Imagine entering a crosswalk while with the right-of-way, but the car coming toward you fails to stop. The damages of such a collision can be severe depending on the speed of the car. Simply because the car is larger, does not mean the driver can ignore your rights as a pedestrian. Whether you are walking on the sidewalk or crossing the street, as long as you are obeying a reasonable duty of care, you have the right to be there.
Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, on average, almost 5,000 pedestrians lose their lives due to motor vehicle related accidents. Many of these accidents happen when people try to cross highways on foot.
If you have been the victim of a driver's negligence while you were walking, you may be entitled to compensation. A local Bergen County personal injury attorney can advise you on how best to handle your claim. Read further for an overview of pedestrian rights.
Driver's duty of care
When individuals are operating motor vehicles, they have a duty of care to act in a reasonable manner. They not only owe this duty to their passengers and other drivers, they also owe it to pedestrians. People often fail in this duty and commit negligence. Some of the most common acts that contribute to negligent driving include speeding, ignoring traffic signs, failure to use turn signals and failure to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
Distracted driving also plays a major role in accidents. People are checking their text messages, playing with their radios or even reading the newspaper while they are driving. Multitasking while behind the wheel is one of the biggest contributors to accidents.
Pedestrian's duty of care
While the easiest thing to do would be the blame the driver for any accident involving a pedestrian, the reality of the situation is that pedestrians also have to exercise a reasonable amount of care. In general, you have to exercise the same level of care to avoid danger. In other words, if you stop in the middle of a busy intersection to check your text messages and a car hits you, the court may rule against you. Texting in the middle of the street is not the best way to demonstrate you are concerned with your own safety.
When a court rules that you are partially to blame for an accident, the legal system calls it contributory negligence. This means that in the court's eyes, you contributed to your own injuries. The court considers disrupting the flow of traffic, failure to use crosswalks, ignoring traffic signals and running into traffic to be acts of negligence on the part of pedestrians.
If you have been the victim of a negligent driver while you were walking, it is important to understand your rights. Contact a local Bergen County personal injury attorney for advice on pursuing a claim for your injuries.