New Orleans is a walkable city – a feature that both locals and tourists enjoy. The ability to walk through our oak tree-lined thoroughfares and bustling centers of nightlife is a facet of our rich culture. In our city, walking is often easier than driving, especially when you’re heading to the parade route or a French Quarter hot spot.

Yet there are risks that this walkability poses. In recent years, New Orleans has seen more deaths and injuries for pedestrians and motorists alike. This trend isn’t only happening locally. It also follows a trend seen nationally in many U.S. cities. It is alarming to consider that something as enjoyable as walking can become a risk in so many bustling areas of the country.

New Orleans Street with pedestrians and carsHowever, you may be wondering what is causing this increase in injuries and fatalities locally. Recently, city officials have cited a rise in distracted and impaired driving and an increase in larger vehicles on the road. With bigger cars on the roadways, you can imagine there is a higher likelihood of fatality for pedestrians.

With these risks in mind, pedestrians must practice extra caution when navigating our city streets. It may seem benign to quickly cross Magazine Street, hopping from store to store on such a walkable road. However, many locals and visitors may forget the immense threat jaywalking poses. We field many questions regarding this topic, including:

What exactly is jaywalking?

Is jaywalking illegal in New Orleans?

Why is jaywalking illegal?

Do pedestrians have the right-of-way in Louisiana?

What do I do if I was involved in a pedestrian accident?

As a law firm specializing in personal injury, we are your go-to source for questions like these. Read on to learn more about jaywalking and the risks it poses to pedestrians and motorists alike.

What is jaywalking?

Jaywalking is the act of crossing a street where and when it is unlawful to do so. Pedestrians are expected to follow traffic signals and use designated crosswalks safely. Examples of jaywalking include the following:

  • Crossing the road outside of designated crosswalks or intersections (mid-block)
  • Disobeying traffic signals, such as the red hand or “Do Not Walk” symbol
  • Crossing where it disrupts the normal flow of traffic
  • Walking where pedestrian traffic is prohibited

Jaywalking can be dangerous for pedestrians and motorists alike. In the scenarios above, a moving vehicle may have little chance to stop or swerve to avoid a collision. Many jurisdictions provide fines or citations to pedestrians who jaywalk as a means of preventing accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

What is the legality of jaywalking in New Orleans?

The New Orleans Code of Ordinances has several statements on what is and isn’t permitted regarding pedestrian and vehicle flow. In summary, jaywalking is illegal when:

  1. There is an opportunity to safely cross at the nearest two intersections via a crosswalk and/or pedestrian signals.
  2. It is impossible for the oncoming vehicle to stop or yield.
  3. One is within our city’s business districts.

It is important for pedestrians to keep local ordinances in mind when walking around our city. Crossing mid-block in the Central Business District without using crosswalks or traffic signals may not seem dangerous. However, these safety measures are in place for a reason. We’ll get into why jaywalking is illegal in the next section.

Why is jaywalking illegal?

There are a few reasons why jaywalking is considered illegal. Many people consider safety as the top priority, but there are other lesser-known priorities as well.


Traffic laws are in place to protect the lives of those using the road, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. Crossing the road in unsafe locations can increase the risk of accidents and collisions, leading to injury and/or death. By making jaywalking illegal, we can better ensure our streets continue to be walkable and safe.

Flow of Traffic

In large, bustling cities, the flow of traffic can easily be disrupted. Traffic laws are in place to ensure an efficient movement of traffic. If pedestrians were allowed to unexpectedly cross the road, the flow of traffic could be easily disrupted by congestion and potential accidents.


Traffic laws and signals establish a sense of predictability for everyone on the road. By following these designated pathways, we can better anticipate the movement of others. Unpredictable roadways could lead to confusion and danger for everyone involved.

What makes jaywalking dangerous in New Orleans?

To consider the danger of jaywalking, we must first consider the inherent risks of being a pedestrian. In New Orleans, traffic accidents as a whole are on the rise. City officials recently revealed that there was a 32% increase in traffic fatalities between 2020 and 2021.

This is alarming for those who want to walk around our beautiful city. From 2020 to 2021, pedestrian fatalities increased from 11 to 21, doubling year-over-year. In 2022, 71 deaths from traffic accidents occurred. Half of these were pedestrians.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. saw over 7,000 pedestrian fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in 2020. That year, pedestrians made up one out of every six traffic accident deaths.

There are several factors that increase the risk of pedestrian injury and death. The CDC has identified the following risk factors:

  1. Alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrian
  2. Increased vehicle speed by the driver
  3. Urban environments
  4. Roadways afar from the nearest intersection
  5. Nighttime

As enchanting as our rich nightlife is in New Orleans, you can see how it poses major risks for motorists and pedestrians alike. For pedestrians in particular, the risk of injury or death increases when disobeying traffic laws and jaywalking into oncoming traffic.

