Liability for Jaywalking in Minnesota

Jaywalking is a term that covers pedestrian traffic violations. These laws may seem frivolous at first, but they exist to safeguard Minnesota pedestrians and encourage a safe flow of traffic. As the winter makes walking more of a challenge, pedestrians should still maintain safe practices while crossing streets and roadways. When pedestrians cross streets illegally, they put themselves and others around them at risk. A driver who must suddenly swerve to avoid a jaywalking pedestrian could cause a serious accident, and in such a case, the jaywalker would be held accountable for contributing to the incident.

Types of Jaywalking

Jaywalking is a broad term that encompasses any pedestrian misconduct on the roads. A few examples include:

  • Crossing a street mid-block. Most areas require pedestrians to cross streets at designated crosswalks. Some cities clearly mark their crosswalks while others do not. The law considers unmarked crosswalks the area between two street corners.
  • Walking in the road. Many areas have laws requiring pedestrians to keep to the sidewalks if sidewalks are present. Typically, there are sidewalks in residential areas and other areas with heavy regular foot traffic. Walking in the street in these areas creates a hazard for passing drivers and might cause an accident.
  • Crossing an intersection diagonally. While there are some exceptions, for most areas, the law doesn’t permit pedestrians to cross intersections diagonally. Unless there is a specially designated diagonal crosswalk, pedestrians must cross between adjacent street corners.

Some areas have specific pedestrian crosswalks mid-block with signage that indicates to drivers that they must yield to crossing pedestrians. These crosswalks are common in urban areas or densely populated areas. In other regions, the law expects pedestrians to yield to oncoming traffic.

Penalties for Jaywalking

In most cases, if a police officer cites a citizen for jaywalking, it results in an infraction or misdemeanor. The courts handle these citations similarly to parking tickets, and fines increase with repeated jaywalking offenses. However, if the situation put others in danger, the jaywalker may face additional and more serious charges such as disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, or disturbing the peace.

Minnesota citizens should take jaywalking seriously despite its status as a minor offense. Minnesota follows a contributory negligence law, meaning that the courts may find a plaintiff partially at-fault for an incident, reducing his or her compensation by an amount proportionate to his or her percentage of fault in an incident. That means that if you are jaywalking and suffer an injury from a car driving nearby, the courts will more than likely find you partially at fault for your injuries since you failed to cross the street legally. In some cases, the court may find the jaywalker completely at fault for such an incident, and he or she will be unable to claim damages. The driver or anyone else who was injured or suffered damages in the incident would be able to sue the jaywalker.

Know Your Rights

Contrary to popular belief, jaywalking can be a serious hazard and cause property damage, severe injuries, or death. While crossing a street where it is convenient may seem simple enough to a walker, some areas are dangerous and may be a blind spot for traffic. If you have been cited for jaywalking, it is a good idea to take the citation seriously and refrain from future jaywalking. If you contributed to an accident, or a jaywalker caused damage to your vehicle or person, consult with an attorney.

Contributory negligence laws can complicate personal injury lawsuits, so you’ll want to have a reliable and experienced attorney in any jaywalking-related case. This offense may seem innocuous, but jaywalkers can be held accountable if their actions cause injury or damages to others.