New Jersey Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
Helping pedestrian accident victims get the help they need and deserve
At the Reinartz Law Firm, we work with the victims of pedestrian accidents and their family members to seek just compensation for their injuries.
Because of the vulnerability of pedestrians in pedestrian-auto accidents, the NJ Legislature has enacted laws requiring motor vehicle operators to abide by strict standards of care. If drivers violate these standards, they may be held accountable in both the criminal and civil context. While there are also laws that address the responsibilities of pedestrians in navigating the roadways, in this article, we focus on some of the laws directed at operators of motors vehicle, and the civil rights of injured pedestrians in NJ.
Pedestrian Traffic Accident Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the unsettling news that fatalities are trending up for pedestrians – a stat most road groups don’t share. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians lost their lives to motor vehicle accidents in 2016, an increase of 9% over the previous year. These fatalities represented 16% of all traffic-accident-related deaths for the year.
On average, a pedestrian lost their life due to traffic accidents every two hours and sustained injuries every 1.5 hours. The news for New Jersey was even grimmer. Pedestrian traffic-related deaths accounted for 27% of all traffic accident fatalities during 2016.
New Jersey Pedestrian Laws and Fault
N.J.S.A. 39:4-36, lays a crucial piece of groundwork for pedestrians’ rights by requiring that drivers yield to pedestrians at crosswalks at intersections, and remain stopped until a pedestrian has finished crossing. Importantly, subsection (d) of this statute provides that “in the event of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk, or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, there shall be a permissive inference that the driver did not exercise due care for the safety of the pedestrian.” A guilty plea or conviction under this statute can potentially have effects in a civil lawsuit for personal injury.
Another relevant provision under New Jersey’s traffic code, N.J.S.A. 39:4-129, requires operators of motor vehicles to remain at the scene of an accident involving a pedestrian. This statute provides in pertinent part that a driver who is “knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person” must “immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene.” The penalties under this statute are steep and, if a driver is convicted for leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury, they will be assessed 8 points by the Motor Vehicle Commission, in addition to other penalties and fines.
New Jersey motorists need to recognize important right-of-way rules for pedestrians in crosswalks and intersections. New Jersey Statute 39:4-36 legislates these rights – giving pedestrians the right to legally cross and directing drivers to come to a complete stop and yield when non-motorists are legally crossing.
A driver who behaves recklessly or carelessly can still be held liable for an accident if they strike a pedestrian who’s crossing a roadway without a crosswalk. Impairment can also impart fault. On the part of the non-motorist, they need to exercise reasonable care, as well, to minimize their own risk. Darting into traffic, walking against the “Don’t Walk” sign, and ignoring crosswalks are some examples of unreasonable pedestrian behavior that could shift fault to the pedestrian. The existence of a safer alternate walking path, such as an overhead bridge or tunnel, could also have bearing on fault and liability.
In the civil context, an injured pedestrian may institute a personal injury action against the negligent driver who hit them and caused their injuries. Compensation to an injured pedestrian can include a variety of damages including medical and hospital expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, impairment and future medical costs. Some losses can be proven relatively simply, such as by producing copies of ambulance, hospital and doctor’s bills. However, other types of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering can be more difficult to prove without the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. Demonstrating non-economic damages often requires the services of expert witnesses to provide opinions on issues surrounding causation of the injuries and their permanency.
In New Jersey, the modified comparative fault system applies. If the victim of an accident is partially to blame for his injuries — up to 50% — his damages will be impacted by his percentage of fault. If he is found more than 50% at fault by a jury, he cannot recover damages at all.
By the Numbers: Who is at Risk?
