Manhattan Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
A three-year-old boy in a stroller and his mother were struck by a pickup truck driven by an unlicensed driver in Harlem. The child died of his injuries. He was the third three-year-old and the sixth child under the age of 11 fatally struck in the New York City area in the span of 12 months. The mother was not seriously injured. The accident occurred when the 59-year-old motorist—from Yonkers—made a left turn onto First Avenue from 116th Street, allegedly striking the mother and child while they were in the crosswalk.
Shortly after the accident, the driver was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to yield, and failure to exercise due care. The charges were relatively rare for Manhattan, where the district attorney charges only a handful of drivers involved in the thousands of accidents that happen there each year.
Types of Pedestrian Accidents
A pedestrian accident can happen on any roadway and at any time of the day. Though many factors contribute to these accidents, just a few scenarios represent the bulk of accidents, including:
- Dart outs: Dart out accidents involve a pedestrian running into the road unexpectedly, often from between cars. This often occurs when inattentive motorists driving through neighborhoods fail to notice a child chasing a ball into the roadway.
- Turning vehicle: This type of accident involves a motorist making a turn and striking a pedestrian crossing the street, often in a crosswalk.
- Backing accidents: The motorist fails to see the pedestrian when backing up.
- Entrapment: The pedestrian is partially across the road when the light changes and traffic begins moving forward.
What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?
Pedestrian accidents occur because of:
- Distracted driving – Driver distractions are a major cause of all types of motor vehicle accidents. A driver distraction is anything that draws the driver’s eyes from the road, hands from the wheel, or mind from the task of driving. Common driver distractions include texting and other cell phone use, eating or drinking, talking to other occupants in the vehicle, adjusting vehicle or stereo controls, and external distractions such as billboards, people in other cars, or even previous accidents.
- Alcohol impairment – The NHTSA reports that 47 percent of pedestrian crashes involve either an alcohol-impaired driver or an alcohol-impaired pedestrian. Alcohol impairs the skills the driver needs for the safe operation of a motor vehicle. For pedestrians, alcohol impairment clouds good judgment and also makes it difficult for the individual to track moving objects, a skill needed to determine whether there is a significant gap in traffic to cross a roadway outside of an intersection.
- Speeding – Driving too fast for the conditions of the road is not only a traffic violation that can result in a ticket, but also a major danger for pedestrians. Speeding reduces the amount of time you have to perceive and react to hazards in the roadway—such as a person walking across the street—while increasing the amount of space your vehicle needs to come to a safe stop.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way – Pedestrians have the right-of-way in the crosswalk. Failing to stop at intersections is a leading cause of pedestrian accidents.
- Lack of visibility – Most pedestrian accidents happen at night when it is harder to see a person walking on the roadway.
- Inclement weather – Bad weather does not only inhibits drivers’ ability to see pedestrians by reducing visibility, but also may make the road surface slick, making it harder for drivers to come to a safe stop—especially when they don’t account for the weather.
- Left-hand turns – Turning drivers are one of the biggest hazards that a pedestrian can face as they are often focused on completing their turn and not on whether someone is in the crosswalk. Left-hand turns are particularly hazardous as the driver is often required to pay even closer attention to the traffic in opposing travel lanes while crossing through the intersection.
- Blind spots – All vehicles have a blind spot toward the rear and side of the car. These are areas that the driver cannot see by simply glancing in the side or rearview mirrors. Many pedestrian accidents have occurred due to someone not checking their blind spots before backing out of a driveway or a parking space.
- Hybrid vehicles – Certain vehicles, particularly hybrids, are quiet when running, taking away one of the pedestrian’s most powerful tools for self-protection: the ability to hear oncoming traffic.
- Multi-vehicle crashes – While the majority of pedestrian accidents involved only one vehicle striking the pedestrian, multi-vehicle crashes can also be dangerous for pedestrians as they involve vehicles that may be spinning or flipping out of control into areas such as sidewalks or parks where pedestrians are standing or walking.
Types of Injuries Caused by Pedestrian Accidents
When it comes to pedestrian accidents, the severity and the location of the injuries sustained depends largely on two factors:
- How tall was the person who was hit? The size of the person determines where the impact of the bumper would be on the body. This is the point where the most serious injuries would be.
- How fast was the vehicle traveling when it hit the person? The speed of the vehicle determines how hard the collision was and increases the likelihood that the individual will be thrown up onto the hood or thrown through the air, both of which raise the risk of traumatic head injuries.
