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Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accident fatalities are rising again throughout the United States after a period of consistently declining numbers for half a decade,. According to crash data reported by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 4,300 pedestrians died in traffic collisions in 2010, an increase of 4 percent from 2009. Approximately three out of four pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas and according to NHTSA, New York City is no exception. In September of 2012, the New York Times reported that 176 cyclists or pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents citywide between July 2011 and June 2012 – a significant increase from the previous year that saw 158 cyclist and pedestrian deaths.

In New York City and elsewhere officials are attributing an increase in the number of drivers who are speeding and distracted to the recent rise in serious injury and fatal pedestrian accidents. A growing number of drivers are becoming preoccupied with smartphones and other electronic devices, which causes them to be less focused on driving.

Pedestrian Accident Guide

Nearly half of all drivers in the country admit to using the Internet while driving, according to recent surveys conducted by State Farm Insurance. A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers who text while operating a vehicle are 23 times more likely to crash than drivers who remain focused on the road. Distracted and reckless driving along with dangerous roadway design has contributed to a dramatic increase in New York City pedestrian accident fatalities.

Challenges Pedestrian Accident Victims Face

Pedestrian accident victims face significant challenges because of the severity of the injuries usually suffered in such collisions. Such victims can suffer a range of injuries from relatively minor injuries including sprains, strains and contusions to severe or even catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, internal organ damage, multiple broken bones, etc.

Injured pedestrians may be left with the prospect of lengthy hospital stays, surgeries and extensive rehabilitative treatments. These injuries can keep them away from work for a significant period of time causing them to lose income and even potentially affecting their livelihood and their capacity to earn an income for their families.

While some injured pedestrians may make a complete recovery, others may be left with permanent injuries and disabilities. For example, victims of broken bone injuries may not be able to regain their strength, mobility or flexibility even after extensive rehabilitative treatments. Such treatments typically result in significant expenses for victims and their families. Some types of treatment and care may not be covered by insurance, which means that patients may have to spend the money out of pocket.

A number of pedestrian accidents in New York City also result in death. In such cases, families of deceased victims are left with significant financial burdens including dealing with medical and funeral expenses as well as the loss of income and benefits that would have been provided by the deceased.

Pedestrian Accidents in New York City

Here are some key findings by the New York City Department of Transportation with regard to crash data involving pedestrians:

  • Pedestrians in New York City are 10 times more likely to die than a motor vehicle occupant in the event of a crash.

  • Pedestrians accounted for 52 percent of traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2009.

  • Driver inattention was cited as a cause in nearly 36 percent of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.

  • About 27 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents involved the driver’s failure to yield.

  • 80 percent of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers.

  • 79 percent of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve private vehicles, trucks and buses.

  • Serious pedestrian crashes are about two-thirds deadlier on major street corridors than on smaller local streets.

  • Manhattan has four times as many pedestrians killed or severely injured per mile of street compared to the other four boroughs. Also, 43 percent of pedestrians killed in Manhattan lived in other boroughs or outside New York City.

New York’s Most Dangerous Intersections

According to the New York City Department of Transportation, there are a number of intersections on 57th Street that are dangerous, especially for pedestrians. The intersection where West 57th Street crosses Eighth Avenue was the worst, with eight pedestrians badly injured or killed there between 2007 and 2011. In fact, 57th Street makes an appearance three times on the city’s list of top 20 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians. The intersections at Sixth and Third avenues saw five pedestrian injuries or deaths during the same period, the study states. Here are some of the other intersections that featured on this list:

The Bronx: Webster Avenue and East Gun Hill Road (6 pedestrian injuries or deaths)

Brooklyn: Neptune Avenue and Ocean Parkway (6 injuries or deaths)

Staten Island: Morani Street and Richmond Avenue (3 injuries or deaths)

Queens: Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue (4 injuries or deaths)

Manhattan’s 10 Most Dangerous Intersections (Ranked in the order of increasing number of injuries):

