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Pedestrian accidents and comparative fault in NJ

Readers have all heard and read about the issue of distracted driving, whether in the paper, on the television, or through having experienced it in their own life. Distracted driving is, indeed, an important highway safety issue nowadays, when so many Americans have smartphones on them at all times, often using them even while they are driving.

With so much focus being placed on the dangers and consequences of distracted driving, one of the issues that can sometimes be overlooked is the fact that there has actually been an increase in distraction among pedestrians as well. According to data from Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of pedestrian injuries attributable to cellphone use is 35 percent high than it was in 2010. 

When a pedestrian contributes to his or her own injuries, this can affect the amount of damages he or she may be able to collect. Under New Jersey’s comparative negligence law, the jury in a personal injury suit may determine the degree of fault to be assigned among all the parties to an accident. The degree to which the plaintiff is deemed to have been responsible for his or her own injuries is the degree to which his or her damages award may be reduced. Plaintiffs are barred from any recovery in cases where they are over 50 percent at fault for their own injuries.

Now, to be sure, it is not always the case that pedestrians are responsible, or even partially responsible for their own injuries. In many cases, it is the fault of a motorist or multiple motorists, or perhaps another party altogether. In cases where a pedestrian is accused of being partially responsible for his or her own injuries, it is critical to have the assistance of a strong advocate to protect one’s interest and maximize one’s recovery.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at how comparative negligence works within the context of New Jersey’s no-fault auto insurance law.

Source:, “Distracted walkers driving city policy in other states,” Nancy Hicks, Dec. 23, 2014. 

Claims Journal, “Understanding Comparative Fault, Contributory Negligence and Joint & Several Liability,” Gary Wickert, Sep. 5, 2013. 

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