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What should you do after a pedestrian accident in New Jersey?

Anyone who sets foot on a road is a pedestrian. Regardless of why you’re out, if you’re walking in the vicinity of moving cars, you’ll be considered a pedestrian. If you get into an accident while you’re out on a walk or jog, catching a bus, or even heading towards your own car in the parking lot, it’s considered a pedestrian accident. Pedestrian accidents are very common and happen nearly every day. Although fatal injuries are rare in a pedestrian accident, the injuries can still leave a life-long mark, disability, or trauma.  

When a car hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is more at the risk of serious injuries than the driver. Car accidents can leave pedestrians with life-altering injuries, disabilities, and suffering. That’s why there are laws to protect the rights of pedestrians. If you’ve been hurt in a pedestrian accident, you can claim coverage for your injuries. The insurance company of the at-fault party is liable to cover the costs of your injuries. Additionally, you can also file a personal injury lawsuit for your pain and suffering against the at-fault party.   

Since 2014, the average number of pedestrian accidents have been consistent in New Jersey. However, the number is very high. Several pedestrians get into accidents on a regular basis. If you’re one of them, then you can recover costs for your injuries by contacting a personal injury lawyer in New Jersey.

Here’s all that you need to know about pedestrian accidents in New Jersey and what you should do if you get into one.

New Jersey Pedestrian Accidents- Statistics and causes

According to the statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 66,000 pedestrians fall victim to accidents that require imminent medical attention every year. In 2018, a staggering number of 6,227 people lost their lives in pedestrian accidents nationally. This number represented the greatest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1990.

New Jersey is one of the states with the greatest number of fatalities due to pedestrian accidents. Every year, an average of 125 pedestrians die after getting into an accident.

Check out other related statistics below:

  • Almost 16% of road fatalities involve pedestrians in the US.
  • New Jersey accounts for as much as 29% of all car crash fatalities nationwide. That is the third-largest number, topped only by the state of Nevada and the District of Columbia.
  • Almost 50% of all pedestrian accident fatalities were attributed to alcohol overuse and drunk driving.
  • The increased number of heavier automobiles like SUVs and small trucks was also a significant contributing factor to fatal accidents. 
  • Around one-fifth of pedestrian accidents are hit and run cases.
  •  A third of all pedestrian deaths happen during nighttime.
  •  20% of pedestrian deaths happen on crosswalks and intersections.
  • Urban towns and cities report the maximum number of pedestrian accidents. The absence of crosswalks and sidewalks is also a contributing factor. 
  • Almost 50% of fatal pedestrian accidents involve cars moving at an average speed of fewer than 40 miles/hour.
  • 25% of pedestrians are likely to sustain serious injuries when hit by cars moving at 25 miles/hour.

The statistics mentioned above show that pedestrian accidents are very

common and can leave the victim with serious injuries or even lead to death. The number of victims of pedestrian accidents seems to be growing with each passing year. Several factors, like the increase of pedestrians on the road, distracted driving, and careless road-crossing all contribute to these accidents.

Who’s liable for damages in a pedestrian accident?

In all personal injury cases involving pedestrians, such as car accidents, slip-and-fall, etc., the injured pedestrian can claim to recover for damages depending on who the at-fault party is. A claim can be filed against the party whose negligence led to the pedestrian’s injuries.

Whether we realize it or not, we all have a duty towards each other. When someone fails to fulfill this duty, it leads to serious consequences. For example, a vehicle driver has the duty to be responsible on the road. If someone gets injured due to their negligence, the driver is personally liable for their injuries and suffering.

So, if you get into an accident, which is someone else’s fault, you become legally entitled to receive recovery for your damages. Apart from receiving the cost of your medical treatment, you can also claim compensation for your lost wages, suffering, pain, emotional distress, trauma, and other associated consequences of the accident. 

What type of damages can be recovered in a pedestrian accident?

In New Jersey, the injured pedestrian can receive damages for their injuries if they are less than 51% at fault. The state implements a 51% rule to determine comparative negligence. So, if the pedestrian is more than 51% at-fault for their own injuries, then they can not claim any damages. When the injured person is slightly at-fault, but it’s less than 51%, then the damages recovery award is reduced accordingly.

In any case, the jury of the case evaluates each case and the evidence provided by both parties. Only then the final percentage of fault is determined. If you get injured, and the other party is proven to be at-fault, then you can recover the following damages:

  • All current and future medical bills
  • Cost of any required therapies or rehabilitation
  • Current and future lost wages
  • Inability to return to work
  • Pain, suffering, and mental distress
  • Scars, disabilities, disfigurement of a body part
  •  Consortium loss

What to do after being hurt in a pedestrian accident?

