In NJ and Nationwide, Pedestrian Deaths Reach Record Levels


Walking on public streets and roadways has become quite dangerous. Pedestrians are dying in America at a rate unseen in four decades. In 2021 nearly 7,500 pedestrians were struck and killed by vehicles. Those fatalities also represent a 12 percent increase from 2020. Despite safe driving initiatives in many states, there are no signs of significant improvement in this rate in the near future.

Recent studies indicate several causes for the high rate of pedestrian deaths. These causes include:

  • Speeding — Driving too fast is a major factor in pedestrian traffic deaths. Faster speeds translate into longer stopping and maneuvering distances. The greater the vehicle speed, the harder it is for a driver to avoid someone walking on the road. In addition, faster speed also translates into more grievous physical injuries when a car hits a pedestrian. In 2020, speed was a factor in 8.6 percent of pedestrian traffic deaths.
  • Distractions — Some drivers do not pay sufficient attention to the road. Many people are distracted by their electronic devices. It is unfortunately common for people read and write text messages while driving.
  • Impairment — Some drivers operate their vehicles while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Despite strict laws against driving under the influence, some people who are not fit to drive routinely get behind the wheel.
  • Distracted walking — Pedestrians also contribute to causing accidents. Many pedestrians are completely absorbed in something other than walking. Some people walk while staring down at their phones. That means they have a reduced awareness of what is happening around them. Also, many people walk with headphones that shut out external sounds that could warn them of impending danger.

When a pedestrian is killed by a negligent driver, the victim’s close family members can sue the driver (and potentially others) for wrongful death. The family can recover for losses of any income that the victim would have earned for the family’s benefit. The suit can also seek money damages for loss of the family member’s affection and companionship.

New Jersey law also authorizes a type of lawsuit known as a “survival action,” which is brought by a legal representative of a person who died as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing. This action allows for recovery of any damages the victim would have been entitled to had they survived. If the victim did not die immediately, the survival action can recover for pain and suffering endured after the accident until the time of death. While a wrongful death case compensates the family, a survival case compensates the victim’s estate. The damages recovered are distributed in accordance with the victim’s will or under state intestacy law.

Ridgewood-based Seigel Law is a highly respected and experienced personal injury law firm in Northern New Jersey. If you have lost a family member due to another person’s wrongdoing, feel free to call 201-444-4000 or contact us online for a consultation.

We are here for you.

Please contact us using the form below in order to schedule a consultation.