Head injuries are one of the most common—and often the most severe—of the injuries caused when a person is hit by a car. They are the leading injury in accidents involving child pedestrians, and the second most common injury for adults. Some other injuries often sustained in motor vehicle accidents are:
- Musculoskeletal injuries to the legs and knees. These are the most common type of injuries sustained in an accident involving an adult pedestrian.
- Chest and abdominal injuries. Internal injuries caused by the impact of the vehicle against the body or by fractured ribs due to the vehicle’s impact are not uncommon. The chest and abdomen are the third most common area of the body to suffer injury in a pedestrian accident.
- Pelvis injuries. Injuries to the pelvic area are common in pedestrian accidents due to the height of the bumper of many vehicles being located in that area on many people. The bumper is generally the first part of the vehicle to make contact with the pedestrian, and therefore the site of the body suffering the greatest amount of injury.
- Neck injuries, which are most common in children. Spinal cord injuries to the cervical (neck) area are among the most devastating injuries to have as they may result in tetraplegia, which is the loss of function and sensation to all of the limbs and the torso. Many individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries in the neck area are unable to breathe on their own due to permanent damage caused by the injury.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Nearly 19.5 million people live in New York State, and almost half of those live in one of the five Boroughs of New York City. Sometimes, it can feel like all of those people crowd Manhattan streets and sidewalks at once, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Pedestrian hustle-and-bustle gives Manhattan its unique, exciting energy. Unfortunately, however, it also makes for an environment in which pedestrians get hurt in collisions with motorists and cyclists.
The New York Department of Health reports that on average there are 12,506 emergency department visits related to pedestrian accidents each year. A sizable portion of those preventable incidents happen in Manhattan, and many—perhaps most—of those injured pedestrians have legal rights to seek compensation for their injuries.
Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about pedestrian accident injuries in Manhattan and throughout New York City. To learn more about your rights, in particular, contact an experienced local pedestrian accident attorney today.
What should I do if I was injured in a pedestrian accident?
Nobody expects to get hurt in a pedestrian accident. We assume that if we look both ways, pay attention, and mind the laws, walking constitutes a safe way to get around town. For the most part, that’s true. However, because New Yorkers rarely plan for pedestrian accidents, when an accident does happen, most people don’t know what to do.
So, what three steps do you need to take after an accident?
- Remain at the scene: This one should come as no surprise. If a vehicle or cyclist hits you as a pedestrian, it’s never a good idea to just get up and leave. You may have sustained serious injuries that do not show symptoms immediately. Plus, getting up and moving around can affect your legal rights. Stay put and wait for emergency responders to arrive.
- Get medical help: Don’t think twice about it—go to the doctor. If you can, have someone else take you or ride in an ambulance. Across the state, pedestrian accidents result in over 3,000 hospitalizations each year. The sort of major trauma typical of a pedestrian accident constitutes a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones.
- Contact an attorney: As soon as your health has stabilized, contact an experienced Manhattan pedestrian accident injury attorney. You may have rights to significant amounts of compensation if you act quickly.
Does it matter if I wasn’t in a crosswalk at the time of the accident?
Yes and no. Traffic laws say that pedestrians should only cross streets at crosswalks. So, a defense lawyer or insurance company might try to hold that against you. However, let’s keep it real. This is New York City. We treat crossing in the middle of the block as our God-given right. Manhattan drivers know that, and so, they have no excuse for failing to remain alert and to stop for jaywalkers. Bottom line: do not skip speaking with an attorney just because your pedestrian accident happened outside of a crosswalk. You may still have the right to compensation.
Who pays for my injuries?
That’s a complicated question to answer. As a basic proposition, your medical expenses belong to you. Most people carry some form of insurance to pay those expenses. If you own a car registered in New York State, for instance, then you carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that likely covers you as a pedestrian who gets hit by a car. Many New Yorkers also carry health insurance that also covers pedestrian accident-related medical expenses.
Still, insurance does not cover everything, and you should not have to shoulder non-covered expenses from an accident that was not your fault. In most cases, New York law entitles persons harmed by someone else’s dangerous decisions or careless actions to seek compensation from the bad actor through a personal injury lawsuit.
What might a personal injury lawsuit cover?
