Pedestrian accidents in New Jersey, as elsewhere in the country, are becoming alarmingly frequent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths have soared during the past few years, in 2016 reaching the highest level in over two decades. There are a number of possible reasons for this: distracted driving (and walking!), more crowded streets, more impaired drivers. In addition to accidents involving pedestrians on city streets, some in which cars jump the curb or even crash into storefronts, there are many rural pedestrian accidents in which people are hit as they walk along the sides of country roads.
If you have been injured as a pedestrian in New Jersey, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, pain, and any other expenses incurred as a result of the accident. As soon as you have received the urgent medical care you require, you should get in touch with experienced personal injury attorneys of Nagel Rice LLP. With offices in Roseland and New York City, we have an excellent track record of success, having won a total of $1 billion for our clients over the years. You should be aware that we work on a contingency basis in pedestrian accident cases, so you owe us nothing until we win you the damages you deserve.
Statistics About Pedestrian Accidents
Although pedestrians may be partially, or in some cases, fully responsible for such accidents, in most cases the driver bears the bulk of the blame. Children and older individuals are most at risk of being hit, the former because they tend to be more reckless and impulsive, and the latter because they have slower reflexes and diminished mobility. It isn’t much of a surprise to find that in nearly half of pedestrian accidents either the driver or the pedestrian was under the influence of alcohol at the time of impact. It is not entirely clear, however, why 66 percent of pedestrian fatalities are male.
Reasons for Pedestrian Accidents
A great many factors contribute to pedestrian accidents. Some are beyond the control of the people involved, such as bad conditions, poorly it or damaged roadways, defective traffic signals, faulty brakes, or the presence of an animal or obstacle on the road. Most of the time, however, human error is to blame. Reasons that drivers are responsible for pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted driving (while texting, talking on the phone, reaching, etc.)
- Speeding and/or driving recklessly
- Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Failing to signal while turning
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
- Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Daydreaming or being otherwise inattentive
- Driving while drowsy or fatigued
The state of New Jersey recognizes that pedestrians may also play a part in such accidents by:
- Being intoxicated or high on drugs
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Entering moving traffic without paying full attention
- Failing to cross at crosswalks
- Darting in front of a vehicle
As we are all increasingly aware, distracted walking has become as common as distracted driving with too many pedestrians texting or looking at screens even as they cross streets. Seventy-two percent of pedestrian accidents happen at night when visibility is limited. The highest number of such accidents occurs between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., presumably when it is, for much of the year, dusk or dark, and during which there is heavy traffic.
Modified Comparative Fault in New Jersey
New Jersey law takes into account that the pedestrian may be partially or completely at fault in a pedestrian-vehicle accident by assigning percentages of fault to each party. This is known as comparative fault. What this means is that if you suffer a serious injury in a pedestrian accident and are awarded, say $100,000 in damages, but are found to be 20 percent at fault, you will receive only $80,000. In other words, your award will be decreased by the percentage of your perceived fault.
New Jersey is a “modified” comparative fault state. This means that you will only receive compensation if your responsibility for the accident is determined by the jury to be 50 percent or less. If the jury rules that you are 51 percent responsible, you will receive no damages at all. This is a compelling reason for you to have a highly skilled personal injury attorney working on your case. At Nagel Rice, we are well-prepared to fight vigorously for your rights. Our powerful litigation techniques are well-known and we have the experience to know which arguments will be most convincing to the jury so they will rule in your favor.
Common Pedestrian Injuries
Because as a pedestrian you are not encased in a protective vehicle, you are extremely vulnerable to injury. Even a driver moving at 10 miles per able can cause you serious injury or even permanently disable you. A driver going 30 miles per able can easily cause a fatality. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common injuries seen in pedestrian collisions tend to be traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and musculoskeletal injuries, followed by chest and abdominal injuries. In musculoskeletal injuries, the legs and knees are most frequently injured, which can lead to long-term disabilities. A great deal depends on the force and angle of impact and where on your body the car hits you. Catastrophic injuries, resulting in amputation, paralysis, permanent cognitive impairment, or loss of vision or hearing are, tragically, all too common when pedestrians get hit by cars, as are fatalities.
Damages You Can Win in a Pedestrian Accident Case
If you have been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, our attorneys will actively pursue your case, working diligently to get you the compensation you deserve for:
- Medical and rehabilitative costs
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Loss of household or childcare services
- Long-term care for permanent disability
- Loss of consortium (companionship, emotional support, spousal relationship)
All of the above are known as compensatory damages and are meant to reimburse you, insofar as that is possible, for the trauma you have undergone. If the driver who hit you was especially reckless, uncaring, or even malicious, or if the accident was a hit-and-run in which the driver left you helpless, the jury may award you punitive damages as well as compensatory ones. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant financially and to deter any other driver from engaging in similar egregious misconduct.
Contact A Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you are no doubt overwhelmed and suffering. Our capable, compassionate attorneys want to help you by taking over all legal aspects of your case while you spend your time recovering. We are well aware that whether you have suffered permanent disability or not, the experience has been life-altering. With our help, you may obtain the compensation you need to carry on. For a free consultation, please call us or fill out one of the contact forms on our website.