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Does the pedestrian always have the right of way?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Auto Accidents

You may have heard people say that “the pedestrian always has the right of way.” This seems to imply that any time a car hits a pedestrian, it is the driver of that car who is at fault. If the pedestrian is injured or even killed, the pedestrian or their family may be able to sue the driver.

But is this actually true? It is wise to be careful around pedestrians, understanding that they lack protection in an accident. Drivers should do everything they can to avoid vehicle-pedestrian collisions. In this sense, saying that the pedestrian always has the right of way can be beneficial. But it is not technically true.

Pedestrians have the right of way in certain situations

It all depends on the situation surrounding the accident. For instance, if a driver is turning through an intersection and there are pedestrians walking straight in the crosswalk, those pedestrians do have the right of way. Under California law, both marked and unmarked crosswalks give pedestrians this right of way. Drivers must be cautious and understand when it is their turn to go. Even if it is a driver’s turn at a four-way stop, for example, they still need to wait for a pedestrian who is crossing the road.

But that doesn’t mean that pedestrians have the right of way if they have broken the law or acted in unexpected and dangerous ways. For instance, say that someone tries to run across a busy street at midnight. They’re not even close to a crosswalk. They’re just jaywalking when they get struck by a car because the driver couldn’t see them and never expected them to be there.

Pedestrian accidents often lead to serious injuries, so those who have been hurt must know what legal steps to take.