Although most people never dream of stepping out of their vehicles while on the road, sometimes this is necessary. For example, you might have hit a deer in a rural area, and perhaps you must step out of the vehicle and remove the obstruction from your hood. Maybe you need to get out and assist an injured motorcyclist who has fallen onto the road with severe injuries. Police officers may instruct you to exit the vehicle in certain situations. And perhaps most obviously, your car might simply break down in the middle of the road. But what happens if you’re struck and injured after exiting your vehicle? Can you still sue in this situation?
Volleyball Coach Suffers Fatal Injuries After Being Struck on I-295
Stepping out of your vehicle can result in serious injuries. This was made clear after a high school volleyball coach was struck and killed by a passing vehicle on I-295 near Mount Laurel. The coach had pulled over onto the right shoulder after experiencing mechanical issues. As he was surveying the issue, a 19-year-old driver approached and struck him. Not much additional information was released, and the crash remains under investigation. When faced with mechanical issues, getting out of your vehicle is an almost unavoidable necessity. Even if drivers remain in their vehicles, they still risk being rear-ended by passing vehicles. The truth is that this is a very difficult situation to handle.
Are You at Fault for Getting Out of Your Vehicle?
Fault may be challenging to determine if you are struck while getting out of your vehicle. There are many factors to consider, and one of the first things to assess is whether your car was parked legally. Parking on the shoulder may be legal in New Jersey depending on the specific area and other circumstances, such as the direction of traffic and the time of day. Generally speaking, you should always pull over to the right shoulder if possible. In addition, you should put on your emergency lights to warn approaching vehicles of your location.
New Jersey Is a No-Fault State
If you are parked legally, the driver who strikes you will likely be held liable. But the issue is that New Jersey is a “no-fault” state, which means that it may not be necessary to determine who was to blame. Under this “no-fault” system, each driver simply turns to their own state-mandated PIP insurance for compensation instead of filing a lawsuit. In this situation, you would not even need to consider whether you were parked legally or whether the other vehicle passed too close to you before the accident.
The no-fault system is often enough to cover the cost of medical expenses, missed wages, and emotional distress. If your policy payout doesn’t provide enough compensation, you can turn to the other driver’s policy for additional funds.
However, some injuries are so severe that the no-fault system cannot possibly cover the cost of your damages. For example, the volleyball coach mentioned above lost his life. This represents damages far greater than a typical case of whiplash or even a broken bone. His family members may struggle with missed wages for the foreseeable future, as he might have been the primary wage earner. The family may also need to cover funeral costs and unpaid medical expenses related to attempted life-saving treatment. In this situation, the family would have the option to sidestep the no-fault system and file a lawsuit instead. This can provide more compensation. Alternatively, New Jersey gives drivers the right to opt out of the no-fault system from the beginning.
Where Can I Find a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney in New Jersey?
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. We know that traffic injuries can occur in many ways in the Garden State, and we are ready to guide you toward a fair settlement in a confident manner. Even if you have been injured while outside of your vehicle, you may still have the opportunity to pursue a settlement for your medical expenses, missed wages, emotional distress, and other damages. Remember, lawsuits can become more difficult the longer you wait due to the statute of limitations. While internet research is a positive first step, it can only get you so far. Book your consultation today and get started with a solid action plan based on your unique circumstances.