This summer and fall, with nicer weather and folks emerging in public from COVID-induced hibernation, pedestrian/crosswalk safety is vitally important.
A good summary of many areas of the law can be found in the pattern jury instructions that we lawyers use when in trial. These are often given, verbatim, by the judge to the jury to explain the law of the case.
Rules About Crosswalks
Some that are applicable here, designed to keep pedestrians safe, are:
• A driver of a vehicle approaching a crosswalk has a duty of continuous observation.
• The driver of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon (or within one lane of the half of) the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.
• A pedestrian within a crosswalk has the right to assume that all drivers of approaching vehicles will yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian. This right continues until the pedestrian knows otherwise, or until surrounding circumstances should have alerted the pedestrian to the fact that an approaching vehicle is not going to yield the right-of-way. Absent such circumstances, a pedestrian within a crosswalk has no duty to look for approaching vehicles.
• A crosswalk exists not only where marked but at every intersection of roadways, regardless of whether the roadway is marked with crosswalk lines.
The Law Always Favors Pedestrians
The law definitely favors the pedestrian in and near a crosswalk, and with good reason- they are not protected by a heavy metal vehicle. Drivers who don't obey the laws on crosswalks can face fines, criminal charges, and/or a civil lawsuit, depending on the outcome of their violation.
I'll finish with a personal observation from handling injury cases involving crosswalks. Sometimes I think people are more focused on their perceived/actual rights of way (or their phones!), rather than the real-world consequences of their actions.
As a pedestrian, your right-of-way isn't going to do much good if you are struck by a driver who is not paying attention. As a driver, you're not going to be able to sleep easy at night if you injure or kill a pedestrian, regardless of whether they were crossing in the proper place, if paying more attention and driving with more care could have prevented the collision. Attention and caution should rule the day in both roles.