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Can I Receive Compensation If I Was Jaywalking?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on April 8, 2020

Although jaywalking is illegal in Washington state, it is a fairly common practice. Pedestrians may assume that they have the right-of-way, think the fastest route is cutting across a major road rather than heading to a cross-walk, or think the road is empty. However, tragedy often strikes when we least expect it, and jaywalkers are often struck by vehicles. If you were jaywalking at the time you were injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be wondering how it will affect your compensation.

Seattle Jaywalking Laws

The city of Seattle obeys all jaywalking laws required by the state of Washington, which include:

  • Pedestrians must obey traffic signals, unless otherwise directed by a police or traffic officer.
  • Pedestrians must use sidewalks if they are available. If sidewalks are not available, they must walk on the left side of the road or on the shoulder, facing oncoming traffic.
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists are prohibited from moving suddenly into traffic, so the driver cannot stop.
  • Drivers must stop for pedestrians and bicyclists at intersections and allow them to cross the road within marked or unmarked crosswalks.
  • Any pedestrian crossing a road at any point other than a crosswalk at an intersection must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

When a pedestrian violates these laws, they not only face traffic fines, but also put themselves and others at risk for injury. A car may strike them or, in swerving to avoid a jaywalker, strike another car, bicycle, motorcycle, or pedestrian. Jaywalking can lead to serious injuries or even death, and also impact the amount of compensation you can receive in a pedestrian accident.

Jaywalking and Comparative Negligence

The state of Washington evaluates each personal injury case based on comparative negligence. When an accident occurs, courts distribute a percentage of fault among everyone who was involved. Any individual found to be more than 50% at-fault are ineligible from recovering compensation. For jaywalkers, this means that you could potentially receive a percentage of fault if you were struck but a driver. However, this does not mean you cannot receive any compensation, just that it may be more difficult to receive full compensation.

For example, if the driver who hit you is assigned 60% of the fault for the crash and you are assigned 40% for jaywalking, and your damages total $100,000, they will be reduced by 40% to $60,000. But, if the driver was grossly negligent, meaning they were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, were distracted, or violated traffic laws, they can be found 100% at fault. The bottom line is, if you have been hit by a motor vehicle while jaywalking, don’t assume that you have no claim for compensation. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to find out if you have a case.

Filing a Claim in a Pedestrian Accident

You may be hesitant to file a claim if you were jaywalking, worrying that you may be assigned most or all of the blame. But you may not have the full picture of what occurred. The other driver may have been drinking and driving, texting, or even been swerving to avoid another accident. If you have been struck by a driver and suspect that it was their fault, contact the Seattle pedestrian accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S.

Our legal team can conduct a full review of your case, investigating surveillance footage, driving records, and other circumstances that led to your injuries. Even if you were jaywalking, we can work to minimize your liability and maximize the amount of compensation available to you. Call us at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to schedule a free consultation.

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