In recent years, more than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in collisions with motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2018 (the most recent year of data) saw a 3 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities.
These are sobering statistics, and a reminder of how important it is for those on foot to take all precautions when walking in and around traffic. However, in the majority of vehicle accidents in which pedestrians are injured or killed, the driver is at fault.
The pedestrian accident lawyers at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help if you were injured or lost a loved one while on foot. Contact us in Fort Lee, New Jersey, for a free consultation.
What Is the Driver’s Duty of Care?
“Duty of care” is a legal term for the obligations owed by one party to another. Drivers have a duty to operate motor vehicles in a safe and attentive fashion that minimizes the risk of harm to others – specifically motorists and pedestrians. Failure to uphold this duty constitutes negligence, and exposes the driver to liability for damages in the event of an accident.
Pedestrians also have a duty of care. When walking, you must exercise reasonable care by looking both ways, obeying Walk/Don’t Walk signs, etc.
At intersections (the most dangerous part of the road for pedestrians), New Jersey law assigns the right of way to pedestrians. So long as the pedestrian exercises reasonable care in crossing the road, the driver of the vehicle is generally considered at fault for accidents resulting in serious injury or death to the pedestrian.
For a free legal consultation, call (201) 585-9111
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians face a serious risk of injury if they are struck by a vehicle. Caution is crucial for reducing the possibility of a crash.
Multiple factors may increase the likelihood of a pedestrian accident. Although some of these issues are within the pedestrian’s ability to control, others fall within the driver’s duty of care:
Marked crosswalks afford pedestrians maximum visibility when crossing the road. Road striping, signs, and traffic signals are all designed to draw a driver’s attention to the fact that somebody is in the roadway.
Since April 2010, New Jersey has required drivers to yield the right of way to pedestrians in unmarked crosswalks at intersections. However, having the right of way on your side does not necessarily mean that drivers will pay adequate attention.
Unmarked crosswalks lack the features that warn drivers of pedestrians crossing the road. Although you have the right to cross in these areas, it is important to look both ways for oncoming traffic and allow enough room for other vehicles to yield to you.
Turning vehicles may strike a pedestrian regardless of the direction of the turn. However, vehicles making left-hand turns are especially dangerous for those on foot.
Drivers who are making a left turn tend to pay more attention to oncoming traffic than pedestrians in the crosswalk. When this happens, the driver may fail to notice the pedestrian until it is too late to stop.
From cell phone use to eating and drinking to conversing with passengers, distractions take many forms behind the wheel. Distracted driving accidents are on the rise as a result. Unfortunately, pedestrians are not immune from this deadly trend.
Drivers distracted by an electronic device can travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. Although this and other forms of distraction may only last a few seconds, that may be all the time it takes for an accident to occur.
Rain, sleet, fog, and other adverse conditions reduce visibility for drivers and pedestrians alike. Although most people avoid going out in bad weather, sometimes walking is the only option.
Motorists need to pay close attention to the road when precipitation is present. In addition to reduced visibility, the roadway may become wet or slick, giving drivers less time to brake if a pedestrian is in their path.
Visibility is key no matter where you are on the road. Cars have headlights and brake lights, but pedestrians clothed in dark colors can be difficult to spot when walking at night.
Wearing dark clothing will not bar you from recovering compensation in a pedestrian accident claim. However, if the driver effectively argues that he or she could not see you because of your outfit, you may be able to recover less in compensation than you deserve.
Legally, jaywalking is crossing the road outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Jaywalking is illegal in New Jersey, although local laws and enforcement thereof vary by municipality.
Pedestrians who jaywalk may be fined for failing to comply with state and local traffic laws. However, the risk of jaywalking is much more than a fine. Moving across the road outside of a crosswalk raises the risk of being hit by a car, especially if the driver is coming around a blind corner or has an otherwise obstructed view of the road.
Intoxication is an issue that can lead to accidents for drivers and pedestrians alike. The risk of drunk driving accidents from overconsumption of alcohol is well-documented, but drinking can also impact a pedestrian’s coordination, judgment, and more.
Pedestrians who move into the road at an inopportune time because they are drunk may be considered partially at fault for the accident, especially if they are outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk. If the driver of the vehicle, on the other hand, was drunk or impaired, the liability generally rests with the motorist.
Contact a Fort Lee Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
The effects of a pedestrian accident can be devastating. Although adults are at a significant risk of serious injury and fatality from collisions with motor vehicles, the threat to children is even greater.
If you have been injured or a loved one was hurt or killed in a pedestrian accident, Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help. Our award-winning attorneys have decades of experience handling pedestrian accident claims, recovering millions of dollars in results on behalf of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users harmed by the negligence of careless drivers.
Please call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 today for a free consultation. Our pedestrian accident lawyers serve clients in Fort Lee and all of New Jersey, as well as New York.