Matthew Minner | August 13, 2021 | Kentucky Law
Pedestrians are quite vulnerable when compared to motorists. Unlike motorists, a pedestrian isn’t protected by the metal frame of a car or vehicle. Accordingly, if a pedestrian is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, their chances of being seriously injured are relatively high.
This is why Kentucky has laws regarding when motorists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. However, pedestrians must also obey the law to protect themselves and others. For example, in Kentucky, a pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing the road at a spot without a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
Failure to obey laws and general rules when crossing the street as a pedestrian is known as “jay-walking.” For example, you may be guilty of jay-walking if you cross a street outside of a crosswalk. You can also be found guilty of jay-walking if you ignore a “stop” signal at a crosswalk. If a police officer spots you jay-walking, they could give you a ticket.
However, jay-walking laws exist to minimize the chances of accidents between cars and pedestrians. Therefore, you might wonder whether you can get a ticket for jay-walking if no cars are around.
This is a complex topic. Jay-walking does not have a universal legal definition. What constitutes jay-walking in one state may not necessarily qualify as jay-walking in another.
In general, there are instances when a police officer may issue you a ticket for jay-walking, even when cars aren’t around. This overview will explain why.
Jay-Walking When Cars Aren’t Around: What Kentuckians Need to Know
There are several reasons you may receive a ticket for jay-walking — even if there are no cars present when you cross the street. Consider the following example.
You’re at a crosswalk, but the traffic signal on the other side of the street isn’t green yet. You cross anyway because there are no cars in sight. An officer who sees you may decide to give you a ticket.
You might think this citation is unjustified. However, suppose a speeding driver wasn’t in sight when you decided to cross. If you’re crossing the road illegally, they might be unable to stop in time to prevent an accident.
This hypothetical highlights why officers can issue you a citation for jay-walking even if there are no cars around. On the one hand, crossing the street before you have the right of way is unlawful. On the other hand, it exposes you and other unseen drivers to accidents.
That the driver was speeding means they might be at least partially to blame for the accident. Still, your choice to jay-walk also played a role in the accident. This scenario illustrates a legal concept called “comparative fault.”
Jay-walking and Comparative Fault
You might file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation for your medical bills and losses after the speeding driver hit you at the crosswalk.
The fact that you were jay-walking when the accident occurred might limit the amount of compensation you receive. Kentucky has a comparative negligence statute to deal with accidents with multiple blameworthy parties. An injury victim can recover damages even if they contributed to their accident. However, a court, jury, or insurance company could reduce the victim’s damages to account for their share of fault.
For example, suppose you have $100,000 in damages after your pedestrian accident but are found 30% responsible for your injuries for crossing the street unlawfully. In this case, you could only recover $70,000 of your damages (70%).
Therefore, there can be penalties for jay-walking even when cars aren’t around. Sometimes those penalties are minimal, such as tickets. Other times, those penalties can impact the amount of compensation you may receive from an accident.