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Who Is to Blame If I’m Hit by a Car While I’m Jaywalking?

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You’re pretty sure you were jaywalking when a car hit you. You’re now wondering if you’re to blame for the crash or could the other driver share some of the blame. Each year, the CDC estimates that 129,000 pedestrians are injured in crashes with vehicles. Almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed. It occurs more often than you might think.

Laws vary from state to state. In Iowa, crossing a road outside of a crosswalk, pedestrian tunnel, or pedestrian bridge is a violation of the law, but there are exceptions. Most importantly is a law called “duty of the driver.” Here’s what you should know.

Pedestrians’ Right-of-Way Laws

Per Section 321.327 of the Iowa Code, pedestrians have the right-of-way when there is no traffic control signal or it’s not working, a driver must yield right of way whether the pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk or not. That means the driver must slow down or stop to let a pedestrian cross.

If you’re crossing in a crosswalk or an unmarked area and the crosswalk light isn’t working, the driver would have to stop for you. If the driver fails to do so, the driver is in violation of the law.

Section 321.329 also discusses the duty of the driver. It’s the driver’s responsibility to use caution when driving to avoid a collision with a pedestrian. The driver may use the horn to alert pedestrians of the vehicle’s presence. Drivers have to watch for children or adults who may not have full mental acuity. Drivers have to watch for pedestrians in construction sites.

Some states have contributory negligence laws. This means that even if the driver was impaired or driving irresponsibly, such as speeding or pushing lights, the jaywalker would be blamed. Few states use this law. It’s only applicable in Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. Many states use comparative negligence that can assign some blame to the jaywalker and some blame to the driver. If you’re uncertain what laws your state follows, contact a personal injury attorney for guidance.

What If You’re Hit By a Car?

If you’re hit by a car, do not admit to anything. Even if you think you were to blame, don’t admit it. Focus on these important steps first. Seek medical treatment for your injuries. If you hit your head, you could have a traumatic brain injury. Don’t try to stand up or walk it off. Let a paramedic assess your injuries and decide if you need to be seen in the hospital.

Try to get witness names and contact information. Police will get this information if they’re called to the scene. Make sure someone gets this information for you. Get a copy of the police report. It can help with a claim.

If you’re able, get photos of the scene, signage, and traffic lights. Traffic lights can malfunction and give you a walk signal while also giving drivers a green light. It has happened before, and photos can help prove this. You may be able to get photos or video footage from other drivers who have dash cams or stores with security cameras.

Keep track of your medical bills, physical therapy appointments, time off work, and other expenses directly related to the accident. If you do have a valid claim against the driver’s auto insurance, you’ll want to present them with the bills that are mounting because of the accident. Even if you’re found to be partially to blame, the driver’s insurance may pay for some of your bills, which helps you financially.

Even if you shouldn’t have crossed where you did, drivers may be at fault for not following the duty of the driver law. That can help you mount a claim against the driver’s auto insurance. Never automatically assume you’re to blame and will get nothing.

Finally, you don’t know the condition of the other driver. Was that driver speeding? Did the driver have a valid license or has it been suspended? Did the driver push a yellow light or run a red one? Was the driver high, stoned, or drunk? All of this can lead to the driver being at fault.

Don’t make any decisions before you talk to a legal expert at Trial Lawyers for Justice. The attorneys understand the laws regarding pedestrian accidents and jaywalking. You may think you’re at fault, but every situation is different. The driver of the car may be partially or totally to blame for the accident. Call TL4J (866) 854-5529 for a free consultation.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".