what happens if you hit a pedestrian jaywalking

Who is At Fault if a Pedestrian is Hit While Jaywalking?

When a 2-ton metal vehicle meets a pedestrian, the pedestrian always loses. At a minimum, they’re facing serious injuries, trauma, and sky-high medical expenses.

For the driver, it’s no picnic either. Beyond feeling guilty for hurting someone, they’ll see their insurance skyrocket. Legal and medical bills can pile up fast. They might even face jail time or a lawsuit.

But what happens if the pedestrian contributed to the accident? What if they were jaywalking — can they be held liable for the accident? It depends.

West Virginia follows a comparative negligence rule, meaning if a party is found 51% or more liable for an accident, they are barred from seeking compensation.

But, proving liability without a lawyer can be an uphill battle.

To help you navigate the aftermath, here’s everything you need to know about what happens if you hit a jaywalker.

Jaywalking Violates the “Rules of the Road” for Pedestrians

WV Code 17C-10-3 prohibits pedestrians from crossing streets outside of marked or unmarked crosswalks. This includes suddenly stepping off a curb into oncoming traffic. Jaywalking also covers crossing at intersections if there’s a specific pedestrian tunnel or bridge provided.

So, by deciding to ignore the closest crosswalk and cut across lanes of traffic, you violated the “rules of the road” for pedestrians.

Now, keep in mind – just because you broke a traffic law as a pedestrian does NOT automatically make you fully responsible if a car hits you while jaywalking. Fault and liability are often split between both parties in the form of comparative negligence. The degree of responsibility gets weighed based on circumstances like speed, visibility, driver effort to brake, etc.

Your Injuries Still Warrant Compensation

The fact that you were jaywalking does not excuse the driver from compensating you for any injuries suffered. Their negligence contributed to the collision as well, especially if they were speeding or not paying attention.

West Virginia follows the “comparative fault” rule in vehicle/pedestrian crashes, meaning multiple people can share liability. Both the jaywalking pedestrian and the driver who hit them often hold some degree of fault. Your compensation gets reduced based on your percentage of blame but isn’t erased.

For example, the court may find you 25% liable for negligently crossing outside the crosswalk, but the driver is 75% liable for going well over the speed limit. Your accident claim payout or settlement would decrease by 25% to account for your comparative fault. But luckily, you still recover 75% of the damages you deserve.

Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident

Determining responsibility after a driver hits a pedestrian can be complicated. There are a lot of factors at play.

Lawyers and insurance reps will look at where it happened. If someone was hit jaywalking in the middle of the road rather than at a crosswalk, it starts to point more toward them being at fault. But drivers still have to be vigilant and yield when turning, even if someone’s not in a crosswalk.

Visibility is important, too. If bad weather or poor lighting meant the driver couldn’t see the pedestrian clearly, they may share less blame. However, drivers are still expected to adjust their driving if visibility is bad. Additionally, distractions like cell phones are a sign someone wasn’t paying enough attention to pedestrians and drivers alike.

Investigators dig into the specifics of the accident to paint a picture of what happened and who failed to act responsibly. Ultimately, they need to prove that either party or both acted negligently, resulting in the accident.

At Miley Legal, our pedestrian accident attorneys dig into all the subtleties surrounding the collision to determine fault. Was the pedestrian crossing on a busy highway known for speeding traffic? Was it nighttime and difficult to see them? Did the driver have time to react but fail to brake?

Addressing these factors allows us to build the strongest argument in negotiating a fair settlement.

Civil and Criminal Penalties for Hitting a Pedestrian

Beyond the immense guilt and other emotional impacts of hitting a pedestrian, drivers also face potential legal and financial consequences. These come in both civil and criminal forms.

On the civil side, the injured pedestrian may file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation from the driver for their damages. Common damages claimed include current and future medical bills, lost income and benefits, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life. If the driver is found primarily liable, their insurance company would cover the settlement or court award.

Criminal penalties are also possible, depending on factors like the driver’s sobriety, license status, and severity of the pedestrian’s injuries.

Possible criminal charges include:

  • Reckless driving
  • DUI – Driving under the influence
  • Vehicular assault
  • Vehicular manslaughter or homicide

Punishments for criminal convictions can include fines, driver’s license suspension, community service, probation, and even jail time. Having a criminal record can also make finding employment more challenging.

The potential civil claims and criminal charges underscore the value of experienced legal guidance after an accident. An attorney can best protect their rights and interests during the investigation and through any court proceedings.

Protecting Your Rights With an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

If you were involved in a pedestrian accident in West Virginia, having a personal injury lawyer on your side could make all the difference. We know how to thoroughly investigate accident circumstances and build a compelling argument around comparative negligence principles. We aim to secure the maximum compensation to cover your damages and losses.

No matter which side you’re on, a pedestrian accident can quickly become complex. Contact us today for a free consultation with our team. We are ready to walk alongside you, offer guidance, and fight to protect your rights every step of the way.

Author Bio

Tim Miley is the Founder of Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers, a West Virginia personal injury law firm he formed in 2006. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death, and other personal injury matters.

Tim received his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University and is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association. He has helped his clients win more than $10 million in personal injury verdicts and settlements and has further served the people of West Virginia by filling legislative roles in the state’s government since 2004.

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