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How Does Jaywalking Play Into Pedestrian Accident Liability?

February 7 2023 | Pedestrian Accidents

In at-fault insurance states like Connecticut, it matters who is at fault in an accident, including pedestrian accidents. The person who causes an accident to occur is the one who must pay for the injured party’s damages, typically through their insurance policy. While Connecticut law stipulates that drivers have the responsibility to protect pedestrians by slowing down, stopping, and taking other means to avoid a collision with a vulnerable pedestrian, it also views jaywalking as a violation of the state’s traffic and pedestrian laws.

Whether you are a driver or a pedestrian, it’s important to understand the state’s modified comparative fault system and how it relates to jaywalking.

What is Jaywalking?

The word “jaywalking” is an early 1900s term once used to describe “country jays” who visited the city and didn’t understand how to navigate urban streets filled with newly introduced automobiles. Connecticut law now defines jaywalking as crossing a street on foot at midblock, or where there is no crosswalk, either marked or unmarked. (An unmarked crosswalk is a legally allowed crossing point at an extension of a sidewalk located at an intersection but unpainted).

If a pedestrian crosses a roadway anywhere other than on a crosswalk, unmarked intersection, pedestrian pathway, or pedestrian bridge, they are jaywalking. Jaywalking is illegal in Connecticut as it is in most states, and jaywalkers are subject to fines.

Who is at Fault When a Car Collides With a Jaywalker?

Though state laws task drivers with the responsibility to protect pedestrians in all traffic situations since unprotected pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in a collision with a 4,000-pound vehicle, it also acknowledges that a driver doesn’t bear liability in all pedestrian accidents. If a jaywalking pedestrian darts out in front of a vehicle when the driver does not have adequate time to stop or otherwise avoid hitting the pedestrian, it isn’t the driver’s fault. That pedestrian cannot recover damages through the driver’s insurance policy, since the driver isn’t liable for the accident. Instead, the pedestrian who jaywalked must rely on their own healthcare coverage to pay for their medical treatment.

Understanding Comparative Fault in Connecticut

In Connecticut traffic accidents, each involved person’s insurance uses an adjuster to determine fault and review claims before authorizing a payout on a claim. Because the state has a modified comparative fault system, an injured person cannot recover their damages from the other party’s insurance if they were more than 51% at fault in the accident. They can only collect damages if they were less than 51% at fault and in this case, their compensation amount reflects their percentage of fault. For example, if damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering amount to $100,000 and an injury victim is found to be 25% at fault in an accident, the victim recovers $75,000. This system allows even those partly at fault in an accident to still regain some of their damages.

While it may seem that a jaywalking pedestrian is completely at fault in an accident, sometimes there are mitigating circumstances. For example, if the jaywalker thought they had plenty of time to cross but the driver was recklessly speeding and/or intoxicated or distracted, they could be found to be over 51% at fault and liable to pay damages.

If you have questions about a pedestrian accident, an experienced Connecticut pedestrian accident attorney can help with navigating Connecticut’s complex modified comparative fault system to determine liability and coverage.

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