JAYWALKING IS NOT ILLEGAL IN GEORGIA
Hello, and welcome back to our ongoing series on Georgia’s rules of the road, and how they can help establish civil liability through a concept called negligence per se.
Simply put, negligence per se is negligence born of rule-breaking. If someone doesn’t break any rules but somehow hurts someone else anyway, that person is only liable for the damage if a court finds that their behavior was so obviously irresponsible or malicious that a “reasonable person” would never do it. Needless to say, different people have different ideas about what constitutes reasonableness. However, if someone hurts someone else in the course of breaking a safety rule, like one of the many rules of the road, that person is automatically liable. That’s negligence per se.
Last week, we talked about statute 40-6-91, which lays out the rules governing pedestrians crossing at crosswalks. This week, we’ll talk about 40-6-92, which concerns pedestrians crossing outside of crosswalks.
Can Pedestrians Cross Outside of Crosswalks?
In most cases, yes.
As mentioned last week, crosswalks can be either marked or unmarked. Any time a sidewalk ends at a four-way intersection and then picks up where it left off on the other side, the area of road connecting these two stretches of sidewalk qualifies as a crosswalk, even if there are no markings. In all other situations, crosswalks must be marked.
Marked and unmarked crosswalks are usually the safest places to cross roadways, but pedestrians are not limited to crossing only in designated spots. In Georgia, pedestrians may cross almost anywhere they wish, but outside of crosswalks, they must yield to vehicular traffic.
(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any 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 unless he has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway.
Pedestrian bridges and tunnels can also provide a safer way across busy roadways, but just like crosswalks, pedestrians are not required to use them.
(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway if he uses the roadway instead of such tunnel or crossing.
Pedestrians who are determined to cross the road without using a bridge, tunnel, or crosswalk simply have to take extra care and wait for an adequate gap between vehicles before starting across.
Is It Ever Illegal to Cross the Street?
Yes, sometimes. If two adjacent intersections both have traffic lights, pedestrians are not allowed to cross the stretch of road between them.
(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
This is because pedestrians crossing between two light-controlled intersections are never more than a block away from a safe crosswalk they could use instead. Plus, areas with closely clustered traffic lights typically have high vehicular traffic, making crossing the road in the middle especially dangerous.
Pedestrians are also forbidden from crossing intersections diagonally, unless given permission by a traffic control signal.
(d) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices. When authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.
At most intersections, there is never a safe time to cross diagonally, because vehicles coming from one direction or another will always have a green light, giving them the go-ahead to cross a pedestrian’s diagonal path. Only intersections with a light sequence that includes a pedestrians-only crossing time are able to accommodate diagonal crossing.
What Responsibility Do Drivers Have Toward Pedestrians Outside of a Crosswalk?
First and foremost, drivers always have a duty to avoid and minimize accidents to the best of their abilities. When making their calculations about when and where to cross, pedestrians are not supposed to expect drivers to brake for them outside of crosswalks. However, if a driver sees a pedestrian crossing in front of them, that driver must avoid hitting the pedestrian if at all possible, no matter how careless the pedestrian’s actions.
Drivers must also be aware that, once a pedestrian has entered a roadway with a reasonable expectation of safety, even outside of a crosswalk, that pedestrian has right of way until reaching the other side.
For example, suppose a pedestrian looks both ways, finds no vehicles within sight, and steps into the road. Then, a driver turns onto the road from a side street and finds the pedestrian in the way. The driver in this scenario is required to wait for the pedestrian to pass, and if an accident should happen, the pedestrian would not be at fault.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Pedestrian-Related Accident?
If a pedestrian crosses the street diagonally, between a pair of light-controlled intersections, or in the obvious path of a car, that pedestrian is at fault for any resulting accidents and liable under negligence per se. If, on the other hand, a driver hits a pedestrian out of indifference or malice, or refuses to yield after the pedestrian has entered the roadway safely, it is the driver who is negligent. In either case, the Wetherington Law Firm can help you win fair compensation for your injuries and other losses. The settlement you’ll be eligible for will be divided into special damages and general damages, which we’ll explain below.
Special Damages are Specific, Calculable Losses
If you can quote a number to cover your loss, based on more than gut feeling, you’re probably looking at special damages. Things like doctor’s bills, a new vehicle, or the rent money you didn’t get the chance to earn while on medical leave from work, these are all financial consequences of an accident. Without fair compensation, they can quickly add up to an insurmountable burden of debt. To get your losses covered, you’ll need to document each expense and prove that it was directly or proximately caused by the at-fault individual’s negligence. The Wetherington Law Firm can help you with that. To learn more about proving direct or proximate cause, click here.
General Damages Are Far-Reaching and Incalculable
An accident is hard on more than just your finances. During your recovery, you’ll probably have to miss out on things you’d prefer to be spending your time on. You might be in significant pain, or suffering from PTSD and other effects of psychological trauma. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might never be able to return to some of the activities you love, or to a career that gave you purpose. These are the kinds of losses that general damages are intended to account for. While no amount of money can ever make up for these kinds of losses, it’s important to acknowledge them and ensure that survivors are free to heal in comfort and security. General damages are the best way we have of doing that. Talking about putting a price on your pain can be difficult, but the Wetherington Law Firm will advocate for you to make sure you get the best settlement possible.
What If Someone Died in the Crash?
If you’re looking into legal representation after losing a loved on in a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident, you have our deepest sympathies. We at the Wetherington Law Firm proudly represent wrongful death cases, but the rules are a little different than those for personal injuries. To learn more, click here.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
It takes many years of education and practice to learn how to navigate the ins and outs of litigation. Every case is a minefield of potential mistakes that can ruin an innocent victim’s chances at a fair settlement, and many of them are unintuitive and hard to spot. No one should ever have to face legal proceedings without the necessary expertise on their team, especially not when their opponent is able to employ experts for the sole purpose of tearing apart legitimate cases, as car insurance companies do. When the future well-being of your family rests on the outcome of your case, it’s time to reach out for help. The Wetherington Law Firm will walk you through every step and make sure you reap the benefits of professional strategy and know-how.
How to Hire the Best Car Wreck Lawyers in Atlanta
The Wetherington Law Firm exists to make sure everyday survivors are treated fairly and not steamrolled by rich companies. We wouldn’t be able to do that if money were a barrier to working with us.
You don’t need to scrounge together a single spare penny to hire us. Forget about trying to work us into a budget that’s already been stretched to breaking by your accident. We work on contingency, which means we don’t accept payment until we get you your settlement.
To get started talking to one of our attorneys about the details of your case today, just call 404-888-4444, or send us an email through the contact form on the right.
The Wetherington Law Firm Can Help You Bring About the Change You’ve Been Dreaming Of
Once you become our client, getting you the compensation you deserve is our first priority. But what if you don’t just want compensation? What if what you’re really looking for is some kind of assurance that the same thing won’t just happen again to someone else? We can help with that too. We’ll keep investigating until we piece together all the factors that contributed to your accident, whether it was poor road design, commercial vehicles misusing public streets, or something else. With your permission, we’ll then advocate for solutions that will keep your community safer, even if it means more work for a smaller monetary payoff. There’s nothing more important to us than using the law to make the word a better place, so as far as you want to go in that effort, we’re behind you. To learn about the clients we’ve already helped in their crusades for positive change, give us a call today!