Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian Accident Attorney in West Orange, NJ

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 150 to 175 pedestrians are killed each year in New Jersey due to being struck by motor vehicles. Nationwide, there are about 75,000 pedestrian accidents each year, but only a small percent actually end in fatalities. Nonetheless, as a pedestrian, you have little protection against a motorized vehicle that weighs two tons or more, so you have to be careful.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident in or around West Orange, New Jersey—or worse, had a loved one lose their life—contact the Law Offices of Mitchell R. Friedman, P.C. Attorney Friedman will listen to the circumstances of the accident, advise you of your legal options going forward, and represent you in your insurance claim, personal injury lawsuit, or wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one has been lost.

The Law Offices of Mitchell R. Friedman, P.C. also represent clients in East Orange, Newark, Jersey City, and the rest of Hudson County.

Determining Liability

Drivers have a duty of care to protect other vehicles and pedestrians on the roads they are traveling. If their actions or inactions result in harm to others, then they can be said to have abandoned their duty of care through negligence and are thus liable.

If there is a pedestrian accident, liability must be determined. A pedestrian obviously can’t just run in front of a moving car and claim the right of way, but pedestrians are protected so long as they observe their responsibilities. New Jersey law gives pedestrians the right of way even in unmarked crosswalks at an intersection, unless the intersection is signalized. When there is a traffic signal, pedestrians must obey the signal. Generally speaking, any pedestrian struck by a vehicle can seek recovery for medical expenses and other damages if the driver can be shown to be mostly at fault.

Negligence, however, is a double-edged legal sword. New Jersey observes what is called the modified comparative negligence rule, also called the 51 percent rule. What this means is that, in a pedestrian accident, both the vehicle operator and the pedestrian can share liability through their own acts of negligence. Say you step from the curb precipitously without looking left and right, and a vehicle making a right turn strikes you. How much did your own negligence contribute to the accident?

A jury in a personal injury lawsuit, or even an insurance company claims adjuster, will assign a percentage of liability to both parties. Your inattention to traffic could earn you a liability share of 35 percent (or more or less). As a result, say you are seeking $30,000 for medical expenses and other losses due to the accident, you could obtain only 65 percent of that amount, or $22,750 ($30,000 minus 35 percent). If you were deemed 51 percent or more at fault, you can obtain nothing—the 51 percent rule at work.

New Jersey No-Fault Laws

New Jersey auto insurance laws are no fault. This means that when you are injured in an accident, the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) feature of your own insurance will be used to pay for your injuries. When you buy your insurance, you will also be given the option of “full tort” or “limited tort” coverage.

Full tort costs extra premium-wise, but it also gives you the right to sue the at-fault party for medical expenses and even for pain and suffering. With limited tort, you can still sue for medical costs but not for pain and suffering. It can quickly become confusing, so if you’re injured in a pedestrian or other accident involving a motor vehicle, contact us immediately.

Keep in mind, however, that New Jersey imposes a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits dating from the day of the injury. For wrongful death, the statute is also two years, but from the date of the death, which may occur later than the injury that causes the victim’s passing.

What to Do if You’re Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

  1. Get medical support. If you are struck by a motor vehicle as a pedestrian, priority number one is your health and well-being. You should call 911 for medical help if your injuries call for immediate care.  

  1. Report the accident. You should also report the accident to the police, who can come, investigate, and file a report. Getting a copy of the report can aid in any claim or legal action. 

  1. Gather documentation. If there are witnesses, get their statements and contact information. Of course, get the driver’s contact and insurance information as well. Using your smartphone, take pictures or videos of what happened—show crosswalks, signalized intersections, roadside traffic signs, and anything that bears on the accident. When you get a chance, write down or record everything that happened to the best of your memory. 

  1. Contact an attorney. The final step, even before you call your insurance company, is to confer with a pedestrian accident/personal injury attorney to discuss your options going forward.  

  1. File an insurance claim. If you’ve never dealt with an insurance claim adjuster before, you probably won’t be prepared for the grilling you’ll get so the adjuster can find something you did to pin part or all of the blame on you. The adjuster’s role is to minimize any settlement or even deny it if possible. It’s best to let your attorney handle the claim adjuster. 

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New Jersey

If you’ve lost a loved one due to a pedestrian accident, it is possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The legal standard is that, had the decedent lived and been able to file a personal injury lawsuit, then a wrongful death lawsuit is justified.

New Jersey, however, requires that the decedent’s personal representative (also called the executor of the estate) as named in that person’s will must file the lawsuit. If there is no will or designated personal representative, the court will appoint one, generally from the surviving family. Any award of compensation will go to the surviving spouse, children, or parents.

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