Pedestrian accidents can cause serious physical, emotional, and financial harm. A personal injury lawsuit seeks to recover compensation for that harm, including for:
- Medical bills: In a collision between a car or truck and a pedestrian, the pedestrian lacks much—if any—protection from serious harm. Pedestrian accidents frequently inflict serious, life-threatening injuries that require hospitalization and long-term medical treatment. A personal injury claim seeks reimbursement for the costs of necessary past and future medical care resulting from the accident, including the cost of office visits, surgeries, medicine (both over-the-counter and prescription), medical devices (e.g. casts, TENS units, crutches), mental health services, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages: Pedestrian accidents often inflict severe injuries that prevent the victim from returning to work temporarily, or even permanently. Wages and benefits the injured pedestrian loses because of that time-off and/or inability to return to work represent costs for which a personal injury lawsuit can seek compensation.
- Pain and suffering: A pedestrian accident causes lasting physical and emotional trauma. A personal injury lawsuit will often seek compensation for that physical discomfort and emotional difficulty.
- Loss of life enjoyment/damage to personal relationships: Traumatic injuries can make it painful or impossible to participate in day-to-day activities, and can put significant strain on personal relationships. Through a personal injury lawsuit, an injured pedestrian can seek money damages for the life-changing impacts of those injuries.
- Wrongful death: Unfortunately, many pedestrian accidents result in fatalities. In the event of a death, the victim’s family may have cause to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages that may include medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and funeral and burial costs.
The right to seek compensation for physical, emotional, and financial injuries applies to virtually all pedestrians in Manhattan. If the pedestrian is a minor, the child’s parent or guardian can file a suit on their behalf. If the parents do not file a suit, the state will generally toll (pause) the statute of limitations to file a case until the child turns 18.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
New York’s personal injury statute of limitations establishes a three-year time limit for making a legal claim after a pedestrian accident. An injured pedestrian who fails to take legal action within this three-year window of time risks losing rights to compensation. The rule comes with a few exceptions, however, such as when the victim was a minor (see above).
We encourage anyone injured in a Manhattan pedestrian accident to seek legal advice right away. Do not wait two years and 11 months to speak with an attorney—the evidence and witnesses you need to prevail in your case can vanish long before the statute of limitations approaches. Talk to a lawyer today to learn about your rights to compensation.
Do I really need an attorney?
Yes, you really need an attorney. Trying to represent yourself is always a terrible, money-losing idea. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about doing it.
The services of an experienced Manhattan pedestrian accident injury will typically cost you little-to-nothing out of your own pocket while the case is pending. Personal injury lawyers represent clients on a contingency fee basis, in which they work for a percentage of any recovery they achieve on the client’s behalf. In other words, the attorney does not get paid unless you get paid.
How can an attorney help?
Experienced Manhattan pedestrian accident injury attorneys typically provide a wide range of services for their clients, focused on ensuring that the client receives maximum compensation for injuries sustained because of someone else’s wrongful action.
Every case differs in its details, of course, so the specific roles the attorney might fill can vary from client-to-client, but in general, a lawyer may:
- Gather and analyze evidence: The first step in obtaining compensation for an injured client is, usually, to figure out what happened. A lawyer often wants to know not just what happened at the moment of impact, but also about the chain of events that led up to a pedestrian accident, and about the harm that the accident has caused the client. This investigation serves the purpose, among other things, identifying all parties who may have a legal liability for the pedestrian accident, and quantifying the amount of harm the client has suffered (so that the attorney knows how much money to demand as compensation).
- Negotiate with legally liable parties: Armed with information about who has a legal liability and what they should pay to an injured pedestrian accident victim, the next step for Manhattan personal injury attorneys frequently involves entering into negotiations with representatives of the legally-liable parties. The goal of these negotiations, typically, is to achieve a settlement in which the injured client releases the parties from liability in exchange for compensation. In many, but not necessarily all, pedestrian accident injury cases, the attorney for the injured victim negotiates directly with the liability insurance carrier for the liable party or the party’s defense attorney. These negotiations can become complex if, for example, more than one party has liability or more than one liability insurance policy covers the incident and the injured client’s injuries.
- Go to court: Most Manhattan pedestrian accident injury cases reach a resolution through a negotiated settlement, at some point. Achieving that agreement, however, often requires putting pressure on the legally-liable parties by filing a civil action in New York courts seeking damages for the victim’s injuries. Sometimes, however, even that extra pressure does not push the legally-liable parties to offer a fair and reasonable settlement. In those cases, the attorney may advise the injured client that the best course of action consists of pressing forward in court by presenting the case to a Manhattan judge and jury.