10. Broadway/ E. 17th St./ Union Square West (1 fatality, 5 injuries)

9. Lexington Ave./ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (1 fatality, 7 injuries)

8. 3rd Ave./ E. 22nd St. (1 fatality, 7 injuries)

7. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd./ W. 145th St. (1 fatality, 8 injuries)

6. Frederick Douglass Blvd./ 145th St. (0 fatalities, 10 injuries)

5. 8th Ave./ W. 42nd St. (0 fatalities, 14 injuries)

4. 9th Ave./ W. 42nd St. (0 fatalities, 14 injuries)

3. 1st Ave./ E. 23rd St. (1 fatality, 13 injuries)

2. 8th Ave./ W. 34th St. (0 fatalities, 17 injuries)

1. Amsterdam Ave./ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (0 fatalities, 20 injuries)

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” Plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio after taking office in 2014 has set a goal of reducing traffic fatalities on New York City’s roadways to zero under his Vision Zero plan. In 2013 alone, 172 pedestrians were killed in New York City. Mr. De Blasio formed a working group to study the problem. Shortly after, speed cameras were set up near schools and dangerous intersections to issue tickets instead of warnings. Mr. De Blasio also increased the number of NYPD officers assigned to its highway division by 20 percent. Other changes still being implemented include lowering speed limits, redesigning streets and increasing the number of red-light cameras.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents often involve victims who are struck by vehicles despite taking the necessary steps to protect themselves on the roadway. A number of pedestrian accidents are caused by the negligent actions of drivers who fail to pay attention to traffic conditions or fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Failure to yield at crosswalks. New York law requires motorists to come to a complete stop at marked crosswalks and only proceed after pedestrians have completed crossing.

  • Failure to stop at stop signs or lights.

  • Pulling out of driveways or parking lots without yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians.

  • Texting or using a cell phone while driving.

  • Driving at an excessive rate of speed.

  • Making unsafe turns or lane changes without paying attention to the surroundings.

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Injured in a Pedestrian Accident – What Steps Can You Take?

If you have been injured in a New York pedestrian accident, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your rights are protected:

  • Get as many details of the accident as possible. Write down or record specifics about the incident such as where you were going, what you were wearing, how the collision occurred, what injuries you sustained, etc.

  • File a police report, which includes your account of what occurred.

  • Make sure that you see a doctor right away regardless of how minor you think your injuries may be. While some injuries such as broken bones may be apparent, other injuries such as internal organ damage or other types of neck trauma may not surface until later.

  • Document your injuries and the expenses you have incurred as a result of your accident.

  • Contact an experienced New York City pedestrian accident lawyer. Pedestrian accidents tend to result in more severe injuries and therefore more medical expenses than other types of traffic accidents. It is important that you consult with a knowledgeable lawyer who will ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected.

  • Try to relax and focus on your recovery.

Tips for Pedestrians to Avoid Crashes

There are several precautions pedestrians in New York City can exercise while walking:

  • If you are walking to school or taking your child to school, cross only where there are signals or crossing guards present.

  • At a signal, cross only when the “walk” signal is displayed.

  • Check for traffic before stepping into the crosswalk, staying alert for turning vehicles, cars running the red light and drivers who may not have seen you. Don’t cross until all traffic has stopped.

  • Be careful near driveways and parking lot exists. Although you are on the sidewalk, a vehicle turning in or out of the driveway must cross the sidewalk and the driver may not be paying attention to pedestrians.

  • Where there are no signals, cross the street one lane at a time.

  • Before stepping out to cross, look to the left, then to the right and then left again to check for traffic.

  • Be careful around ice cream trucks.

  • Be careful when you get off a bus and look carefully for traffic before crossing.

  • Parents should walk the routes to school with their children. Show your children the proper places to cross and how to stay safe.

  • If possible, avoid walking in the dark. If you must do so, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight.

  • Use common sense. Walk only in areas designated for pedestrians such as crosswalks and sidewalks.

