You were walking to work, school, the corner market or just for pleasure – and your trip down the street turned into an absolute nightmare when you were hit while crossing the street by a driver who just wasn’t paying enough attention.
Now, your medical bills are piling up and the driver’s insurance company is hesitating to pay. The adjuster seems to be making a big deal over the fact that you were not using a marked crosswalk. They’re implying that the accident was really your fault and that the driver is less to blame because you “shouldn’t have been in that part of the road.”
Are they right? Not at all. Here’s what’s happening and what you need to know:
Using an unmarked crosswalk is not the same as jaywalking
“Jaywalking,” or crossing the street where there’s no crosswalk at all is, in fact, illegal. Pedestrians are not supposed to do it for safety reasons. If they do jaywalk, they’re supposed to yield to any passing motor vehicles. (This still does not give drivers the right to hit you.)
However, using an unmarked crosswalk, which differs from a marked crosswalk only in that there are neither painted lines running from curb to curb nor traffic signals designed to tell pedestrians when it’s safe to cross, is not the same thing. In Washington, you have the legal right to cross at any intersection, marked or unmarked, and drivers must both watch for pedestrians and stop to let them pass.
The insurance company’s adjuster knows this – or should know this. More than likely, they’re purposefully trying to confuse the issue in hopes that you will think that their position is reasonable and accept less than you deserve for your injuries.
Washington, like many other states, uses a type of contributory negligence rule that assigns each party responsible for whatever damages they caused. Even though that won’t stop you from obtaining compensation for the accident entirely, accepting partial responsibility for your injuries will allow the insurance company to reduce what it pays.
This is just one of many tricks that insurance companies use to protect their bottom line – and you owe it to yourself to protect yours just as fiercely.