Pedestrians between the ages of 50 and 59 suffered the highest number of traffic-related deaths in 2016. Seniors over the age of 65 represented 20% of all pedestrian traffic-crash fatalities. Children are also at high risk of pedestrian accidents, specifically the 10 to 14-year-old age group. Statistically, male pedestrians suffer more fatalities than female pedestrians in traffic accidents, accounting for more than two-thirds of all traffic-related pedestrian deaths. The highest risk group was men between the ages of 50 and 54. Pedestrians walking at night or in busy city areas are at higher risk as well.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Traffic Accidents
From drunk driving/walking and pedestrian carelessness to bad weather and driver distractions, there are several common reasons for pedestrian-vehicle accidents. Some of the most common contributing factors leading to these types of accidents include:
- Motorist Negligence
- DUI – reported in nearly half of all pedestrian-vehicle crash fatalities
- Phone use, texting, eating, and other driver distractions
- Careless driving
- Running a red light or stop sign
Traffic, Weather and Road Conditions
- Walking into traffic
- Failure to yield
- Alcohol impairment
- Reduced visibility due to inclement weather or nighttime driving
- Driving unsafely for weather and road conditions
- Unmarked crosswalks
- Arterial roadways
- Poorly marked construction zones
Being struck by a vehicle can cause devastating injuries, and often death. Pelvic fractures and broken legs are a common occurrence. Head and neck trauma, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord damage are frequently experienced, and paralysis is a very real possibility. Organ damage and internal bleeding isn’t uncommon, necessitating medical care right away, even when you think the accident was minor. The impact of a huge motor vehicle into the fragile human body can also cause severe lacerations, and even severed limbs.
Concussions are also frequently suffered. Victims may be left with physical scarring. Emotional and psychological trauma is also often a consequence of these accidents. Other common, but less serious injuries include abrasions, small cuts and bruises, road rash, sprains, torn ligaments, and other soft tissue injuries.
What to do After a Pedestrian Accident
If you’re involved in a pedestrian traffic accident, quick action can mean the difference between life and death. Get help for the injured victim immediately. Next, contact the police. Don’t leave the scene before police and emergency personnel arrive. If possible, get names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the incident. Make sure a police report will be made.
If you’re struck by a motor vehicle, seek medical attention right away, even if you don’t believe you’ve been badly injured. Get the driver’s name, insurance, and contact information, if you’re not severely injured. Once you’ve received medical attention, you should speak to an attorney to discuss your legal rights. Don’t negotiate with the insurance adjuster without legal counsel. They’re not your advocate.
Needed Treatment and Care for Severe Pedestrian Accident Injuries
When you’ve suffered serious injuries from a pedestrian accident, the road to recovery can be long, challenging and expensive. You likely needed immediate medical attention to perform essential procedures, like setting and casting broken bones, cleansing and dressing wounds, administering stitches, and other necessary treatment protocols.
Many diagnostic tests and exams may be necessary to determine the full extent of your injuries and how best to treat them. Surgery and other invasive procedures may be indicated, and lengthy hospitalization is possible. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require long-term care and support. This could include therapy and rehabilitation, inpatient and outpatient care, home health care, a wheelchair, and mobility devices. Many pedestrian accident injury victims undergo counseling to help them with the psychological impact in the aftermath of the accident and its consequences.
This range of medical care highlights the need to obtain fair and just compensation that addresses all your damages and pays for what you need to help your recovery and support you if you become disabled due to the accident.
How The Reinartz Law Firm Can Help Pedestrian Victims of Traffic Accidents
Our New Jersey Pedestrian Accident attorneys are experienced in helping victims and their families with these types of personal injury claims. Our team will review the facts of your claim and perform a thorough investigation to determine liability. We will work diligently to assess your damages and fight for every penny you deserve.
Pedestrians who have suffered injuries from the actions of a negligent motorist usually benefit from the assistance of legal counsel. An experienced personal injury lawyer can identify relevant issues at the outset, preserve important evidence and make viable claims against all negligent parties. There are many factors that can affect the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit, and you don’t want to miss something that could hurt your case. With an experienced New Jersey Accident Attorney working on your behalf, you can rest assured that all avenues to a fair conclusion of your case will be considered and that your best interests will be accounted for.
We represent your bests interests in negotiations with the insurance carriers and do everything possible to demonstrate the strength of your claim to command maximum financial compensation. We also provide empathetic, aggressive legal representation for families who’ve suffered the loss of a loved one due to a pedestrian traffic accident.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so we don’t get paid until you recover damages for your injury or loss. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer.
NHTSA stats sources: https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812493