Tips for Motorists

Drivers should also do their part to avoid collisions with pedestrians. Here are a few useful safety tips for New York City motorists:

  • Keep your vehicle’s windshield and glasses clean. Wear sunglasses to avoid glare.

  • Many street corners have crosswalks. Motorists in New York are required to stop at all crosswalks. Please remember that crosswalks exist even when they are not marked and pedestrians have the right-of-way at all marked and unmarked crosswalks.

  • Watch out for pedestrians stepping out from between parked cars. Also, remember that where there are plenty of parked cars, there will likely be more foot traffic.

  • Look for pedestrians before you enter or leave a driveway or parking lot. This is when you cross the sidewalk where pedestrians walk. Pedestrians are likely to be less alert while walking on a sidewalk than when crossing a street.

  • Make sure you clear all blind spots. Don’t assume your blind spot is clear until to check and make sure.

  • Use your rear and side windows to look around you before backing up and look over your shoulder(s). Look all around your vehicle and keep your eyes moving.

  • Use extra caution around buses, especially school buses.

  • Jaywalking is not right. But that does not make these pedestrians targets. Stay alert and watch out for jaywalkers.

  • Teach your family about pedestrian safety.

Importance of Being Aware

Whether you are a motorist or a pedestrian, the key to stop the tragedy of pedestrian accidents is to remain aware. Pedestrian accidents often occur when either the driver is inattentive or careless. In a pedestrian versus vehicle collision, the pedestrian almost always suffers because of the size and weight of the vehicle that strikes him or her. According to estimates, most pedestrian accidents may be avoided if only motorists exercised caution at crosswalk.

Damages in Pedestrian Accidents

In pedestrian accident cases, there are several damages victims can seek depending on the circumstances of the incident:

  • Medical expenses: If a negligent driver strikes and injures a pedestrian, the driver should have to pay the pedestrian’s medical expenses. This often includes cost of doctor fees, hospitalization, surgeries, medication, medical equipment and rehabilitation, etc.

  • Lost income: Pedestrian accident victims can also be compensated for wages lost as they recover from their injuries. The compensation for damages in this category often depends on factors such as the nature and extent of the injuries, time spent away from work and the income and benefits etc. earned by the victim.

  • Permanent injuries: Pedestrians also tend to suffer severe injuries that may leave them with chronic pain or permanent disabilities. Examples of catastrophic injuries that pedestrians suffer include traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries, amputations, multiple broken bones and internal organ damage.

  • Past and future pain and suffering: This is the most difficult category because it can be challenging to put a price on an individual’s physical and mental pain and suffering. However, victims are definitely entitled to these damages. An experienced New York personal injury attorney can help injured victims recover the damages to which they are entitled.

  • Other damages: Individuals who have been severely and permanently injured may also seek other damages such as loss of livelihood, especially if they are unable to earn a living as a result of the injury. In many cases, victims may also seek damages for loss of life’s enjoyment. This is true in cases where victims have lost hearing or vision or where someone is unable to walk or enjoy the activities they did prior to the accident, and in many other injury cases also.

Who Can Be Held Liable?

Depending on the nature and circumstances of the case, a number of parties can be held liable for a pedestrian accident. For example, in a case where a negligent or careless driver caused a crash, the driver and vehicle owner can be held liable. If the driver and/or owner are insured (which is most often the case), then their insurance companies will pay the damages to the injured pedestrian. If the at-fault driver caused the accident while on the job, then his or her employer can also be held liable. For example, if a pedestrian is hit by a taxicab, a delivery vehicle or a messenger bike, in addition to the at-fault driver, his or her employer can be held accountable. In cases where a dangerous or defectively designed roadway caused or contributed to the incident, the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway can be held liable. If a pedestrian is injured by an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver, compensation may be sought through the victim’s own auto insurance policy or through a quasi-state agency.

Contacting an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a man who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident.

Please contact our New York personal injury attorneys TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:

1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES

Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com



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