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California Unmarked Crosswalk Laws

by John Gomez | Last Updated: September 9, 2022

crosswalkPedestrians always need to look out for oncoming traffic when crossing the road, whether using crosswalks or crossing somewhere else. The force of being hit by a vehicle can cause serious injury or death to the pedestrian. It’s important to understand the California unmarked crosswalk laws, so you know what you’re entitled to if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

What Is an Unmarked Crosswalk in California?

An unmarked crosswalk is not specifically marked. It isn’t painted, and it doesn’t have any lights or signs indicating that it is a crosswalk. An unmarked crosswalk is essentially any crosswalk at which there is not a “do not cross” sign posted.

These areas are particularly dangerous for pedestrians because drivers are less likely to take notice because of the lack of signage and indication. Unfortunately, many drivers break traffic laws, often rolling through stop signs or speeding through yellow or red lights. When there’s no clear indication to a driver that a pedestrian is legally permitted to cross the street, it creates a dangerous situation where drivers may not be as cautious as when they are at a marked crosswalk.

What Should You Do at an Unmarked Crosswalk in California?

Any time you’re entering an unmarked crosswalk, you should take extra precautions. It’s important to understand that drivers are probably not specifically looking for pedestrians when driving through a crosswalk that isn’t marked in the same way they are when there is proper signage and markings. Consider the following safety precautions any time you are using an unmarked crosswalk:

  • Always look both ways
  • Never cross the road if oncoming traffic is speeding toward you
  • Never assume that a vehicle is going to stop simply because you are in the unmarked crosswalk
  • Cross quickly even though in an unmarked crosswalk, right of way belongs to the pedestrian

Fault When Driver Hits Pedestrian at Unmarked Crosswalk

In California, pedestrians are legally protected when crossing the street in an unmarked crosswalk in most circumstances. Keep in mind that this does not relieve the pedestrian of their duty to use care for their own safety. A pedestrian is prohibited from leaving the curb suddenly and walking or running into the path of an oncoming vehicle that is close enough to constitute an immediate hazard — regardless of whether they’re in a crosswalk or not.

As long as the pedestrian has entered the unmarked crosswalk safely — they haven’t stepped into the way of oncoming traffic — vehicles must yield. If the pedestrian is hit by a car, it is almost always going to be the driver’s fault. In other words, the pedestrian has the unmarked crosswalk right of way.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In California, personal injury claims are governed by the law of pure comparative negligence. This is important to understand, as it states that victims can collect compensation even if they’re partially at fault for the accident that causes their injuries.

If the court deems that the victim is at fault, any monetary award the plaintiff receives will be reduced proportionately to their percentage of fault. For example, if the court awards the plaintiff $50,000 and determines that they are 40% at fault, the plaintiff will take home 60% of the award, or $30,000.

Even if a pedestrian is considered to be partially at fault for an accident that occurs in an unmarked crosswalk, California law lets them recover monetary compensation for damages they suffer as a result.

Compensation You Can Recover

If you were injured in an accident at an unmarked crosswalk, you may be entitled to recover monetary damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to the financial losses you suffered as a result of the accident, and that can be easily quantified into a monetary value.

The most common examples of economic damages include medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages are awarded due to intangible losses a plaintiff suffers, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. When it comes to marked crosswalks vs. unmarked crosswalks, you should still be entitled to a similar amount of compensation.

Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys

If you were injured in an unmarked crosswalk accident, the experienced attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys can help. We handle all types of personal injury claims and have won more than $750 million for our clients throughout our careers. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation by calling (619)-237-3490 or by contacting us online.

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