In a geographically small but densely populated state like New Jersey, motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians often occur. Children and senior citizens on foot are frequently the victims. You might expect that an injured pedestrian would be viewed as a sympathetic plaintiff in a lawsuit against the driver of the car that hit them. But pedestrians sometimes share in the fault for accidents, and this can affect their recovery of damages.
Just as New Jersey traffic law requires drivers to be watchful for pedestrians and to give them the right of way, the law places responsibilities on pedestrians. For instance, pedestrians do not have the right to cross a street in the middle of the block with no traffic light or crosswalk or to disregard a traffic signal or an instruction by a traffic officer. When a pedestrian’s violation of the law contributes to an auto accident, it may limit or prevent the ability to claim compensation from the vehicle’s driver.
For example, if a driver made a legal right turn on a red light at an intersection and hit a pedestrian who was crossing with a green light, that driver is liable because the pedestrian had the right of way. If, on the other hand, the driver had the green light, made a right turn and hit a pedestrian trying to cross the street against a red light, the pedestrian’s action will be considered a cause of the accident. However, the driver still had a duty to yield to the pedestrian if possible, and failure to do so will also be considered a cause.
This weighing of factors is important because New Jersey is a comparative negligence state, which means that in order to recover damages after a pedestrian accident, the injured walker cannot be more than 50 percent to blame. What’s more, any provable damages will be reduced by an amount corresponding with the plaintiff’s percentage of negligence. So, if a jury finds a pedestrian suffered $50,000 in damages but was 20 percent negligent, the award will be reduced to $40,000.
If you were a pedestrian injured in a motor vehicle accident in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey, consult an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer at Seigel Law as soon as possible. Contact us online or call 201-444-4000 today for a free case evaluation.