Pedestrians who cross larger streets and major roadways are probably well aware of the hazards that their commute presents. Just attempting to cross one of these busy streets is usually a nerve-wracking experience. There is a growing trend in the number of injury or fatal incidents involving pedestrians that many of the largely populated cities of the nation are now struggling to curb.
Anytime a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, it is inevitably the pedestrian who is seriously or fatally injured. The initial impact of the collision with the vehicle and/or the force with which the victim falls or hits the pavement may lead to catastrophic injuries such as brain and spinal cord trauma, broken bones and internal organ damage. These types of injuries often have a significant emotional and financial impact not only on the victims, but also their families. If you or a loved one has been involved in such a traumatic incident, then it is absolutely essential to know how you can protect your rights.
NYC Pedestrian Accident Statistics
Recent data indicates that in New York pedestrian accidents have increased significantly. In fact, a spate of fatal pedestrian accidents on New York City streets is putting the year 2014 on track to be one of the most lethal for pedestrians in the last four years. Seven people were struck and killed by vehicles just in the first 12 days of 2014.
If pedestrian fatalities continue to climb at the current rate, the city would have seen 200 pedestrian deaths by the end of the year. Comparatively, there were 156 pedestrian deaths in 2013. According to the city’s statistics, one New Yorker is killed every 35 hours in a traffic crash and for every eight traffic deaths, New Yorkers suffer 100 life-altering injuries including loss of limbs, immobility, traumatic brain injury and chronic pain.
According to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT):
- Pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die than someone traveling in a vehicle in the event of a crash.
- In New York City, pedestrians accounted for more than half (52 percent) of traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2009.
- Driver inattention caused nearly 36 percent of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
- Also, 27 percent of fatal or serious injury pedestrian accidents involved driver’s failure to yield to pedestrians.
- In the past two years, 70 percent of pedestrian deaths in the city involved a driver either speeding or failing to yield.
- Serious pedestrian crashes involving unsafe speeds are twice as lethal as other such crashes.
- Serious pedestrian crashes are two-thirds more deadly 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 city boroughs.
- Also, 43 percent of pedestrians killed in Manhattan lived in another borough or outside of New York City.
Common Causes of NYC Pedestrian Accidents
According to the New York City Department of Transportation, the following are some of the common causes of pedestrian accidents citywide. Not surprisingly, almost all of them have to do with driver negligence:
- Driver inattention: The most common reason for a pedestrian collision in New York City is driver inattention. According to a DOT study, driver inattention is a factor in 36 percent of pedestrian crashes where the pedestrians were killed or seriously injured. Also, studies show that these types of crashes are twice as deadly as others. While driver inattention has long been a major factor in traffic collisions, the issue has assumed greater significance with the increased use of cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices. In a dense urban environment such as New York City, the failure to pay attention to the roadway can prove devastating.
- Failure to yield: In a recent study, the Department of Transportation found that drivers’ failure to yield to pedestrians is a primary cause of vehicle versus pedestrian collisions. Failure to yield is defined as the failure of a driver to yield to a pedestrian who is crossing the street. Nearly all failure-to-yield pedestrian accidents occur at signalized intersections in New York City. About 27 percent of pedestrian accidents that result in death or serious injury in the city involve a pedestrian crossing with the signal and the driver’s failure to yield.
Although drivers in New York City are required to yield to pedestrians under state law, this violation is shockingly frequent. Notably, failure-to-yield violations are more of a problem in New York City than elsewhere in the nation. Only 14 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes nationwide in 2011 listed failure to yield to a pedestrian as a contributing factor, while that number was 27 percent in New York City.
- Left turns: Pedestrian crashes involving a driver who is turning left are often more devastating than those where the driver is turning right. When turning left, the driver’s visibility is partially blocked by what is known as the A-pillar or the support between the windshield and the side window of the vehicle. This makes it more difficult for drivers turning left to see pedestrians in the left crosswalk.
