Pedestrians in California no longer have to worry about getting ticketed for crossing outside a formal intersection—as long as there is no “immediate danger of a collision.” Under the Freedom to Walk Act, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed late last month, jaywalking has been decriminalized across the state.
The new law states that officers can only ticket pedestrians for jaywalking if doing so posed the risk of a motor-vehicle collision. Written by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco, the act will go into effect on January 1.
Newsom vetoed a similar bill that Ting proposed in a prior legislative session for fear that it would hinder pedestrian safety. The majority of people who die in pedestrian accidents are jaywalking at the time.
Newsom eventually decided the amendment was necessary, however, because the old law provided a minor offense for which officers could use as a pretext to stop people of color. He said the unequal enforcement of ticketing people of color for jaywalking was unacceptable and had to be addressed.
How Might the Freedom to Walk Act Affect Pedestrian Accident Claims?
When on foot, you should always approach moving traffic with care. As long as you abide by the rules of the road—or at least avoid jaywalking when it poses immediate danger—it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll be safe. And if you do end up getting hit despite exercising caution, you likely have grounds for legal action.
The new law could make it harder, however, for pedestrians to secure the compensation they deserve. If the victim crossed outside a formal intersection, for example, and the motorist who hit him or her can make the case that doing so was unsafe given the traffic conditions at the time, the pedestrian may be deemed liable for the accident. In addition to losing the opportunity to file a claim, he or she might be ticketed for violating the law.
If walking is your preferred mode of transportation, though, there’s no reason to stress once the new law goes into effect as long as you make an active effort to stay safe. Whenever possible, cross at clearly marked intersections, and wait until you have the right of way to do so. Additionally, when you have no choice but to jaywalk, scan your surroundings carefully, and do not step out onto the street until doing so does not pose the risk of a collision from either direction.
Speak with a Long Beach Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
The Law Office of Michael D. Waks has been advocating for injured pedestrians for more than 30 years. If you were struck by a distracted driver while on foot, you deserve justice, and attorney Waks will help you seek it.
If you turn to our firm for strategic counsel, you can be sure attorney Waks will handle your claim personally and will keep you advised of its progress every step of the way. To schedule a free initial consultation with a pedestrian accident lawyer in Long Beach, call (562) 206-1939 or submit our Contact Form.
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