The most debated topics regarding the roads usually involve determining who’s to blame. Here are the laws regarding jaywalkers and accidents.
When a motorist collides with a pedestrian in Florida, the driver of the vehicle is nearly always held at fault and liable to pay damages, such as the medical expenses, to the person hit. However, what happens when a motorist hits a pedestrian who’s crossing the street illegally? To determine who’s at fault you need to first look at Florida jaywalking laws.
Florida Statute 316.130 lays out the rules of how pedestrians can cross roads of traffic. In general, a pedestrian is supposed to yield the right-of-way to all vehicles unless they are in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. When a pedestrian crosses the street in an area between two adjacent intersections where signals or crosswalks are provided instead of in the crosswalk, this is considered jaywalking. Jaywalking is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction in Florida, but may impact whether or not a person can receive damages from a motorist if struck while crossing the street.
If you’re hit while jaywalking, you are partly at fault as you were breaking the law as you were hit. However, this does not mean you can’t place liability on the driver, as they may also be partially at fault depending on the circumstances. This is where the court system uses comparative fault to determine an award in a case. For example, if the driver had plenty of time to stop before hitting a jaywalker, a percentage of the fault may be placed on them. Also, if the driver was impaired, such as with driving under the influence, or distracted, such as texting while driving, a higher percentage of fault may be placed on the driver as well. It is up to the court to determine what percentage each party was at fault and then modify the award accordingly.
Regardless of who is at-fault in a motorist versus pedestrian collision, it’s the responsibility of everyone on the road to be aware of their surroundings. Please follow the law to avoid potentially serious accidents. Avoid distracted driving or walking, especially in areas shared by both heavy motor and foot traffic. Also, whenever possible use the provided crosswalks to avoid accidents.