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Home > Jaywalking: illegal or legal in Pennsylvania?

Jaywalking: illegal or legal in Pennsylvania?

Crossing street

Most refer to jaywalking as illegally crossing a street. The state of Pennsylvania doesn’t officially use the term ‘jaywalking,’ but does enforce pedestrian safety laws that cover illegally crossing a street and more. Violations could result in citations.

Types of Pedestrian Violations: Traffic Signals

According to state law, pedestrians must obey all traffic control signals. If the signals are located on a highway, it is illegal to cross the roadway against a stop signal. However, if the pedestrian starts to cross with a ‘go’ signal, all vehicles must yield the right-of-way until the pedestrian reaches the opposite side.

Types of Pedestrian Violations: Crosswalks

Another violation is when a pedestrian crosses a roadway at an intersection anywhere other than the crosswalk. Whenever a marked or unmarked crosswalk is available, the pedestrian must use it. Also, if crossing a roadway that isn’t controlled by traffic signals and there isn’t a crosswalk, the pedestrian shall cross at a right angle to the roadway: pedestrians may not cross the intersection diagonally.

Types of Pedestrian Violations: Right-of-Way

Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicles if crossing the street outside of a crosswalk as well as where there is an available overhead pedestrian crossing or tunnel. It is also illegal for a pedestrian to suddenly leave the curb or any other point of safety and enter the path of a vehicle where it would be impossible for the driver to yield.

How Pedestrian Laws Affect Fault in an Accident

Pedestrian accidents that involve vehicles are not always the driver’s fault. One of the first things that has to be determined is which party acted negligently. If the pedestrian violated traffic laws—such as crossing the road against a signal—that person could be found entirely at fault.

However, if the pedestrian crossed illegally but the motorist had been speeding, both parties could be responsible. In this case, a degree of fault would be assigned to the pedestrian and the driver.

If the pedestrian is 50 percent at fault or less, then he or she may recover compensation, minus a percentage of damages proportional to his or her own fault. For another example, if another pedestrian was found to be 20 percent at fault and he or she suffered $10,000 in damages, the pedestrian would only recover $8,000. Any fault greater than 50 percent would prevent the pedestrian from recovering damages.

A Pedestrian’s Duty

Pedestrians have a number of duties under Pennsylvania law. The duties of a pedestrian, according to Pennsylvania Vehicle Code Subchapter C include the following listed below.

  • Obey all traffic control devices
  • Exercise care (watch where you are going)
  • Yield the right-of-way to vehicles if not crossing at a crosswalk
  • Cross at a crosswalk when traffic control signals are in operation
  • Use the sidewalk if it is available
  • Yield to emergency vehicles

If a pedestrian fails to uphold any of the above duties, or effectively ‘jaywalks,’ s/he may receive a traffic citation. What’s more, if the pedestrian’s failure to adhere to Pennsylvania code leads to a road accident—even if the pedestrian is involved in the accident—then the pedestrian may be held liable or partially liable for damages.

Rights of Pedestrians

Statute 3542 of Pennsylvania Vehicle Code states that pedestrians in crosswalks where no traffic control devices are being used have the right of way. A blind pedestrian who is carrying a white cane or is accompanied by a guide dog, always has the right of way under Pennsylvania’s traffic laws. A driver who does not yield to a pedestrian in the situations listed above is guilty of committing an offense, and may receive a citation.


What if a driver hits me while I’m ‘jaywalking?’

The courts take into account the actions of both parties in a pedestrian crash. If you were jaywalking at the time of the accident, then you may be held liable for damages. If the driver who hit you was doing something negligent or illegal too, though, then the driver may be found partially or totally at-fault.

An attorney can help you to determine your percentage of fault, and whether or not filing a claim for damages is within your best interest. All claims for damages must be filed within two years’ time in Pennsylvania (Pa. Cons. Stat. Sec. 5524). Take action immediately, especially if there were no witnesses to the pedestrian accident.


Get a Lawyer’s Help Proving Fault and Collecting Damages

Establishing fault and liability comes down to evidence, which may include:

  • eyewitness testimony;
  • photographs;
  • surveillance video; and
  • even traffic citations.

So if you were seriously injured, consult an attorney for help. An attorney will investigate the accident to learn which party’s actions were careless or reckless. The lawyer will also aid in evidence collection and organize the case to present it to the insurance company, a judge, or a jury, depending on the circumstances. The attorney will also help you establish the amount of damages you suffered as a result of the accident.

Get help from Cordisco & Saile LLC. Set up your consultation by calling 215-642-2335.

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