When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, liability can turn on whether the pedestrian was in a legal crosswalk. This determination can be tricky because, according to the California Vehicle Code, not all legal crosswalks are marked. What might appear to the casual observer as jaywalking because the pedestrian crossed outside of a marked crosswalk, may indeed be a legal crossing of the street. Consider the two panels of figures below. The top panel of three figures shows legal crossing locations in green and illegal crossings in red. The bottom panel of figures shows the unmarked crosswalks at each intersection with dashed green lines.
Pedestrians can often cross at any unmarked location they perceive is appropriate as long as they do so without creating unsafe conflicts or violating the right-of-way provisions contained in the California Vehicle Code. Moreover, pedestrians need not cross in a marked crosswalk except under very specific circumstances – between two immediately adjacent traffic signal controlled crossings.
The California Vehicle Code (or similar codes in other jurisdictions) can be difficult to interpret, particularly along complex stretches of road. If you have any questions about your specific case, consider reading the full article, Jaywalking & The Elusive Unmarked Crosswalk published in The Verdict magazine or contact Matthew Manjarrez directly.