Unmarked Crosswalks and Pedestrian Accidents


Jan Reburiano

You may have to cross an unmarked crosswalk to arrive at your destination, and in most states, you have the right-of-way. Even so, there are scenarios when you’re partially at-fault during a pedestrian accident at an unmarked crosswalk.

Both drivers and pedestrians share a duty of care to maintain safety on the road. Unmarked crosswalks are no exception, and even pedestrians may be held responsible if they act negligently and cause an accident. Find out how to avoid liability and maximize your personal injury settlement with this guide.

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What is an Unmarked Crosswalk?

Most states define a crosswalk as the connection between two sidewalks where an intersection meets at approximately right angles. If there are no curbs, a crosswalk is measured by the edges of the roadway. There are no lines, signs, or lights to indicate an unmarked crosswalk.

California law CVC VEH § 275 (b) does not consider walkways with a “No Crossing” sign as crosswalks. Pennsylvania law considers areas at an intersection with lines or signs indicating pedestrian activity as crosswalks. Each state has different definitions of an unmarked crosswalk, and these are only a few examples.

(10) “Crosswalk” means:

(A) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway; or

(B) Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

Ga. Code § 40-1-1 (10)

If you’re not sure whether you walked in an unmarked crosswalk during a pedestrian accident, seek professional help. An attorney in your state should know your area’s motor vehicle code. Take advantage of their knowledge so you can maximize what you can sue for your case.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Pedestrian accidents have increased 13% from 2020-21, and the trend continues to rise in urban cities, where unmarked crosswalks are most prevalent. Fatalities increase 11% more at night, so wear light or reflective clothing to make yourself easier to see by drivers.

Unmarked crosswalks have no lights or lines on the road to indicate a pedestrian is crossing, so slow down when traveling at night. Drivers may not slow down or even be intoxicated, so look both ways to further prevent life-changing harm.

Who Has the Right-of-Way in an Unmarked Crosswalk?

Pedestrians generally have the right-of-way when crossing an unmarked crosswalk, but that changes if they violated a traffic law during the accident. Walking outside of a crosswalk may cause a traffic violation in certain states.

Drivers must wait for you to pass when you’re traveling through a crosswalk, regardless of signage. Moving vehicles pose a greater risk for injury than a walking pedestrian, so they have a greater duty of care to keep you safe. If they fail to fulfill their duty of care and get you hurt, their actions may constitute prima facie negligence.

Pedestrians can still be found at-fault for an accident if they cause immediate danger to their safety. Examples of such actions include:

  • Suddenly obstructing traffic
  • Leaving the curb when drivers cannot react
  • Stopping or delaying cars

When Should Pedestrians Yield in an Unmarked Crosswalk?

Pedestrians have to yield to cars that are close enough to be dangerous, and that includes when they’re in unmarked crosswalks. If pedestrians recklessly endanger themselves, especially when walking on the road, they may be held partially liable for their injuries.

Pedestrians should also yield on “No Crossing” signs on the road. If they decide to cross, they risk injury from oncoming vehicles who don’t expect foot traffic due to the signage. All intersections with a “No Crossing” sign prevent foot traffic around the area.

Unmarked vs. Marked Crosswalks

It’s tough to say whether marked crosswalks are safer than unmarked ones with current data. A 1972 study by Bruce Herms found that after studying 400 uncontrolled intersections, he found that marked crosswalks caused more accidents. Since then further studies have debunked his findings, even one conducted by the FHWA in 2005.

Engineering guides like those found in Stockton, California claim that marked crosswalks produce a “false sense of security” because of the marks on the road. This promotes pedestrians to walk at unexpected times, endangering themselves and other vehicles.

Whether unmarked crosswalks are better is still up for debate. Whether there’s a marked or unmarked crosswalk, pedestrians are still required to follow the traffic laws in their state. If a driver or pedestrian fails to account for the safety of others and causes an accident, they may be found negligent while forced to pay damages.

Find a Pedestrian Accident Attorney With LegalASAP

In any pedestrian case where liability is unclear, both parties need to find a personal injury attorney to represent them. A lawyer who knows your state’s tort laws can organize your case so you get the highest settlement possible for your injuries.

Even if you’re partially at-fault, you can still acquire compensation depending on your state. Make sure to file before your statute of limitations ends, or else your case may be thrown out indefinitely. Best part is, your attorney won’t charge a dime until you win and your settlement arrives at the mail.

Schedule a consultation with one of our 500+ law firms located throughout the United States. The process is fast and easy, so rest assured you’ll get the legal representation you deserve for your case. You can call 888-927-3080 or fill out this short evaluation form to connect with one of our specialists.

Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.