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Can a Pedestrian Be Sued for Causing an Accident?

Pedestrian accidents contribute to a disproportionate degree of injuries between the vehicle occupants and the pedestrian struck by the vehicle. While many people believe the driver is usually at fault, can a pedestrian be sued for causing an accident? That depends on several contributing factors.

Can a Pedestrian Be Sued for Causing an Accident?

The short answer is that yes, an injured driver or passenger can sue a pedestrian for causing an accident. If the pedestrian’s negligence was a contributing cause of the accident, and the driver or a passenger in the vehicle suffered injuries due to the accident, the pedestrian could be held liable.

What are some instances where a vehicle occupant could sustain injuries in pedestrian accidents? A driver or passenger might receive an injury in a collision if:

  • The pedestrian stepped in front of the vehicle, and the driver didn’t have time or space to avoid the pedestrian
  • The pedestrian stepped in front of the vehicle, and the driver swerved into unoccupied parked cars to avoid the pedestrian, causing injuries and property damage
  • The pedestrian stepped in front of the vehicle, and the driver swerved into another occupied vehicle in another lane of traffic, causing injuries and property damage

Situations like these can happen when a pedestrian jaywalks across a busy street or crosses against the signal at a crosswalk.

What Factors Are Considered in Determining Pedestrian Liability?

pedestrian lights with green red and yellow lights

Several factors determine liability and negligence in a pedestrian accident case. Insurance companies and courts will determine each party’s share of liability during their investigations and hearings.

If you are a driver or passenger injured in an accident caused by a pedestrian, your pedestrian accident lawyer will need to prove negligence by the defendant led to your injuries. The four elements of negligence that your attorney will have to prove are:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • The defendant breached their duty
  • You suffered injuries and losses as a result of the accident
  • The defendant’s actions directly contributed to the accident that caused your losses

Your attorney will need to gather support for your personal injury claim. Your insurance company or the court will consider several factors in your claim, such as the following:

Pedestrian Behavior

Did the pedestrian behave in a way that contributed to or caused the accident? Some factors the court might consider on the part of the pedestrian include whether the pedestrian was jaywalking, using the crosswalk, crossing against the crosswalk signal, or failing to look for traffic before stepping into the street.

Driver Behavior

The court or insurance adjuster managing your claim will also consider driver behaviors that might have contributed to the accident. Was the driver speeding? Was the driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Was the driver distracted by a phone or passengers in the vehicle?

Right of Way

Who had the right of way at the time of the accident? Was the driver in the right to keep moving with the flow of traffic, or did the pedestrian have the appropriate crossing signal at the crosswalk?


Was the driver’s view obstructed from seeing the pedestrian before the accident? Did the pedestrian take appropriate measures to be visible to motorists before crossing the street?


What evidence is available to prove either side’s claims about the events that contributed to the accident? Did nearby businesses have security cameras that caught the accident on video? Your attorney and the opposing legal team will seek out video and photographic evidence of the accident.

What Are the Damages and Compensation Options for Victims?

gavel notebook calculator and dollar bills on white table

In a personal injury claim through your insurance policy, you can pursue compensation for economic losses like medical expenses for your injuries, lost wages from time off of work, and additional expenses related to treatment, like travel costs for appointments and rehabilitation or physical therapy.

But can a pedestrian be sued for causing an accident? If you, as the driver or passenger, file a personal injury claim in court, you can pursue both economic and non-economic damages for your injuries. Non-economic damages are compensatory awards for losses you sustain that don’t have a set monetary value. Instead, your attorney can help you estimate a fair value for these losses, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The court may also award additional damages to the plaintiff if the defendant’s actions were reckless, intentional, or malicious. In these instances, the court might award punitive damages to deter similar behavior by the defendant in the future.

Is There Insurance Coverage for Pedestrian Liability?

In most cases, you can file a claim under your auto policy for pedestrian accidents. New Jersey is a no-fault car accident state for non-serious injuries, meaning if your injuries fall below the threshold of a serious injury, you will file an insurance claim under your personal injury protection (PIP) policy.

In instances of serious injury, you can sue the negligent party who caused the accident for your medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering or diminished quality of life.

You may also sue under any circumstances if you choose an insurance policy with an “unlimited right to sue” clause. This clause is helpful if you only carry the minimum $15,000 in PIP coverage required by the state of New Jersey. If you suffer injuries beyond your coverage limit but below the limited right to sue threshold for serious injuries, you can still sue to cover your medical expenses and other losses.

What Should Pedestrians Do To Avoid Being Sued for Causing Accidents?

Pedestrians should follow the law and common sense when walking near roadways. Because drivers and passengers are protected by the car around them, they often walk away from pedestrian accidents with very few injuries, while pedestrians can suffer costly medical bills if struck by a motor vehicle.

Pedestrians should always:

  • Look both ways before crossing a roadway, even if there isn’t much traffic
  • Use a crosswalk and cross with the signal
  • Look for drivers making a right on red who might not see a pedestrian waiting to cross
  • Wear high-visibility clothing at key times, including dawn, dusk, and at night
  • Avoid walking near unprotected highways, bridges, and other limited-access roads

Can a Pedestrian Be Sued Even if They Were in a Crosswalk When the Accident Occurred?

road warning sign in pedestrian accident

A pedestrian doesn’t necessarily have the right of way if they are using the crosswalk. If they cross against the signal, they could be liable for any property damage or injuries a driver causes trying to avoid them. While drivers must exercise care to prevent pedestrian accidents, pedestrians are also responsible for using caution around roadways.

Statute of Limitations in a Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrian accidents fall under the umbrella of personal injury law. In any personal injury case in New Jersey, accident victims have up to two years to file a lawsuit in court to pursue compensation for their injuries.

Filing before the statute of limitations is essential if you want the court to hear your case. Because of the time limit, you should seek to retain an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. An attorney can help you file the appropriate documentation with the court within certain deadlines if you want to take your personal injury claim to court.

What Are the Potential Criminal Charges for Pedestrians Causing an Accident?

In most cases, there may not be criminal charges against either party in pedestrian accidents. If there are, it’s usually an at-fault driver who broke the law and caused the accident. Typical incidents when drivers commit a traffic infraction in pedestrian accidents include speeding, texting while driving, failing to yield, and disregarding stop signs or traffic signals.

There are also times when drivers break the law and commit a crime, including driving under the influence, failing to stop after an accident (hit and run), or vehicular manslaughter if the pedestrian dies from their injuries.

So, when might a pedestrian face criminal charges if they cause an accident? In most cases, if pedestrians follow the appropriate laws, they won’t face criminal charges. However, if a pedestrian is distracted, fails to yield to a vehicle outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk, or otherwise contributes to the accident, they may have committed an infraction.

Additionally, if a pedestrian runs into the road while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or refuses to stay at the scene of the accident, they may face misdemeanor charges for disorderly conduct.

Contact an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer in New Jersey

Can a pedestrian be sued for causing an accident? In New Jersey, the answer is generally yes. Because personal injury law is complex, you should contact an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to represent you in your case. Call us at Sadaka Law at (800) 810-3457 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with an attorney dedicated to doing good things with the power of the law.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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