In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, the California Highway Patrol reported that 1,034 people were killed and 14,126 were injured in pedestrian accidents in the state. Pedestrians have nothing protecting them when they are struck by vehicles and absorb the physical forces released in a collision with their bodies. Because of this, they are much more likely to suffer serious injuries or to be killed in pedestrian accidents involving motor vehicles. In an attempt to reduce pedestrian accidents and resulting injuries and deaths jaywalking laws were put into law to encourage pedestrians to cross at intersections and in crosswalks.
The California legislature recently passed a bill that changed how the state handles jaywalking. Here’s what you need to know about the new jaywalking law and its likely impact on pedestrian accident claims. On August 25, 2022, the California Legislature passed the “Freedom to Walk” bill. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on Sept. 30, 2022, and it became effective on Jan. 1, 2023. Under this new law, several changes were made to California’s existing jaywalking laws. The bill, which was sponsored by Phil Ting, (D-San Francisco), came in response to activists who have argued for years that the state’s jaywalking laws have been used to target low-income people and minorities.
This new law allows people to cross the street anywhere that it is safe without facing potential citations and fines. This includes crossing outside of designated crosswalks and intersections. The lone exception is crossing in a place where a reasonably careful person would determine that there would be an imminent danger of an accident with a motor vehicle. While pedestrians in other major cities such as New York rarely issue jaywalking tickets, those in California have faced significant ticketing when they cross outside of designated crossing areas or fail to finish crossing before the walk signal ends. Research from Rep. Ting, shows that people of color are 4.5 times more likely to be ticketed for jaywalking than white people.
Under the previous statute,ant people on foot might have hesitated to cross in non-designated areas because of the risk of citations and hefty fines. Since jaywalking has now been decriminalized, there might be an increase in the number of pedestrian accidents as more people try to cross the roads in areas other than intersections and crosswalks. Drivers also might not expect pedestrians to cross in midblock areas, and both pedestrians and motorists might be distracted by cell phones and other devices and fail to notice each other. It will likely take time for drivers and pedestrians to become accustomed to this new law and adjust their behavior accordingly. AB-2147 doesn’t absolve pedestrians of their duty to check for traffic before they step onto the street.
Pedestrians cited for jaywalking after being injured in a crash still retain the right to seek compensation through a personal injury claim against the motorist. Under the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, every person is responsible for their degree of negligence in an accident. Someone who is partly at fault is not barred from recovering compensatory damages. Even when an injured pedestrian is primarily at fault for causing an accident, that will not prevent them from recovering compensation for their injuries and losses. However, any award will be reduced by the fault percentage a jury apportions to them. Compensatory damages are monetary amounts that are designed to compensate accident victims for the following types of losses:
- Past and future medical expenses to treat accident-related injuries
- Past and future income losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Psychological harm
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium or guidance
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Wrongful death damages in cases in which pedestrians are killed
We represent people who are injured because of the careless and reckless acts of others. At the end of the day your case can only be settled one time and you need to know all of the facts beforehand. The reason that insurance companies have paid our clients in excess of $130,000,000.00 is that we get the facts and are not intimidated at the prospect of going to trial when insurance companies fail to offer full compensation. A Sacramento personal injury lawyer can help with serious injuries that require serious representation. We are the Law Offices of Guenard & Bozarth, LLP. Our attorneys have more than 60 years of experience specializing in only representing injured people. Call GB Legal 24/7/365 at 888-809-1075 or contact Guenard & Bozarth online. We would be honored to represent you!