- Speed: About 21 percent of all serious injury and fatal pedestrian crashes can be attributed to speeding in New York City. A recent series of DOT-sponsored focus groups found that most New York City residents were unaware of the city’s default speed limit (25 mph). Furthermore, failing to drive at a safe or appropriate speed that matches local conditions can also lead to pedestrian crashes. Pedestrian accidents involving unsafe vehicle speeds are twice as deadly as others. In fact, research shows that the likelihood of a pedestrian fatality in a crash is directly and exponentially related to the vehicle’s speed when it strikes the pedestrian.
- Alcohol and/or drugs: Nearly 8 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes in New York City involve an impaired driver. In New York City, pedestrian crashes that involved impaired drivers were more than twice as likely to result in a death.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero
One of Mayor de Blasio’s first actions after assuming office was to unveil “Vision Zero,” an ambitious plan that aims to eliminate traffic deaths within 10 years. The mayor says he plans to do this with increased enforcement. The city has already set up school zone speed cameras that began issuing warnings to violators. NYPD will start prioritizing enforcement of the most dangerous infractions that cause pedestrian fatalities – speeding and failure to yield.
Also, NYPD will be increasing the size of its highway division, which investigates crashes and performs much of the department’s traffic enforcement, to 270 officers, an increase of 50 percent. The unit has already increased its staff size by 10 percent. Other measures under Vision Zero include the widening of parking lanes, to keep delivery vehicles out of travel lanes while double-parked, and looking into the use of an automated system that could pause a taxicab’s meter if a driver exceeds the speed limit.
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission has said that it will form an “enforcement squad” focusing on dangerous taxi drivers and begin a pilot program to install black box data recorders in the city’s taxicabs and limousines. Some of the mayor’s proposals such as bringing down the citywide speed limit and installing red-light cameras require approval in the state capital.
New York City’s Most Dangerous Roadways for Pedestrians
According to an analysis of federal data in 2010 by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Manhattan’s Broadway is New York City’s most dangerous roadway for pedestrians. From 2010 to 2012, nine of the city’s 420 pedestrian deaths occurred on Broadway, with seven of them occurring on or above 99th Street. Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens is the second most dangerous roadway in the city for pedestrians with eight deaths during the same period.
In Manhattan, 2nd Avenue, 1st Avenue, and 7th Avenue were behind Broadway with the most pedestrian fatalities. In Brooklyn, Flatbush was the most dangerous street followed by Ocean Parkway, Atlantic Avenue, Avenue J, Belford Avenue and Eastern Parkway. In the Bronx, the most dangerous roadways were East Gun Hill Road, Fordham Road, Grand Concourse, and White Plains Road. In Queens, Woodhaven Boulevard, Northern Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, and Union Turnpike were the deadliest. In Staten Island, Forest Avenue, Port Richmond Avenue, Richmond Avenue, and Victory Avenue were the most lethal for pedestrians.
Curbing Pedestrian Accidents
Motorists must exercise due care at all times by:
- Keeping a lookout for pedestrians and slowing down at crosswalks and intersections.
- Being prepared to stop when entering a crosswalk area.
- Sticking to the speed limit and driving at a speed that is safe and appropriate given traffic, weather and roadway conditions.
- Stopping and yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians who are in crosswalks. Stop well back so that drivers in other lanes can also see the pedestrians in time to stop.
- Not overtaking or passing other vehicles that have stopped for pedestrians.
- Being especially attentive around schools and neighborhoods where children are present.
Pedestrian Accidents: Rights of Pedestrians Walking Outside a Crosswalk
Pedestrian accidents often tend to result in significant injuries, damages and other losses for the victims. When a motor vehicle or even a bicycle strikes a pedestrian, it is the pedestrian who suffers the more severe injuries almost every time. Drivers in New York owe other motorists a duty to use reasonable care while operating a vehicle. When they fail to meet this duty of care, they may be held liable for the injuries and damages they cause. A motorist also has a duty to operate his or her vehicle with reasonable care around pedestrians.