With the growth in reckless driving and the number of larger vehicles on the road, pedestrians and drivers alike must practice caution. Accidents between pedestrians and motor vehicles can cause injuries and fatalities – and make our streets less safe. When walking around our cultured city, pedestrians must consider the risks of jaywalking.

Do pedestrians have the right-of-way in Louisiana?

You may be wondering, “If jaywalking is illegal, when do pedestrians have the right-of-way in New Orleans?” A pedestrian will have the right-of-way when:

  1. Traffic signals suggest it is safe to walk.
  2. Crossing via a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

The pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to vehicles when:

  1. Crossing a street outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
  2. Traffic signals suggest it is not safe to walk.

However, there are stipulations that motorists must keep in mind. While it is illegal for a pedestrian to jaywalk or fail to yield to a vehicle, drivers of motor vehicles are still expected to practice caution. We’ll get into the reasons why in the next sections.

What should I do if I was a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle?

Granted that you’ve sought medical attention, recorded all relevant information from the accident, and reported the incident to authorities and your insurance company, seeking legal counsel should be your next priority.

It is important to find an attorney that specializes in personal injury and understands the traffic regulations in New Orleans. Your legal team will be able to review the facts of the case, including where, when, and how the accident occurred. This includes determining whether you as a pedestrian crossed the roadway lawfully.

At Huber Thomas Law, we specialize in recovering damages for injured parties. We understand that you may be navigating stressors, including sustained injuries, expensive medical bills, and an overall loss in quality of life. We aim to take the burden of seeking compensation off of your shoulders.

When you want to take legal action, we'll listen to your story and find the best way to handle your case. Below are the three scenarios we can help you navigate.

If You Crossed the Roadway Lawfully

Legal counsel is your best opportunity to fairly determine liability in the case. If you obeyed traffic signals and crossed the road legally, your team can decide if the driver is responsible. The driver may have acted in a negligent manner with activities including:

  • Failing to stop completely at a stop sign or red light
  • Failing to yield to the pedestrian's right-of-way
  • Becoming distracted by their radio, cell phone, or other device
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs
  • Navigating the roadways aggressively

If the driver demonstrates evidence of such negligence, authorities may determine them to be at fault. This is the most favorable case for a pedestrian, as it may be less of a challenge to prove pedestrian liability.

If You Crossed the Roadway Unlawfully

The case may become more challenging if you crossed the roadway illegally. The counsel of the motor vehicle may argue that you were jaywalking and at fault for the accident. If the facts of the case measure up to this argument, it will be hard to recover compensation for your injury.

If Both Parties Are Responsible

Sometimes a pedestrian accident can be the result of negligence from both parties.  Louisiana has a comparative fault rule.

In a case, the people involved may receive a share of blame. This share of blame determines the amount of money they can receive as compensation. If you as a pedestrian crossed unlawfully, there is a chance that your amount of compensation may decrease depending on your determined fault in the accident.


What should I do if I hit a pedestrian as a driver?

Drivers and pedestrians alike have a responsibility to practice caution. However, as a driver, be aware that Louisiana law is particularly kind to pedestrians. It is a challenge to prove that a driver did not have a reasonable ability to avoid an accident.

After an accident, you must gather all relevant information, report the incident to authorities and your insurance company, and seek medical attention if you experienced an injury. Once you’ve done so, you must contact an attorney who specializes in personal injury law.

If you find yourself wondering who was at fault, reach out to our team at Huber Thomas Law. We’ll listen to your story, review all relevant evidence, and determine the best possible course to take for your case. We have experience in determining the most favorable outcomes for our clients.

When you work with Huber Thomas Law, you have a team in your corner. We’ll start with an initial consultation to determine which of the following three scenarios match the facts of your case.

If You Practiced Caution

Let’s say you were practicing caution and a pedestrian suddenly walked in front of your car. It will be tricky for your legal team to prove you made every accommodation to avoid a collision. The best-case scenario is if a judge or jury agrees that the pedestrian was jaywalking.

If You Did Not Practice Caution

If the pedestrian was crossing lawfully, their legal team may argue the incident occurred due to distraction or negligence. In this example, it will be difficult to obtain a favorable result or compensation for your case. There may be evidence that you participated in the following acts of negligence:

  • Driving while intoxicated or impaired
  • Failing to yield to the pedestrian's right-of-way
  • Neglecting to completely stop at a stop sign or red light
  • Being distracted by your cell phone, radio, or other device
  • Speeding or driving with reckless or aggressive behavior

If Both Parties Are at Fault

There are many instances where comparative fault may be determined. The case could assign a percentage of fault to both the pedestrian and driver, reducing each party's compensation proportionally.


Your Advocate After a Pedestrian Accident

An accident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian can be traumatic for both parties. City ordinances and traffic laws can make these cases even more of a challenge for everyone involved. If you’ve found yourself in the aftermath of a pedestrian accident, we can help. Schedule a free consultation with us today.