectly assume that crossing the street mid block is a violation of law and they say so in their reports that typically blame the pedestrian / victim. Insurance companies then pick up on the incorrectr opinions of the police officers and use that to deny claims. By establishing that the pedestrian crossing the street was no in violation of the law, the false police opinions are knocked out as a factor, as are the incorrect denials of the injury claim by the insurance company.
This does not mean that crossing being hit by a car while crossing the street mid block is safe, or that the pedestrian crossed the street in a safe manner. It just means that there was no violation of the law. The pedestrian MUST ALWAYS be careful when crossing the street anywhere, in or outside of an intersection. This is particularly true when crossing mid block. California Vehicle Code section 21954 requires that a pedestrian crossing outside of a crosswalk must yield the right of way to all approaching vehicles that are so close as to constitute a hazard. But, even so, the driver of a car is not relieved of his or her duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian on the roadway. regardless of where in the roadway the pedestrian in or where they are crossing the street.
Car vs. pedestrian collisions occur often, but not necessarily, because of the carlessness of both the pedestrian and the motorist. As with all injury cases, the specific facts of each case will determine where fault or responsibility lies, whether in favor of the pedestrian or the driver. The bottom line is be careful when crossing the street wherever you chose to cross. Cross in a crosswalk where possible. But don’t allow yourself to be wrongfully blamed for “j-walking” or for causing your own injuries while crossing the street.