According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), every year nearly 5,000 pedestrians are fatally struck by motor vehicles, and nearly 80,000 more are injured. Children between the ages of five and nine are most likely to be struck by a vehicle. Not only are they small and difficult to see, but they also act unpredictably and erratically. Many pedestrian accidents are preventable, and often occur when a pedestrian is attempting to cross an intersection and a driver is not paying attention. Poorly maintained roadways or construction and debris that is blocking the pedestrian’s path can lead to an accident.
Usually, in the event of an accident, a pedestrian’s primary legal claim will be against a negligent driver. Whenever a pedestrian is hit by a car, the driver of the car is usually considered to be at fault, even if the pedestrian was not in the crosswalk at the time. This is because drivers have a legal obligation to avoid hazards in the road and a pedestrian would fall under this rule. In New Jersey, pedestrians always have the right of way. Depending on the circumstances, an injured pedestrian may file suit against the municipality if unsafe streets or traffic control devices played a role in the accident.
A Driver’s Legal Duty to Pedestrians
Drivers are obligated to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, and failure to do so will be considered negligence. For example, in some conditions, even doing the speed limit may be negligent when road conditions are icy and slippery. Some common examples of negligent driving include:
When children are around, drivers must be even more cautious. When driving past a school, park, or residential area, drivers may be legally required to exercise an even greater degree of care than they would otherwise.
When Is a Local Municipality Liable?
A municipality may be held legally liable if the street is poorly planned. For example, when there is a crosswalk placed after a sharp turn without a sign to warn oncoming drivers that there is a pedestrian crossing ahead and just out of view, the municipality will be held liable. Another common example of municipal negligence that can result in a pedestrian accident is a defective traffic control device, such as a red light. For example, a pedestrian and oncoming traffic might both receive a green light at the same time.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
If you have been struck by a car while on foot, you will likely be confused and in a state of shock. The first thing you should do is call the police to file a report and seek medical attention. Even if you think the accident is not severe enough to warrant it, it is important to document what has happened. Next, take photographs of the accident scene, as well as the car that struck you. If any witnesses were present, be sure to get their contact information, as well as the contact information of the offending driver. Next, call your insurance company. Regardless of how you perceive what happened, never admit to the insurance company or the driver that you were at fault. Contact an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer right away so that you can build a strong case from the beginning, and to make sure that you meet any statutes of limitations to prevent your claim from being barred.
If you were struck by a car while on foot or while riding a bicycle, the experienced personal injury lawyers in Trenton at Davis & Brusca, LLC can help you determine whether you have a viable claim for damages. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 609-786-2540 or contact us online. Our offices are centrally located in Princeton, New Jersey, serving clients throughout the state.