If you get into an accident as a pedestrian in New Jersey, you need to take a few immediate actions to secure your rights. In case of severe injuries, you need to call for emergency medical assistance. Then you need to take the following steps (If you can’t, ask someone else to help you out):

  • Call 9/11 and file a report with the police
  • Take the information of the driver or any other at-fault party
  • Talk to the witnesses and note their contact information. If possible, record a video or audio of them describing the accident
  • Take as many photos and videos of the accident scene as possible. If possible, take pictures of the cars involved.
  •  Refrain from posting any of the pictures and videos from the scene on the internet. They are valuable evidence, and posting them online could cause issues in the case.
  • Get medical assistance.
  • Call an experienced personal injury lawyer in New Jersey.

What to do in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident?

The pedestrian accidents that involve a driver who flees the scene after hitting you are called hit-and-run cases. Since you don’t have any contact or insurance information from the driver, it can be difficult to trace them. If you manage to note down the license plate number of their car, then the police may succeed in tracing them. If there are witnesses, the police can try getting information from them as well. Evidence from the scene can also assist the police in identifying the hit-and-run driver.

But what if there’s no way to trace the at-fault driver? It’s possible that the police may not be able to find the driver. In that case, you can make a claim against your own auto insurance in New Jersey. If you don’t have an underinsured or uninsured motor policy, then it’s likely that you do not recover any damages, unfortunately.

What to do if you sustain injuries due to road conditions?

What if you get into a pedestrian accident that doesn’t involve any cars and is caused due to poor road conditions? Sometimes pedestrians get injured due to open potholes, dysfunctional traffic lights, obstructed traffic signals, broken street-lights, or below-par traffic patterns. If that’s the case, then you might have a valid liability claim against the local government.

When someone gets injured on someone else’s private property, the owner becomes liable for the damages. However, it becomes a little tricky when public property is involved. The claim against a government entity works differently. That’s why you should call an experienced personal injury lawyer so they can help you with your options. A personal injury lawyer will also be better qualified to file a lawsuit against the government entity on your behalf.  

What is the pedestrian right-of-way law in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, the recovery for damages is contingent on the percentage of fault of each party involved in an accident. That is why it’s important to know about pedestrian rights and state laws to make sure you don’t become liable for your own losses.

As per the New Jersey state law NJ Rev. Stat. § 39:4-36, there are two sections of pedestrian rights:

  1. The driver must yield to pedestrians: This section of the law implements the rights of pedestrians by enforcing the right-of-way for pedestrians. The drivers must yield and give way to pedestrians crossing the road in an unmarked intersection. The exception to this law only applies to crosswalks that are controlled by signals and roads with pedestrian tunnels or overhead crossing.
  2. Pedestrians must abide by traffic signals: Pedestrians are required to yield their right-of-way in case of a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

If a driver fails to abide by the right-of-way laws and doesn’t yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, they can be charged with the following penalties:

  • 2 points off their driver’s license
  • A fine of $200
  • Insurance surcharges
  • 15 days of community service

If the pedestrians disobey the pedestrian signal or continue to use a crosswalk at an intersection with a signal, they can be with a fine of $54.

Is there a time limit in which I have to file the lawsuit?

Each state has its own statutes of limitations, which define the length of time that you have for filing a personal injury lawsuit after an accident. In New Jersey, the time limit for filing a lawsuit after getting into a pedestrian accident is two years. If you file your claim after two years, you may not recover any damages. Therefore, it’s essential to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible for the evaluation of your case.

Although you may think that two years is a long time to file your claim, it takes a lot of time to file a promising case. Your personal injury lawyer will need time to evaluate your case and gather evidence to support your claim. Collecting all the necessary documents, such as a police report, medical bills, witness testimonies, etc. is a time-consuming process. That’s why you must contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

How much does it cost to file a personal injury lawsuit?

In New Jersey, personal injury lawyers do not charge any fee upfront. Most law firms even offer free consultancy for personal injury cases. Pedestrian accidents are classified as personal injury cases, and most lawyers work these cases on a contingency basis. It means that they do not charge you anything until they have successfully recovered your damages.

Your personal injury lawyer receives a percentage of the settlement amount that you get in damage recovery. That is why you should always consult with a lawyer even if you aren’t sure you have a valid claim. They can assess it much more critically and present you with the best options.

Conclusion

After you get into a pedestrian accident, you should never sign anything from the insurance company of the at-fault party. It would be much better if you consult with a personal injury lawyer so they can help you identify the options in your best interest. A personal injury lawyer can help you recover the maximum compensation possible.

If you’ve been in a pedestrian accident in New Jersey recently, contact us at Keith Zaid Law for an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. We will assess your case and represent you through the process of damages recovery.

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