Perhaps by now you’ve heard the story about the 13-year old girl who was involved in an auto-pedestrian accident in Las Vegas back on January 4. Takara Davis was struck by a car while trying to cross Durango Drive where it intersects with Rochelle Street and wound up in a medically-induced coma. But the part of the story which garnered citywide (and international) attention was the fact that the girl was issued a jaywalking ticket – which was delivered to her mother at University Medical Center, where Takara is fighting for her life.
There are many aspects of this incident that are prompting discussion. Of course, the most notable one is the appropriateness and sensitivity (or lack thereof) of the officer who issued the citation. But due to the nature of this blog, I’m going to focus on the auto-pedestrian accident itself.
According to police, Takara was not in a crosswalk when the accident happened. However, there are no marked crosswalks at the intersection of Durango and Rochelle. So the crosswalk issue should not affect any potential jaywalking charge.
There are conflicting reports about the actions of the car which struck Takara. Police say that the driver braked and tried to swerve to miss the girl, but her friends who witnessed the accident claim that the driver sped up in an attempt to miss her. This detail may have an effect on the outcome of a potential personal injury lawsuit.
Finally, some may be asking: why cite the teen for jaywalking at all? Isn’t her fate punishment enough? Didn’t she learn her lesson better than anything that the criminal justice system could do to her?
While that may be true, it’s not the only function of such a citation. A jaywalking ticket implies that the girl was at fault in the incident – which has huge ramifications in any personal injury lawsuit. Because if the driver were to be held primarily or completely responsible for the auto-pedestrian collision, he or she would likely be ordered to pay a much larger monetary award to the girl’s family. However, the jaywalking citation, coupled with the fact that the driver was not cited by police at all, largely absolves the driver from blame for the auto-pedestrian accident (though perhaps not completely).
It remains to be seen how this all plays out, but it is important to remember that criminal citations are more than just deterrents on punishments – they can affect civil cases as well.