What if I wasn’t in a marked crosswalk when I was hit by a car?
You should really try to be in a crosswalk
In the typical automobile versus pedestrian injury traffic accident, the heaviest burden for preventing such accidents rests on the motorist and not on the pedestrian. You may have heard (or even said yourself) many times “Pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way!” Well, this is not really a totally accurate statement, especially in the pedestrian is not in a marked crosswalk. For instance, pedestrian cannot haphazardly enter a roadway without caution and just expect to be safe because they “always have the right of way.” Pedestrians must always exhibit caution when crossing roadways, and they must always cross within a crosswalk, whether marked or unmarked. That is not to say that motorists can ignore pedestrians who are jaywalking or walking not in a marked crosswalk and just run them down without facing legal responsibility. However, if a pedestrian is struck by an automobile while not in a marked crosswalk or even an unmarked crosswalk, they may be precluded from compensation for their injuries due to the unlawful crossing at the time of the accident. In short - to have the clear and legal right of way, a pedestrian should cross within a crosswalk (marked or unmarked.) In San Francisco, pedestrians typically don’t need to worry about unmarked crosswalks in the busier parts of the City, but in the more residential areas, we have a lot of unmarked crosswalks.
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Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks
That brings me to this point. There are two types of crosswalks – the obvious marked crosswalk we all know and love, and there’s also the unmarked crosswalk. What is an unmarked crosswalk you ask? California Civil Code defines a crosswalk as “that portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks at intersections where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles”. What the what? Despite using poor wording, this law explains that unmarked crosswalks are those areas where you can cross roads that meet at a right angle. Note that in order for the area to be considered an unmarked crosswalk, there cannot be a sign specifically prohibiting crossing.
For instance, if you have a two or four-way stop where two roads (bordered by sidewalks) meet at a right angle, but there are no marked crosswalks, it is assumed by law that an unmarked crosswalk exists between each of the four corners “connecting” the sidewalks. (i.e. draw a straight line from the end of the sidewalk across the street to the beginning of the sidewalk on the other side.) So, even though there may not be an obvious, in-your-face, marked crosswalk, you as a pedestrian do indeed have the right of way. This of course does not excuse you from using caution when crossing the street. In fact, when crossing at an unmarked crosswalk, you should use even more caution than normal, as motorists are often clueless about unmarked crosswalks or will proceeds with less caution themselves, because there are no obvious marked crosswalks or pedestrian warnings in the area.
If you were seriously injured while not in a marked crosswalk, it is always best to consult with a personal injury lawyer who specializes in pedestrian accident cases to better understand whether you can make a personal injury claim and whether or not you had the legal right of way. Call one of our highly qualified pedestrian accident attorneys get a FREE online case evaluation now to see if we can help.