Pedestrians Face Increasing Danger on NYC Streets
New York City pedestrians are experiencing one of their deadliest years in nearly a decade. By the end of the first quarter, accident stats showed that 59 people already died in traffic crashes. This is 44 percent more than the 2021 stats for the same time. Around half of these deaths (29) were pedestrians.
Disturbingly, this increase in deaths does not appear to be an anomaly but part of a larger trend developing in traffic deaths for both pedestrians and car passengers.
These traffic fatalities come on the heels of special projects and millions of dollars authorities spent to make city streets safer. Unfortunately, as the numbers show, their efforts have not produced the results they wanted. Read on to learn more about NYC pedestrian accidents from our experienced New York personal injury accident lawyers.
Vision Zero in New York City is a traffic program based on the philosophy that traffic crashes are not inevitable and the right efforts can prevent them. This initiative strives to protect the public and eliminate all traffic fatalities in the city.
Vision Zero measures implemented on NYC streets have included:
- Reducing speed limits
- Redesigning city roadways for pedestrian and bicycle safety
- Enhancing penalties for traffic violations
Sweden’s Vision Zero program, which the country implemented in 1997, inspired New York’s Vision Zero initiative. These programs share the philosophy that traffic fatalities are neither inevitable nor acceptable. Since its implementation, Vision Zero has led to a 50 percent reduction in traffic fatalities in Sweden.
In New York, however, Vision Zero has not proven quite as effective, although since the program’s implementation the city has seen a slight overall decrease in total traffic deaths. In 2013, there were nearly 300 traffic deaths in the city. Five years later, in 2018, the death toll had dropped to 202.
How NYC Pedestrian Accidents Occur
Much of the time, factors outside of the pedestrian’s control lead to their injuries or deaths. In most of these cases, driver recklessness or negligence is the culprit.
Driver Inattention or Distraction
Many pedestrian accidents occur at intersections while a pedestrian is crossing. Intersections are more dangerous than roads due to cross traffic, bikes, and pedestrians. Drivers who allow themselves to become distracted at intersections often fail to navigate the many moving parts and end up crashing.
DWI accidents in New York City cause numerous crashes each year, many causing injury and death. Police, prosecutors, and the courts work hard to penalize these offenders. When they cause injuries or fatalities, plaintiffs can hold them accountable financially for the harm they caused.
For pedestrians, speed often kills. According to Transportation Alternatives, pedestrians have an almost zero percent chance of survival if a vehicle going 50 miles per hour or more strikes them. At 40 miles per hour, this figure rises to 20 percent. And at 25 miles per hour, the pedestrian survival rate is 70 percent.
Where Most Pedestrian Traffic Accidents Occur in NYC
Accident statistics compiled by the NYPD demonstrate that Brooklyn is the borough with the most car crashes. Consider March 2022 as a snapshot of the big picture.
During that time, Brooklyn had 2,817 vehicle collisions, compared to Queens with 2,407, the Bronx with 1,555, Manhattan with 1,432, and Staten Island with 449. Of the eight pedestrians killed citywide that month, three died in Brooklyn, three in Queens, one in Manhattan, and one in the Bronx.
Of the 732 pedestrian injuries throughout the city, the largest number (259) occurred in Brooklyn. Queens had the second-highest number of injuries at 175, and the Bronx had the third-highest, with 140. Manhattan was fourth, with 128, and Staten Island was last, with 30.
Injuries Resulting From Pedestrian Accidents in NYC
In addition to death, pedestrians suffer all manner of injuries in traffic accidents. Unfortunately, these grave injuries may end in death, even years down the line.
In contrast to bicyclists, pedestrians do not normally wear helmets or other protective equipment. As such, they risk serious head injuries when hit or thrown by vehicles. Traumatic brain injuries come about due to violent trauma or piercing injuries that penetrate the brain.
Even so-called mild traumatic brain injuries can result in long-term or permanent disability.
A crash may injure a pedestrian’s spinal cord in many ways. Direct trauma can cause the vertebrae to crush or pierce the cord. Twisting or stretching forces commonly cause spinal cord damage. The result of these injuries is frequently full or partial paralysis.
Pedestrians are at high risk for internal bleeding and organ damage if hit by a vehicle. Sometimes, the internal injury’s symptoms do not manifest immediately after the crash, and the victim fails to get medical treatment. The result could kill a victim or cause the loss of a valid claim for compensation due to a lack of a timely medical evaluation of injuries.
