Countless individuals across Texas have jaywalked at some point in their lives in an attempt to streamline their walk to their destination. Often times, the simple, and often perceived innocent, act of jaywalking is relatively harmless, shaving a little time off the pedestrian’s commute.
Sadly, however, jaywalking doesn’t always end well, with some pedestrians being struck by cars or other motorists while in the middle of the road, leaving them with catastrophic injuries, or even leading to death. Of course, the pedestrian or his or her family could file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for these damages; but is there an opportunity for compensation given the illegal act of jaywalking? Furthermore, if a pedestrian is struck while jaywalking, is he or she at fault for the accident, barring a successful personal injury suit?
What Does the Law Say About Jaywalking and Accidents?
According to Texas Transportation Code Sec. 552.005, pedestrians in Texas must yield the right-of-way to other vehicles if crossing the road at a spot other than in a marked crosswalk. Put differently, pedestrians are thus breaking the law if they choose to jaywalk. But does this mean that a pedestrian in all circumstances is at fault for any car accident that occurs while jaywalking, and that he or she cannot recover compensation?
Not necessarily – because Texas follows a system of modified comparative negligence, jaywalking pedestrians may still be able to recover compensation in an accident if it can be determined that the driver was also partially responsible. Specifically, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Sec. 33.001 declares that an injured party may not recover damages if he or she is deemed more than 50 percent liable for an injury.
To better understand, consider the following scenario: a pedestrian chooses to jaywalk to reach a destination on the other side of the road, and in the process is struck by a motorist. After careful examination of the circumstances, it is determined that the driver wasn’t speeding, texting, drunk, or otherwise acting negligently, and that the pedestrian was entirely responsible. Here, the pedestrian would be barred from recovery.
If, however, the driver was distracted or otherwise negligent, or was breaking a law, and was shown to be more than 50 percent responsible for the crash, the pedestrian could then file a successful suit and be awarded damages. Still, the pedestrian’s award would be decreased by the amount he or she was deemed to be at fault for the act of jaywalking.
When Crossing Isn’t Considered Jaywalking
Often, motorists involved in pedestrian accidents may baselessly claim that the pedestrian was jaywalking at the time, in order to lower their responsibility. It is important to understand, then, that pursuant to Texas law, jaywalking can only occur when a pedestrian crosses the street in the absence of a crosswalk. In turn, walking in a parking lot, across a university, or in any other area devoid of roadways would not constitute jaywalking, and thus the pedestrian could not be considered liable.
Were You Hit By a Car?
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident we encourage you to reach out to us today at Tate Law Offices, P.C., for a free initial consultation today by calling 888-565-7068. We will examine the circumstances of your case and inform you of your options for seeking compensation.