Car accidents in which cars hit jaywalkers can be complicated. On one hand, it is illegal to jaywalk, so should a driver really be held responsible? On the other, what could the driver have done to prevent the accident, and is it negligent not to do try to do so?

To a large degree, it comes down to the driver’s ability to avoid the accident. If a jaywalker steps right out into the car’s path and is instantly hit, the driver will usually not be held responsible. It will be determined that the pedestrian caused the accident.

However, if the jaywalker strolls into the street a few hundred yards ahead of the car and the driver does not slow down or swerve, the driver could be held responsible. Even though jaywalking is illegal, drivers are expected to take reasonable action to avoid crashes when they can, even if they feel they have the right of way.

Negligence also comes into play if the driver should have seen the pedestrian but did not. For instance, a driver who is texting and driving may look away from the road and not see someone step into the street, hitting them with the car. The driver could argue that the road was clear and that the person shouldn’t have been there. While that may be true, he or she could still face charges.

If you’re involved in one of these complex cases, take the time to get to know how the law impacts both parties and what it means for liability in the accident.

Source: Quick and Dirty Tips, “Those Pesky Pedestrians,” Adam Freedman, accessed July 27, 2015