In any accident involving a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle, it is of course the pedestrian who is more vulnerable and may end up being seriously injured. This is due to the fact that the force of the collision is proportional to the mass of the vehicle and the speed at which it is traveling. And in most cases, even a vehicle traveling at a slow speed, due to its weight, will produce a considerable impact with the potential to cause major and/or fatal injuries.
When You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you are probably wondering how you would pay for your medical expenses and make up for the income that was lost as you recovered from your injuries. Many victims end up having to undergo extensive rehabilitative treatments such as physical therapy. These types of costs add up very quickly and are often not covered by medical insurance policies.
Injured pedestrians have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault parties, who are often the motorists who hit and injured them. When a vehicle hits a pedestrian, a common question is whether the pedestrian was walking inside a crosswalk at the time of the incident.
When a Pedestrian Walks in the Crosswalk
New York City has laws in place that protect pedestrians who are walking in crosswalks. Section 1151 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law requires a driver to slow down, stop or otherwise yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk where traffic control devices are not operational at the time. So, if a driver fails to yield the right of way at a crosswalk and hits a pedestrian, the driver can be held liable for the pedestrian’s injuries, damages and losses. Furthermore, where the crosswalk is at an intersection with a traffic light, Section 1111 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law requires motorists to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
A recent law was passed to protect pedestrians’ right of way even when the crossing light is flashing. Before this law went into effect, pedestrians crossing a street at a crosswalk with a “Walk, Don’t Walk” sign only had the right of way if they had begun crossing when the sign showed a white walk signal. However, now, motorists are required to stop and yield the right of way even if the light is blinking. As long as the crosswalk signal shows the equivalent of a walk signal or a blinking don’t walk signal, or the countdown clock has not reached zero, the pedestrian shall have the right of way.
When a Pedestrian is not in a Crosswalk
When a pedestrian is not in a crosswalk and is struck by a motor vehicle, the pedestrian may still be eligible to receive compensation. Many victims tend to believe they are not entitled to compensation if they have been injured in a pedestrian accident where they were walking outside a crosswalk. This is not the case. Drivers cannot escape liability in a pedestrian accident case just because the pedestrian was outside a crosswalk.
Section 1146 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law requires drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian. Motorists are also required to sound the horn when necessary. Therefore, even if a pedestrian is outside of the crosswalk, a driver may be held partially or totally at fault depending on the circumstances that led to the collision.
Examples of some of the circumstances under which a driver may be held liable include, but are not limited to:
- The driver was operating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- The motorist was operating at a high rate or speed or at a speed that was unsafe at the time of the incident.
- The driver was speeding in a school zone or residential zone.
- The motorist was distracted by an electronic device or something else.
- The motorist was not looking properly and soon enough and/or the driver did not swerve, blow his horn or hit the brakes properly etc.
The Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm have achieved very favorable outcomes in cases where pedestrians were not walking in marked crosswalks. Our law firm was able to secure a full $1,000,000 policy for a woman crossing the street, who was hit by a truck, even though she was not in a crosswalk at the time. We also got $950,000 for a man who was injured in a pedestrian accident while crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.
Pedestrian Accident FAQs
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York City pedestrian accident, you may have a number of questions regarding your legal rights and options. You may be wondering what amount of compensation you are entitled to and whether you can hold the at-fault motorist accountable for your losses.
Here are answers to some of the questions we, as personal injury lawyers, are frequently asked in pedestrian accident cases:
Do I need an attorney to handle my pedestrian accident claim?
Yes; to protect all of your rights, even if your injuries were small. Also, if you were injured and had to be hospitalized and/or missed workdays, you need an experienced New York pedestrian accident lawyer on your side who will fight for your rights and help ensure that you are fairly and fully compensated for all your losses.
