It is not only the driver's responsibility to keep the roads safe at all times; that obligation is given to everyone benefitting from it, including pedestrians. Vehicular accidents are not entirely the fault of the driver. There are cases when, due to negligence and irresponsibility, a pedestrian's action can spiral out of control and lead to bigger and more dangerous incidents. An example of this is Jaywalking.
Jaywalking is the act of illegally walking or crossing in traffic roads, specifically crossroads or intersection, disregarding any existing traffic laws. To discourage people from doing so, California enacted California Vehicle Code VC 21955.
California Jaywalking Law
California Vehicle Code VC 21955 or California's Jaywalking law is the statute enacted to declare jaywalking as a legally punishable offense. It states that between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.
Note that this rule applies in both residential and non-residential areas. Yes, there might be less traffic and marked roads in residential areas, but the law stays the same. If there is an intersection controlled by traffic signaling devices, i.e., traffic lights or signages, a pedestrian shall not cross the road unless there is a crosswalk or pedestrian crossings or lanes.
Jaywalking is a traffic violation committed by pedestrians rather than drivers. The term pedestrian refers to anyone in the streets without motor vehicles, including:
- People walking,
- People with a motorized assistive mobility device,
- Scooter riders,
- Roller skaters,
- Rollerbladers, etc.
Penalty for Jaywalking in California
Violating the state of California's VC 21955 or the law against jaywalking is an infraction. Infractions are the low-tier violations among the levels of criminal offense severity. Most of these are just petty small-scale violations with punishments that are usually only fines and compensations and sometimes, on rare occasions, a very short prison time.
Jaywalkers usually face a ticket worth one hundred and ninety-six dollars ($196). However, that is just the base fine and does not include all the additional necessary fees like:
- state-sanctioned fees,
- administrative fees, and/or
- assessment fees.
Despite being a traffic violation, jaywalking does not earn more points on the DMV's (Department of Motor Vehicles) driving record.
In instances when a person, while committing the act of jaywalking, got hit by a car resulting in physical injuries, the violator can still file a lawsuit against the driver who injured him/her. This is made possible by California's comparative negligence laws. However, under this regulation, the compensation will be based on the level of fault or responsibility.
California's Comparative Negligence Law
California's comparative fault or comparative negligence refers to the manner of settling disputes that involve shared liability for an incident. This includes scenarios where violators sustain injuries while committing the act, i.e., a pedestrian getting hit by a car while jaywalking. During those cases, the civil liability in providing damage compensations shall only be at a just level depending on the court's verdict of designating responsibility. Aside from vehicular accidents, other cases include:
- Medical malpractice,
- Product liability,
- Workplace accidents, etc.
There are two types of comparative negligence, these are:
- Pure comparative negligence, or
- Modified comparative negligence.
- California Vehicle Code VC 275 – Crosswalk definition
- California Vehicle Code VC 467 – What it means to be a pedestrian
- California Vehicle Code VC 21950 – Proper crosswalk and road crossing
- California Vehicle Code VC 21954 – Yielding the right-of-way to motor vehicles
- California Vehicle Code VC 21956 – Proper way of crossing the street using a crossing light
- California Vehicle Code VC 21970 – Forbidding driver from stopping in and blocking crosswalks
Jaywalking may seem like a minor offense; however, the consequences of the act can be severe. It can result in serious physical injury if not death. Especially the fact that it can be linked to the highly nuanced comparative negligence law. When facing legal disputes, be it major or minor, it would be the involved party's best decision to seek legal support from our experienced California lawyers. They can help a victim their rightful and just compensation that equate to the damages that were inflicted upon them or help the defendant lower the charges and penalties, if not totally dismiss them.
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