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What Happens if You Hit a Pedestrian Jaywalking?

It is illegal to jaywalk in Las Vegas. If someone wants to cross the street, they should go to the intersection and cross in the crosswalk. Nevertheless, countless people shoot out into the road to get across.

What happens if you end up hitting someone who was jaywalking? Are you still responsible for the accident? Or is the pedestrian responsible?

Actually, there are no simple answers to these questions, which might be surprising. Our firm regularly fields questions from the public, and most people seem to assume that the motorist is “always” to blame. Instead, under Nevada law, we need to closely analyze the circumstances to determine who is at fault.

Both Motorists and Pedestrians Owe a Duty of Care

Fault is determined under the principles of negligence, which is the legal term for failing to use sufficient care. Both motorists and pedestrians owe each other a duty to be careful, which really means they owe a duty not to cause an accident that ends up injuring someone.

If your carelessness causes injury, then you are “at fault” for the accident. This is important because, under Nevada law, the party at fault must pay compensation to the victims.

So it’s wrong to say that the driver of a vehicle is “always” at fault, because the pedestrian also owes the driver a duty to act carefully.

Both Motorists and Pedestrians Can Be Negligent

Both motorists and pedestrians owe each other a duty to be careful. And when they break that duty, they have breached it and been negligent. Nevada has many traffic safety rules that are important to analyzing negligence. But there are two things you need to know:

  • Breaking the law does not make you automatically negligent
  • Someone can be negligent without breaking the law

Instead, we need to ask, “How would a reasonably careful person have acted in the same situation?” If a driver or pedestrian’s conduct falls below this standard, then they can be liable for any collision they cause.

How Motorists Can Be Negligent

Passenger vehicles are a clear danger to pedestrians, so drivers need to operate their motor vehicle in a safe manner. Unfortunately, too many drivers end up:

  • Drive too fast for conditions
  • Run a red light
  • Fail to stop at a stop sign
  • Drive while distracted
  • Pass on the shoulder
  • Drive while intoxicated
  • Illegally pass
  • Fail to yield to pedestrians

When a motorist engages in any of these behaviors and hits a pedestrian, they are usually at fault.

A Pedestrian Who Jaywalks is also Probably Negligent

Nevada’s statute § 484B.287 lays out certain rules for a pedestrian to follow with respect to yielding the right of way. For example, the law clearly states that a pedestrian who crosses a highway at any point other than a crosswalk at the intersection must yield the right of way to vehicles on the road.

There is rarely a good reason to jaywalk. It certainly is risky behavior, and a pedestrian needs to exercise caution before crossing the road.

Of course, breaking the law is not definitive proof that the pedestrian has been negligent, but it is very compelling evidence. If you are a pedestrian involved in an accident, you need to come forward with a legitimate reason why it was not dangerous to jaywalk in that particular situation.