Facial and Dental Injuries
A car accident’s violent nature and suddenness may make it impossible for pedestrians to protect their faces from injury. If the crash knocks the pedestrian unconscious, the chances of severe injury increase. Facial lacerations and burns often occur, along with damage to the mouth, including to the teeth, gums, tongue, and jaw.
Broken bones are among the most common injuries to pedestrians. The extreme forces generated by an impact with a vehicle or the ground can easily damage the skeleton. In some cases, cars may crush pedestrians.
Scrapes, lacerations, and burns are common results of pedestrian-car crashes. The concrete surfaces of roads and sidewalks are unforgiving and do great damage. The resulting injury is sometimes called “road rash.” Severe road rash cases scrape away skin and muscle tissue down to the bone and introduces infections.
The extensive nature of pedestrian injuries turns peoples’ lives upside down. One death or injury has a ripple effect that touches everyone in the victim’s life and permanently alters the trajectories of many people.
Recourse for Pedestrians and Their Families
Vision Zero is an ambitious plan. It originally had a goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024. Unfortunately, this objective seems unlikely, given the increasing traffic deaths.
Until Vision Zero achieves its goal, pedestrians or their families can seek recourse for damages caused by these terrible accidents through personal injury claims.
Family members of pedestrians injured or killed in a crash can pursue justice for their deceased family member with a wrongful death claim filed by a personal representative. The law recognizes the immense loss and damages caused by negligent and reckless drivers and provides pathways to financial compensation.
The first step is speaking with a pedestrian accident lawyer about your loved one. You need an experienced advocate dedicated solely to your interests. They will review your case and choose an appropriate path forward.
To succeed with a wrongful death lawsuit, your pedestrian accident lawyer must show that:
- There was a death
- The driver’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct caused the pedestrian’s death
- The deceased would have the right to a personal injury claim if still living
- The family has demonstrable economic damages from the death
In New York, the family does not directly bring the wrongful death claim as in some other states. Instead, a personal representative, appointed by a will or court, files the claim for the family. In some cases, this personal representative is a family member.
The compensation available from wrongful death suits includes:
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s care before death
- Lost future earnings that would have supported the family
- Burial and funeral costs
- Survivors’ lost inheritance
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before passing
- Loss of parental nurturing and guidance for children
- Punitive damages
Some of these damages are simple to calculate, such as medical expenses and funeral costs. Others, such as the pain and suffering of the deceased, are more difficult to determine. That is why you need a seasoned personal injury lawyer fighting for the highest compensation possible.
Personal Injury Claims
Pedestrians who survive traffic crashes may suffer catastrophic injuries, especially if the driver broke the speed limit. As with pedestrian fatalities, the law gives victims and their families the right to demand compensation from the drivers who caused their damages.
After speaking with a personal injury lawyer, you’ll get some peace from the assurance that a professional is looking out for your best interests. They will handle your claim directly and deal with the other side’s attorney and insurance company.
Pedestrian survivors of accidents will often have an array of damages affecting their lives. Even if they make a full recovery, they may still feel the economic and emotional consequences of the injury.
Common damages pedestrian victims claim in personal injury lawsuits include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages from the past and future
- Lost future earning power
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of pleasure in life
As in wrongful death damages, an experienced personal injury lawyer will fight hard to increase your compensation. The plaintiff will often receive settlement offers after filing the case. Skilled personal injury attorneys know that these offers are usually too low and will demand more.
It is in the best interests of insurance companies to settle claims of obvious fault quickly and outside of a trial, where a jury could award the plaintiff with sizable compensation and punitive damages. An experienced personal injury attorney will not only negotiate skillfully but also prepare to go to trial if the insurance company refuses to settle the claim.
Help Beyond Vision Zero
Vision Zero is an ambitious initiative. Whether it will one day reach its goal of zero injuries or fatalities is unknown. What is known is that NYC pedestrians are suffering fatal or serious traffic accidents at a staggering rate.
All the victims of these tragic occurrences truly desire is to put their lives back together as best as they can. In many cases, this is an uphill battle that will take years and require extensive financial resources.
If you or a loved one were walking or waiting for a bus in NYC and a vehicle hit you, then you may have a way out from under the financial strain the accident caused. You can make your lost income, medical bills, and various other expenses the responsibility of the negligent or reckless person who hit you or your loved one.
Contact a personal injury attorney today, and take that first step toward restoring some normalcy to your life.