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Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Most of us are ingrained with the idea that drivers should always yield to pedestrians. Whether the pedestrian is jaywalking or steps off the curb in the middle of a turn, we instinctively know that the driver should do whatever it takes to avoid a terrible accident.

However, if an accident does happen, can the pedestrian ever be at fault? Put another way, do pedestrians always have the right of way?

For the Most Part

Under California law, pedestrians have the right of way at any designated crosswalk or at any intersection. Even if the intersection is unmarked, drivers should stop and allow pedestrians to cross.

The best way for a pedestrian to assert themselves is to make eye contact with the driver. The California Driver’s Handbook instructs drivers to yield whenever a pedestrian makes eye contact.

Small Exceptions

Pedestrians do not always have the right of way. For example, a pedestrian may not walk across a road unless it’s at an intersection. Although a pedestrian in the road is expected to yield to traffic, cars must yield to the pedestrian. If a pedestrian refuses to step out of the road, drivers need to wait for them even though the pedestrian doesn’t have the right of way.

These laws become unclear when it comes to pedestrians stepping into traffic. California law states, “No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” This wording is vague and can make insurance claims difficult for both the pedestrian and the driver.

Because an “immediate hazard” isn’t well defined, insurance companies may argue that a pedestrian is at fault for the accident because they walked off the curb and into traffic. At the same time, a driver may say that they aren’t responsible because the pedestrian stepped off the curb.

Determining who is at fault can be extremely stressful, especially when victims need insurance to cover their damages and medical treatment. For that reason, determining fault in a pedestrian accident is best left to an experienced attorney.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a pedestrian accident, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced San Francisco auto injury attorney from Delfino Green & Green to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (415) 466-8544.

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