Current California laws to allow officers to give tickets when a pedestrian crosses a street outside of a marked crosswalk and does not finish crossing by the time that countdown signal finishes. Starting January 1, 2023, these laws will no longer be in effect. These changes to the law follow 2018 legislation that relaxed the prohibition on entering an intersection to cross when the countdown timer had begun to flash.

There Have Been Disparities in How Existing Jaywalking Laws Have Been Enforced

There have been numerous complaints about inequitable enforcement of California’s jaywalking laws. Several Studies have shown a pronounced disparity in how the laws are enforced, with Blacks over four times more likely to receive a jaywalking ticket than white Californians. Certain arrests have led to protests, including an incident in September 2020 when police fatally shot a homeless Black man who was stopped for jaywalking. Other attempted arrests have resulted in the death of the person being apprehended. Many people who have been given jaywalking tickets are lower-income and cannot afford to pay them.

Jaywalking Is Largely Being Decriminalized in California

In response, the California legislature has voted to decriminalize jaywalking in the state. However, decriminalization does not mean that it is acceptable to jaywalk at all times. Police officers can still stop and ticket somebody who has jaywalked in an unsafe manner. If the jaywalking has caused an immediate danger of a collision, the police officer can still issue a citation. Police will continue to have some discretion in enforcing the statute, with the ability to determine what constitutes “immediate danger of a collision.” The legislation specifically described the circumstances in which peace officers can stop pedestrians as “a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle.”

Nonetheless, there are still real issues with pedestrian safety, both in Los Angeles and throughout the state. The number of pedestrian accident fatalities has been skyrocketing, even with jaywalking laws on the books and being enforced. Much of the blame for the increase in pedestrian accident fatalities belongs to drivers who have been more distracted behind the wheel since the invention of the smartphone.

Pedestrian Accident Fatalities Are Already at a Recent High

Jaywalking laws have done little to protect pedestrians to date. It is unclear if repealing or changing many of these laws will have a material effect on an already worsening situation. Still, previous attempts to decriminalize jaywalking have been controversial, as Governor Newsom vetoed a similar law last year out of concern for the escalating rate of pedestrian fatalities. Here, there are two parts to the issue of pedestrian safety. The first part is their safety with respect to cars on the roadway. The second part is safety with regard to the arbitrary enforcement of laws. It should be noted that many pedestrian advocates supported the law that decriminalizes jaywalking.

Insurance Companies Often Blame Pedestrians for Their Own Accidents

The issue of jaywalking is critically important in any pedestrian accident case. In general, jaywalking laws have been a creation of the auto industry that go as far back as the 1930s. Car companies saw the escalating rate of pedestrian accident injuries and wanted to find a way to shift the burden to the pedestrians themselves. Thus, practically every state and locality passed some type of law that criminalized the manner in which pedestrians cross the street. When a citation was issued, it gave drivers another way to defend themselves if they were sued for the accident.

Before an accident victim can be financially compensated for their injuries, the percentage of fault between the driver and the pedestrian must be apportioned. The insurance company will obviously argue that the pedestrian was at fault for the accident because they crossed the road where they did not necessarily have the right of way.

Jaywalking Can Still Reduce the Amount of Financial Recovery

If a pedestrian has jaywalked, it is a sign of some of their own blame for the accident. However, California law does not completely prevent people from being paid for their own personal injuries when they bear some of the blame for the accident. Under state law, you are still able to receive a settlement check so long as you are less than 100% to blame for the pedestrian accident. Your check would be reduced by the amount that you were to blame for the accident.

Still, insurance companies will seek to blame pedestrians for their own actions regardless of whether a ticket was issued. Many pedestrian accident cases become a situation where the pedestrian needs to defend themselves as much as they try to prove that the driver was at fault for the accident.

An experienced attorney would need to tell your side of the story and fend off allegations from insurance companies that are trying to reduce the amount of money that they pay you. It does not matter how badly you have been hurt. If the insurance company sees an avenue toward saving itself some money, they will not hesitate to point the finger at you. If you cannot ward off these allegations, you may not get compensation at all, or the amount that you get could be significantly reduced.

Contact a Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today

The attorneys at the Arshakyan Law Firm help injured pedestrians and their families when they have been hurt by a driver’s carelessness. We will investigate the circumstances of your accident, and we will gather the evidence that shows that someone else was to blame for your injuries. At the same time, we will fight back when the insurance company tries to take advantage of you in a potential settlement. Your first step is to call us to schedule your free initial consultation. You can send us a message here, or you can call us at (888) 851-5005 to speak with an attorney about your case.