New Jersey Crosswalk Laws & Liability for a Pedestrian Accident
Liability for a pedestrian accident in New Jersey first depends on who was following the state’s crosswalk laws. Failure to follow the laws while on foot or yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while you drive can have serious consequences.
When do pedestrians have the right of way?Pedestrians have the right of way to cross when they are in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, have a "walk" signal, or a traffic control officer gives them the right to cross.
If a pedestrian attempts to cross a road without the right of way, s/he must yield to vehicles.
What are marked and unmarked crosswalks?A marked crosswalk is one that has visible lines on the road to designate a safe walking space for pedestrians. At most crosswalks, there are thick white lines that extend perpendicular, parallel, or diagonally across the road.
An unmarked crosswalk is any intersection of two roads, even where there is no marked crosswalk.
What must a driver do if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk?In 2010, new pedestrian laws took effect that require drivers to stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian has crossed the road and is no longer in the crosswalk.
The only exception is when the pedestrian is crossing a road with a safety island or median that divides the two opposite lanes. Once the pedestrian crosses to the island and is on the lane of the opposite direction of traffic, a driver may continue through the intersection if his light is green.
Is jaywalking illegal in New Jersey?Yes, if a pedestrian walks outside of a crosswalk when one is available or walks into a crosswalk when s/he has a "do not walk" signal, the law considers these actions jaywalking.
If a pedestrian crosses at any point that is not a crosswalk or a pedestrian bridge, s/he must yield the right of way to traffic. Police can hold a pedestrian liable for an accident if s/he steps into traffic without giving approaching vehicles ample time to stop.
Who is liable for a pedestrian accident?Liability depends on which party -- the pedestrian or the driver -- violated traffic laws. If a pedestrian entered the crosswalk on a 'do not walk' signal, s/he is jaywalking and will be at fault for causing an accident. Likewise, if a vehicle enters a crosswalk while a pedestrian has the right of way and strikes the pedestrian, the driver will be liable.
In some cases, both the pedestrian and driver can be liable for the accident. In these cases, the pedestrian will have to prove the driver was at least 50 percent or more at fault if s/he wishes to recover damages.