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What Happens If You Hit a Pedestrian Jaywalking in Indiana?


In 2017, there were 1,626 collisions on Indiana’s roads involving pedestrians. That number rose by 1.5% in 2018, for a total of 1,650.

Clearly, in any collision between a person and a vehicle, the person is going to be at a disadvantage. Even the lightest cars, like the Mitsubishi Mirage or the Scion iQ, weigh close to 2,000 pounds, and the behemoths like the Ram 3500 Crew Cab or the Ford F450 Super Duty Crew Cab weigh 6,728 and 8,600 pounds, respectively.

You may assume that because you have the safety advantage, any collision with a pedestrian is going to automatically be your fault. This isn’t necessarily true. Each accident is different, and liability really depends on the circumstances.


Pedestrians and Negligence

What happens if you hit a pedestrian jaywalking? If the pedestrian was acting in a negligent manner, he or she could be partially or completely liable for the accident. If you are driving along at night paying close attention to the road and obeying all of the traffic regulations and someone launches themselves right in front of your car, the blame lies with them.

If someone jaywalks, they are certainly partially liable. Originally, the term “jaywalk” meant that someone was crossing the road in an unsophisticated, irresponsible, or idiotic manner (a “jay” was a fool). The concept of jaywalking as an issue came into being in the 1920s when car manufacturers wanted to establish the rights of drivers and to discourage pedestrians from crossing streets wherever they pleased.


Indiana’s Pedestrian Laws

Indiana Code IC 9-21-17 has several clear cut laws that pedestrians must follow, such as:


  • When there are Walk/Don’t walk signs, pedestrians must abide by them. They are not allowed to walk when it says “Don’t Walk.” However, they are allowed to continue crossing the road if the “Don’t Walk” sign starts flashing while they are mid-cross.
  • A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
  • Between adjacent intersections at which traffic signals are in operation, pedestrians may not cross at any place except in a designated crosswalk.
  • Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.
  • If a sidewalk is provided and the sidewalk’s use is practicable, a pedestrian may not walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.
  • If neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, a pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway. If the roadway is two-way, the pedestrian shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.
  • Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.


This is just a partial list of the 24 infractions. You can read all of them here. They are all categorized as class C infractions, which in Indiana means that a person who is convicted of them could receive a maximum jail time of 60 days and/or fines of up to $500.


Driver Negligence vs. Pedestrian Negligence

Keeping all of that in mind, consider the fact that as the driver, it is your responsibility to avoid a collision with a pedestrian if at all possible, even if they are not following the rules. You could be found partially liable for the accident if you were speeding, texting, or driving under the influence of alcohol, for example.

Indiana is a modified comparative negligence state. As long as a party involved in the accident is not more than 50% at fault for the accident, they can recover compensation for any damages or injuries they suffer. The catch is that whatever compensation they receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

As you can imagine, it is difficult to determine exactly who was at fault and exactly how much they were at fault, which is why it is crucial to work with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. The insurance companies will attempt to apportion blame, but since they both have their best interests and the bottom line at heart, they are unlikely to agree. The case may end up going to a jury.


Crossen Law Firm Can Help

If you have been injured in an accident with a pedestrian who was jaywalking, contact Crossen Law Firm. Our Indianapolis pedestrian accident lawyer has decades of experience helping victims just like you obtain the compensation that they need to cover the costs involved with their injuries. Whether you have medical bills to pay, have lost wages as a result of not being able to go to work, or need money to pay for physical therapy, we can help.

Get started on your case today by scheduling a free consultation about your situation. Call 317-401-8626 or contact us online.