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Liability for Pedestrian Accidents in NYC

Who is liable when a pedestrian is hit while jaywalking?

Each year, over 100 pedestrians are killed while walking in New York City, according to the Department of Transportation.  This figure is actually significantly lower than in previous years.  Since Mayor de Blasio enacted the new Vision Zero traffic safety program, the total number of traffic fatalities within the city has dropped, including deadly pedestrian accidents.  However, the number of fatal and serious pedestrian accidents still remains quite high when compared with other regions.  When a pedestrian accident occurs, it can raise important questions as to liability, especially when the pedestrian was jaywalking.

Pedestrian Accident Liability

Pedestrian accidents often result in tremendous injuries to the unprotected pedestrian.  Pedestrians struck by vehicles could sustain traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, internal organ injuries, lacerations, and other severe injuries. All of these injuries can amount to massive medical expenses, the inability to return to work, and ongoing pain and suffering.  For these reasons, injured pedestrian will often pursue a personal injury action against the driver who hit him or her to recoup their losses.

Liability for a pedestrian crash will hinge on negligence.  New York is a comparative negligence state, meaning that a plaintiff can be partially at fault for an accident and still receive compensation from the at-fault defendant. Their recovery, however, will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

All drivers have the obligation to give pedestrians the right of way and obey all posted traffic laws.  Pedestrians also have a legal duty.  Pedestrians must use crosswalks and strive to make themselves visible to drivers.  Accordingly, when the pedestrian was jaywalking at the time of the crash, liability may be shared between the driver and pedestrian.

In New York City, jaywalking is illegal.  Jaywalking is defined as crossing the street in any area other than the designated crosswalk.  If a pedestrian is injured while jaywalking, a court will weigh his or her percentage of negligence against the driver’s degree of fault.  Liability may be split among the two parties, depending on the precise facts of the case.  A personal injury attorney can assist an injured pedestrian in receiving just compensation for the injuries they have endured.