What responsibilities do drivers have toward pedestrians?
A driver has what is known as a “duty of care” when it comes to operating his or her vehicle near pedestrians. They are required under the law to yield the right of way to pedestrians. New York City law requires drivers to come to a full stop at crosswalks and yield the right of way to pedestrians. Even where there are no crosswalks, motorists have a responsibility to drive carefully. In certain areas such as school zones, drivers are expected to look out for children crossing or even running across the street. For this reason, school zones and residential neighborhoods have lower speed limits.
Can I seek compensation or file an injury lawsuit if I was not walking in a crosswalk?
Yes, absolutely. Victims should not believe that they are not entitled to compensation or that they don’t have the right to sue if they were not in a crosswalk at the time of accident. You are entitled to damages even if you were partially at fault. You may still bring a claim against the driver and the owner of the vehicle and/or another party if they were only partly responsible for your injuries and losses. Our law firm was able to secure the full $1,000,000 policy for a woman crossing the street, who was hit by a truck, even though she was not in a crosswalk at the time. We also got $950,000 for a man who was injured in a pedestrian accident while crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.
What should I do if I’m injured in a pedestrian accident?
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, there are several steps you can take immediately after the accident to ensure that your rights are protected. First and foremost, if you have been injured, do not deny medical attention. Go to the emergency room and get the treatment and medical care you need right away. If you are unable to return to the scene, have a family member or friend do so and gather information that could prove invaluable should you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
You should obtain photographs of the accident scene and your own injuries. Try to save any type of physical evidence including torn or bloodied clothing. Obtain all contact information including insurance, driver’s license number and vehicle license plate for all parties involved. Eyewitness information can also be extremely valuable in these cases. A person who saw the accident occur may be able to corroborate your statement or describe precisely what occurred.
If you have auto insurance, notify your insurance company that you were involved in a pedestrian accident. Do not talk to insurance companies or attorneys for other parties. Do not give any statements or admit fault. Keep track of all your expenses including medical and hospital bills, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, etc. Do contact an experienced New York pedestrian accident attorney who will help protect your rights and look out for your best interests. Injured victims of pedestrian accidents can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families of deceased victims can also seek compensation for their losses by filing a wrongful death claim.
Can I seek damages if I’ve been injured by a hit-and-run driver?
If you have suffered injuries in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident, you should still inform your auto insurance company about the incident. If the driver who struck and injured you fled the scene without providing any information, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses through the uninsured motorist clause of your own auto insurance policy. This is also the case when a member of your household has been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. A knowledgeable lawyer can better explain how your auto insurance policy applies to a hit-and-run accident or in a case where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. Also, if there is no motor vehicle in your household you may still be able to recover money through a quasi-state agency. Contact a lawyer right away regarding this.
What types of damages can I seek in a pedestrian accident case?
The damages that a victim can seek in a pedestrian accident case will often depend on the nature and extent of injuries sustained as well as the wrongful activity (liability) of the wrongdoer (defendant). Generally speaking, the greater the severity of your injuries and the defendant’s liability, the greater the value of your claim. Injured pedestrian accident victims can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
What if my child has been injured in a pedestrian accident?
While motorists in New York City have a “duty of care” to all pedestrians, the level of caution exercised is expected to be even higher where children are concerned. In New York, penalties are often higher for drivers who strike and injure children especially when they do so while driving at an unsafe speed in a school zone or by illegally passing a school bus. If your child has been injured, an attorney who has experience handling similar cases can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
Who can I sue in a pedestrian accident case?
If you were seriously injured in a pedestrian accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. This may be a driver who caused the accident by driving impaired, distracted, fatigued or by failing to yield the right of way, etc. In some cases, property owners and/or property managers who fail to maintain their premises can also be held liable for pedestrian accidents; for example when someone falls on their property.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident or if you have lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by a reckless driver or due to someone else’s negligence, 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, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van.
Please contact us 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
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