When Cars Hit Pedestrians Outside of The Crosswalk

In California, car accident law often boils down to theories of negligence. At times, the negligent party is suggested by the facts. For instance, when a car hits a pedestrian who is using a crosswalk and causes injury, more likely than not the car driver was negligent to some degree. But who is negligent when a car hits a jaywalker or pedestrian outside of a crosswalk?

Pedestrian Crossing Outside Crosswalk

Pedestrians who do not use a crosswalk are required to yield the right-of-way to nearby motorists. They must also look for approaching and oncoming vehicles. Failure to observe these may lead to a finding of negligence for the pedestrian.

It is not necessarily illegal to cross the street without using a crosswalk. It cannot be used as a defense by a driver against an injured pedestrian plaintiff.

The presence of negligence on the pedestrian’s actions will not prevent them from claiming damages later on. The concept of comparative negligence under the law states that when both parties are negligent, the amount of damages that can be claimed will only be reduced.


There is a presumption of negligence if a pedestrian jaywalks and there is an ordinance prohibiting it. The following requisites must exist for this presumption to arise:

  • Jaywalking continues to the moment of impact
  • It results in an injury that would not have occurred if the pedestrian had not disregarded the ordinance.

Pedestrian Walking Along Highway or Roadway

A pedestrian must walk close to the left-hand edge of the roadway if outside a business or residence district. However, the law now also allows pedestrians to walk close to the right-hand edge of the road. The latter is permitted if there is no crosswalk available.

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