Can a Jaywalking Pedestrian Recover Damages after Being Hit by a Car?
When a motorist drives carelessly and hits a pedestrian, the consequences can be serious and catastrophic, and often tragic. The driver may have turned a corner without looking to see if someone was in the crosswalk, or may simply have been driving too fast under the conditions. But what happens when a pedestrian crosses the road in the middle of the block or otherwise in violation of the law or safety guidelines? Is the driver off the hook? Not necessarily.
The Concept of “Shared Fault”
Both drivers and pedestrians are obligated to follow the law. Drivers must obey speed limits, stop at all appropriate signs or signals, and use appropriate caution in all situations. Pedestrians are typically required to cross at corners or in crosswalks, and are often not allowed on certain parts of high-speed roads.
A pedestrian who violates one of the laws governing crossing or traveling along a road may be partially liable or wholly liable for injuries suffered. If a person steps out in front of a car (illegally) and the driver engaged in reasonable actions, but could not avoid the pedestrian, the pedestrian will likely be considered entirely responsible for his own injuries. If, however, the driver was not acting reasonably or failed to act reasonably after observing the pedestrian, the fault may lie with the driver, or it may be shared between the parties.
In New Jersey, when both parties have some degree of liability, the concept of comparative negligence applies. With comparative negligence, the court determines the full amount of the losses suffered by the injured party, identifies the degree to which the injured party caused the accident, and reduces the damage award by that percentage. New Jersey has adopted what is referred to as “modified comparative negligence.” Under the comparative negligence statute in New Jersey, an injured party must be less than 50% responsible for the accident in order to recover any compensation.
Accordingly, if a person jaywalks in front of a car in New Jersey, but the driver has ample time to stop, slow down or avoid the pedestrian, but unreasonably fails to do so, the driver may be fully or partially liable.
Contact Attorney Howard D. Popper
To learn your options when you have been injured because of someone else’s carelessness, contact our office online or call attorney Popper at 973-993-8787. We have offices in Morristown and Newton, but will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no charge for your first consultation.