Who Holds Fault If a Pedestrian Is Hit While Jaywalking?

When a driver hits someone with their car, he or she is always the one getting criticism. Everyone assumes that the driver was driving too fast, that they had alcohol or drugs before driving, or that a distraction was involved. But in some cases, pedestrians are also at fault for car accidents, especially if they violate traffic rules. 

What happens when a pedestrian is jaywalking and gets hit by a car? Who holds fault in this case? If you’d like to be prepared for an incident like this, keep on reading – this article is packed with useful information on the matter.

What Is Jaywalking?

From a very young age, we are taught to only cross the road at crosswalks and designated areas and always look left and right before we step on the crosswalk. 

In every part of the world, there are special laws that tell pedestrians when and where they are allowed to cross the road. If they do not do it in these specially designated places, they are breaking the law. This is known as jaywalking. 

The United States also has different laws in each state when it comes to this traffic violation. In most states, jaywalking is against the law. Basically, a pedestrian is jaywalking when they don’t yield the right of way to vehicles or when they cross against a red light. 

People don’t usually see this as an issue, especially when the pedestrian can cross fast enough and when the pedestrian is in a rush and crosswalks are too far away. But aside from being illegal, jaywalking is also dangerous. Running through oncoming traffic makes it hard for some vehicles to see you on time, and they may not have enough time to brake and prevent an accident. 

Can a Driver Be at Fault?

Since the pedestrian is crossing the road when they’re not supposed to, it’s easy to conclude that it’s the pedestrian’s fault in the first place. But could the driver be at fault as well?

Under the principle of negligence, drivers also have a duty of care. They must be responsible and always be on the lookout for any pedestrians who decide to cross the street unexpectedly. The driver may be negligent when they are unable to act within the legal standard of care. 

For example, the driver may have been driving at exaggerated speeds, driven a vehicle unsafely, or used their phone at the same time. As such, the driver is at fault for the accident and will have to compensate the victim. 

Can a Pedestrian Be at Fault?

Similar to drivers, pedestrians must also be careful and only cross at designated spots. Jaywalking is a violation of traffic walks, and if they were jaywalking when they were hit by a car, then they may be held responsible. This applies even if the pedestrian has the worse injury out of the two parties involved. 

However, liability will be determined by certain factors. These include, of course, the law in that particular state, and the circumstances of the incident. For instance, did the pedestrian jaywalk because there weren’t any crossing areas nearby? In this case, the pedestrian may not be at fault. 

It’s very important to consult the laws in your state and find out in which situations the pedestrians jaywalking would not be held liable. 

Three aspects are taken into consideration when determining fault in car accidents, respectively:


  • Breach of Duty – When unlawfully crossing the road, a pedestrian might have preached his/her duty of care.
  • Duty of Care – Respecting traffic laws is the duty of all pedestrians. This means a pedestrian should also not cross the street when it’s unsafe or illegal to do so.
  • If the pedestrian’s breach of duty is the reason for the accident, then the pedestrian will be at fault. 


Depending on where you live, a pedestrian being held liable for an accident due to jaywalking can deal with different consequences. For instance, they will not be able to file an insurance claim against the driver and would have to use their own money to pay for the medical bills. 

Final Thoughts

Fault in a car accident caused by a jaywalking pedestrian is determined in different ways based on the law. For example, in California, the damages in such cases are determined based on the negligence of the pedestrian. It may be possible for the pedestrian to still get some compensation sometimes. Whether you are a driver or pedestrian injured in such an accident, you should hire a Sacramento car accident attorney or another specialist in your area to give you advice on what to do moving forward.