Pedestrian accidents in New York State are a very common occurrence. Slips, trips, falls, knockdowns and hit-and-run accidents have become increasingly deadly. Considering that over a 100 million Americans choose walking as their travel mode (whether for work or socially), it is absolutely vital for them to understand their pedestrian rights, regulated by both the federal law and the laws of the state of New York, in case they suffer injury or death.
According to the Tri-state Transportation Campaign Policy Coordinator Nadine Lemon, “New York State still holds the dubious distinction of having the worst record in the nation for pedestrian fatalities”. The New York State authorities claim that although only 8% of the overall traffic accidents involve pedestrians, they are much more likely to suffer serious injury or even death.
Pedestrian accidents are also one of the most unreported accidents because the majority of pedestrians fail to contact the police after they have been injured in an accident. If you have been injured as a pedestrian, it is absolutely vital that you report the accident to the police, regardless of the extent of your injuries.
Pedestrian accidents usually involve snow, ice and other adverse weather conditions, wet or oily surfaces, obstructions in walking areas, potholes, cracked, broken and unleveled sidewalks, steps and street surfaces, poor lighting inside and outside of buildings, and actions caused by reckless drivers, cyclists, landlords, contractors, property owners, local and state authorities or any individual or group responsible for creating dangerous conditions for pedestrians.
Pedestrians are required to observe relevant traffic rules and safety laws like using the designated pedestrian crossing areas, obeying the ‘walk’ signal, not wearing reflective equipment at night, disturbing the usual traffic flow, observing the signs for closed or blocked sideways and footpaths, or not using clearly marked bicycle paths.
In certain cases, pedestrians living in the state of New York are entitled to compensation for their injuries even if they are partially to blame for the accident (like jaywalking). This is because New York State follows the comparative negligence system which means that an injured pedestrian can receive damages minus the percentage of damages resulting from his or hers fault.
If a pedestrian suffers an injury or is killed after being struck by a motor vehicle, he or she or their family members can obtain insurance compensation through the No-Fault system by giving specific information and filing relevant forms with proper No-Fault insurance company within thirty days from the date of the accident.
Furthermore, according to the Car Accident Law, the pedestrian has to prove the basic four elements – duty, breach, causation, and harm – in order to be eligible for compensation from the at-fault operator of a motor vehicle.
Duty refers to drivers being legally obligated to follow the traffic laws and operate their vehicles in a prudent manner (obeying the speed limits, using headlights, observing traffic signals and similar). Breach of duty involves proving the existence of actions contrary to those stated under duty. Causation in a motor vehicle accident implies that the plaintiff must prove a causal connection between the defendant’s behavior (his or hers negligence in operating a motor vehicle) and the injury or death suffered by the plaintiff which constitutes the fourth element – harm.