Left turn

I Got Hit Crossing the Street Without a Crosswalk. Is It My Fault?

Crossing the street is something many of us do every day. Pedestrians crossing the roadway are a commonplace sight in urban areas or on one-lane country roads alike.

Of course, you know it’s best if pedestrians cross the roadway at the crosswalk, but what do you do if there’s not a marked crosswalk available?

Most pedestrians simply cross the street anyway. Does the act of crossing the street at an unmarked crosswalk make it possible that, if you were hit by a moving vehicle during the act of crossing the street, you might be held responsible for the accident?

Pedestrian Crossing — Must It Be on a Marked Crosswalk?


First, what is a crosswalk? In some states, a crosswalk would connect the boundary lines of sidewalks at intersections that are approximately right angles.

Per Indiana laws, it’s “[t]hat part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs, or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway.”

In most states, it’s also defined as a part of the roadway distinctly marked for pedestrians with official traffic control devices or markings on the surface of the road.

Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are all too common. In 2021, 60,577 pedestrians were injured by vehicles in the US; there were 7,388 pedestrian deaths in the same year.

When a pedestrian is injured, whether they crossed at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, whether traffic signals were present or not, they’re often left wondering how they are going to pay their medical bills.

After all, when a pedestrian crashes into a vehicle, the resulting injuries can be truly horrifying.

Read on to learn what Indiana’s laws have to say about pedestrians versus vehicles on the roadway. Does the law protect pedestrians no matter where they cross the street?

Understanding Pedestrian and Crosswalk Laws in Indiana

Pedestrian rights are as important as the rights of drivers, but pedestrians are still subject to Indiana’s laws. Just as a driver of a vehicle must be aware of their surroundings, pedestrians are expected to exhibit care while crossing the road, especially if their crossing movements are unpredictable to motor vehicles coming their way.

While it’s true that pedestrians have the right of way at a marked crosswalk, pedestrians who fail to cross at a marked crosswalk do not have the right of way.

crossing street without crosswalk

Indiana law states, “A pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.”

The driver of a vehicle has precedence on the roadway if there’s no clearly marked crosswalk.

Obey Traffic Control Signals

Pedestrians are subject to official traffic control devices like traffic lights, a walk signal, a stop sign, or any other traffic signal.

If the special pedestrian control signals at the crosswalk at an intersection indicate that the person is permitted to cross, cars are expected to yield to them. If the words Walk or Don’t Walk are flashing, you should simply follow these instructions.

If a pedestrian crossing the street sets off before the steady “Don’t Walk” signal is given, they are permitted to continue on to the safety island in the center or continue to the other side of the road. If the steady signal appears, pedestrians shall not cross the intersection until the traffic control signals indicate it’s safe to cross.

Most intersections in urban areas have marked crosswalks for safe pedestrian crossing, complete with traffic control devices at the intersections to ensure that people only cross when they have the right of way.

Drivers Yield in Crosswalks

When drivers are faced with marked crosswalks, mid-block crosswalks, or crosswalks at intersections, they are expected to yield the right to cross the roadway to pedestrians who have a walk signal.

When pedestrians note the stopped vehicle, they know it’s perfectly legal to cross the road and can continue without concern as they have the right of way.

As soon as the driver sees the green light, they should be clear to continue as pedestrians should be safely out of the intersection. If there’s a red light, the vehicle must stop to yield the right of way to pedestrians.

Crossing When There’s No Crosswalk? Find Adjacent Intersections

If the crosswalk in the roadway is unmarked, the pedestrian is expected to yield to motor vehicles. If there’s a crosswalk at any adjacent intersections, the pedestrian is expected to cross there, rather than attempting to cross diagonally or cross mid-block. The pedestrian is never permitted to cross the roadway intersection diagonally, either.

The pedestrian should also search the road for other markings indicating that it’s safe to cross; sometimes, more rural areas don’t have traditional crosswalks, but are indicators where it’s safe to cross the roadway, like stop signs.

If there is a sidewalk available, the pedestrian should not walk on the road. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians on the roadway should stay as far from the vehicles driving on the road as possible.

Some communities invest in an overhead pedestrian crossing or a pedestrian tunnel to ensure that pedestrians are safe from dangerous traffic on the roadway.

These solutions also provide drivers with peace of mind knowing that they won’t be faced with a pedestrian who decides to suddenly leave the curb with no warning, charging into traffic. Such crossing movements are dangerous to drivers and pedestrians alike.

Indiana’s Comparative Fault Act

Of course, a driver is expected to do their best to avoid a collision with a pedestrian whenever possible, whether that pedestrian is crossing safely in an intersection or if that pedestrian is not.

Indiana’s Comparative Fault law recognizes contributory negligence. Both parties, the driver and the pedestrian, are assigned a share of fault for the accident.

The party assigned 51% or more of the damage cannot recover damages should they file a personal injury claim.

Say, for example, a pedestrian was involved in an accident. They filed a personal injury claim, suing the driver for damages. Through the course of the trial, the pedestrian was found to be 25% responsible for the accident. The jury awarded $10,000 in damages, but due to the contributory negligence laws, the pedestrian could only recoup 75% of the amount awarded— that pedestrian took home $7500.

If the pedestrian was found to be 52% responsible for the accident, they would not be eligible to receive compensation at all. In other words, they’d be responsible for footing all the medical bills that come with serious injuries.

Indiana’s laws are one of the best reasons to call the police as soon as an accident occurs; a police officer will make a report, which will help determine fault should you decide to file a personal injury claim.

Injured While Crossing A Street Without A Crosswalk? We Can Help

An accident that results in injuries is incredibly stressful, especially when you’re not entirely sure if you might be at fault.

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Crossen Law are dedicated to ensuring you get the maximum compensation after an accident. We understand Indiana’s complex pedestrian laws, and we’ll answer any questions you might have.

If you or a loved one are the victim of a pedestrian vs. motorist accident and you need legal guidance, contact us today for your free consultation. Call 317-401-8626.