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Pedestrian Accident Claims in New Jersey

PEDESTRIAN-ACCIDENTSBecause 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.

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 “

[i]n 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.

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 encompass 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.

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.