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Pedestrian Accidents and California Laws

CrosswalksSan Jose has a high rate of pedestrian fatalities in auto accidents. Pedestrians are extremely vulnerable in car accidents, as they lack the safety equipment and protective walls of an automobile. California and San Jose have laws to protect pedestrians from injuries resulting from auto collisions.


The San Jose municipal code includes several regulations governing the use of crosswalks in the city. The city is required to establish and maintain crosswalks at intersections and other appropriate places when there is a danger to pedestrians attempting to cross the roadway.

There are also regulations governing pedestrian behavior in crosswalks. Pedestrians may not stand in the roadway, except at a safety zone or crosswalk, if doing so interferes with traffic.They are required to use crosswalk in business districts, except where a pedestrian scramble crossing system is in effect.

While using crosswalks, pedestrians must move on the right side of the crosswalk when possible. When a pedestrian crosses the road where there is no crosswalk or pedestrian scramble system, he or she must cross roadway at a right angle to the curb.

San Jose allows those who are blind or crippled to obtain a permit to use a cane with a stop sign. When a pedestrian using such a cane is in the crosswalk, vehicles are required to stop for him or her.

Jaywalking and Rights-of-Way

In California, jaywalking is prohibited. If a pedestrian is crossing a street other than at either a marked or an unmarked crosswalk, he or she must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic that is close enough to be dangerous.

However, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are already in crosswalks or crossing at intersections and must use due care, including scanning for pedestrians and slowing their vehicles, to protect pedestrians’ safety. Pedestrians are also required to use due care. They must not dart out on front of traffic or unnecessarily delay traffic while in a crosswalk.

Negligence per se

If an injured pedestrian can show that a driver violated a statute or regulation meant to protect against the type of injury suffered, he or she can use that violation as negligence per se in a personal injury suit. For example, if a driver does not yield to a pedestrian who is already in a crosswalk and hits and injures the pedestrian, the pedestrian can use that violation as a rebuttable presumption that the driver was negligent in causing the pedestrian’s injuries.

But if the victim an accident was violating a statute, for example, by jaywalking, the driver can also use that violation as negligence per se for comparative fault. Comparative fault means that a negligent victim’s recovery will be reduced proportional to his or her level of fault. Thus if, for example, a pedestrian accident victim jaywalked and was hit by a speeding oncoming car, and the jury decides that the pedestrian was 30 percent at fault, the victim would only recover 70 percent of the total damages for his or her injuries.

If you have been injured in an auto accident in San Jose, please call the dedicated San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free initial consultation.

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