As technology continues to advance, so do the incidents of distracted driving. In 2017 alone, it was reported that nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed throughout the United States as a result of a distracted driving accident. As this statistic suggests, when distracted driving occurs, those distracted drivers are more likely to cause an accident, either with another car or with a pedestrian, which can result in serious injury or death to everyone involved. If you are a pedestrian or the loved one of a pedestrian that was injured by a distracted driver in New Jersey, there are certain legal steps you can take to hold the distracted driver accountable for their actions and to obtain monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained.
Types of Lawsuits Injured Pedestrians or the Loved Ones of Deceased Pedestrians May File in New Jersey
If you are hit by a distracted driver and suffer injuries as a result, New Jersey law permits you to file a negligence lawsuit against the distracted driver. Similarly, if your loved one was hit and killed by a distracted driver, New Jersey law permits you to file a wrongful death action against the distracted driver. Both actions are similar in that they allow the complaining party to recover monetary compensation for damages suffered because of the distracted driver’s conduct. However, they are slightly dissimilar from one another in that both actions require the complaining party to prove different elements in order to prevail in the lawsuit and negligence and wrongful death actions provide for different types of damages to be awarded if the complaining party successfully proves its case.
Negligence Actions and Distracted Driving
In order for a pedestrian to prevail in a negligence lawsuit against a distracted driver, the pedestrian must prove the following four elements:
- That the driver owed him or her a duty of care
- That the driver breached the duty of care owed to the pedestrian
- That this breach of duty caused the pedestrian’s injuries
- That actual damages resulted to the pedestrian
Generally, all drivers owe a duty of care to pedestrians and other drivers to drive as a reasonably prudent driver under the circumstances. This means that drivers should remain attentive and alert while operating their vehicles and should refrain from activities which divert their attention elsewhere. Drivers breach this duty of care when they allow themselves to engage in activities that cause them to become distracted. These activities include:
- Using a cell phone or another device to call someone or to check their social media
- Watching videos
- Applying makeup or fixing hair
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reaching for items on the floor of the car or in the back seat
If drivers are engaged in one of the above activities immediately before or when they hit you, then they will be considered to have caused any resulting injuries you, as a pedestrian sustain, from being hit with the car. Because, as a pedestrian, you are not shielded from direct impact with the the distracted driver’s vehicle, odds are that you will be seriously physically injured. These physical injuries will likely require medical attention, which will cause medical bills to pile up. In addition to sustaining physical injuries and subsequent medical bills, you may also suffer emotional distress from unexpectedly being hit by a car while walking or jogging. Moreover, because of the physical injuries or emotional distress you suffer from the accident, you may also have to take time off of work to recover or you may never be able to work again. If one or all of these consequences result from you being hit by a distracted driver and you can prove it by presenting evidence to that effect, you will be able to prove the actual damages element necessary to prevail in a negligence action in New Jersey.
If a pedestrian prevails in a negligence action against a distracted driver, he or she may be awarded monetary compensations, otherwise called damages, for:
- Current and future medical expenses for the injuries caused by the accident
- Lost wages and/or loss of earning capacity If the pedestrian had to take time off of work to recover from sustaining injuries or cannot no longer work due to his or his injuries’
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
Wrongful Death Actions and Distracted Driving
In a wrongful death action, New Jersey law requires that the complaining party prove that a death resulted because of the wrongful act, negligence, or default of another person. When a pedestrian is hit and killed by a distracted driver, one can prevail in a wrongful death action by proving that the distracted driver acted negligently while operating the vehicle and this negligence caused the pedestrian’s death to occur. To prove that the driver was acting negligently, you must be able to prove the same elements as listed above when describing negligence actions against a distracted driver.
Wrongful death actions are a bit different from negligence actions, however, in that they are brought on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate of the deceased pedestrian to compensate the beneficiaries for the injuries they sustain as a result of losing the deceased pedestrian. Most of the time, beneficiaries are the surviving family of the deceased pedestrian. Because a wrongful death claim is designed to compensate the beneficiaries of the deceased pedestrian and not the deceased pedestrian himself, beneficiaries may recover the following damages if it is proven that a distracted driver hit and killed the pedestrian:
- Loss of financial support previously provided by the pedestrian to the beneficiaries
- Loss of companionship previously provided by the pedestrian to the beneficiaries
- Loss of the value of household services the pedestrian previously provided to the beneficiaries
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses associated with the deceased pedestrian
Contact an Atlantic City Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Negligence or Wrongful Death Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to being hit by distracted drivers in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Brown Law represent clients injured because of being hit by distracted drivers in Atlantic City, Ventnor City, Pleasantville, Hamilton], and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 344-8270 or email us to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3123 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 201, Atlantic City, NJ 08401.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.