These are just a few of the tasks an experienced Manhattan pedestrian accident injury attorney may perform for a client, of course. To learn more about how a lawyer can help you, contact one today.
Can I do anything to strengthen my case or protect my rights?
Yes. First and foremost, take care of yourself. As we said above, seek medical attention immediately after a Manhattan pedestrian accident (whether or not you feel injured), and follow a doctor’s advice without fail until you have reached your best possible recovery. This protects your health, and also protects your legal rights by creating important records of the link between your pedestrian accident and your injuries, and of your efforts to heal as best you can.
Next, save any documents or records you receive from doctors or insurance companies. Also hold on to any receipts for expenses—big or small—that you incur as a result of your injuries. This includes, for example, receipts for over-the-counter medication, invoices for services you had to hire to take care of basic day-to-day needs while you recovered (such as house cleaning or child care), even the cost of take-out meals because you couldn’t cook for yourself. These documents may prove useful in a later legal action by proving the full extent of your financial injuries.
Finally, do not agree to any settlement without first speaking with our experienced Manhattan personal injury attorneys. Do not sign anything. Do not shake hands on anything. Do not accept any money or in-kind payment (such as free goods or services). Never believe anyone who tells you that you can take care of things without getting lawyers involved. The only person that sort of settlement helps is whoever tries to convince you to do it. They are trying to take advantage of you, plain and simple.
As a Manhattan pedestrian accident victim, you have valuable legal rights. Do not put them at risk by agreeing to anything without first speaking with a lawyer.
Who Is Most Likely to Suffer Pedestrian Accidents?
NHTSA reporting offers a glimpse of who is most likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents, as well as where and when these accidents are most likely to occur. The details are as follows:
- 80 percent of pedestrian accidents take place in cities, as opposed to 20 percent occurring in rural locations. New York City had the third highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the nation in 2017, behind only Los Angeles and Phoenix, but the lowest fatality rate per 100,000 population.
- 73 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents did not take place at an intersection. 9 percent of these accidents occurred off of the roadway, in parking lots, on the shoulder of the road, on sidewalks, driveway accesses, or shared use trails.
- Three-quarters of pedestrian accidents take place during the hours of darkness. One-fifth of the accidents occurred in daylight.
- More than 40 percent of the pedestrians killed in accidents involving motor vehicles are between the ages of 50 and 59. Another nearly 20 percent involve individuals who are 65 and older. The average age of a pedestrian killed in a traffic accident is 47.
- 19 percent of the children under 14 years old who are killed in traffic accidents are pedestrians.
- 70 percent of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents are male.
- Males aged 80 and older have the highest pedestrian fatality rate.
Preventing Pedestrian Accidents
Most pedestrian accidents are preventable. However, staying safe requires effort from both pedestrians and motorists alike. Some of the ways you can prevent pedestrian accidents include:
- Look for pedestrians everywhere, recognizing that they may not be where you expect them to be and it may be hard to see them.
- Always stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, whether they have a walk signal or not.
- Do not pass vehicles when they are stopped at a crosswalk. In all likelihood, the reason they’re stopped is to allow a pedestrian to cross.
- Do not pass school buses that are stopped with flashing lights and their stop sign extended. It’s illegal, and children and families may cross the road at that time.
- Don’t forget to look for pedestrians in a crosswalk when making a turn. Many times, drivers are busy focusing on completing their turn and what other motor vehicle traffic is doing. Meanwhile, pedestrians are looking forward as they cross through the crosswalk and not paying attention to turning drivers.
- Never drive while impaired as it hampers your ability to see pedestrians and judge distance and causes difficulty with your ability to brake or steer your vehicle appropriately.
- Stay focused and slow down where children are present, such as near schools, parks, and neighborhoods.
- Walk on the sidewalk or path if possible. If there is no sidewalk or path available, walk on the left-hand shoulder of the road, facing traffic.
- Avoid using headphones or becoming distracted by technology, as these items limit your hearing and awareness of what is going on around you.
- Never assume that a driver sees you. Attempt to establish eye contact with the driver before stepping out into the roadway.
- Cross streets at intersections and in crosswalks whenever possible, as these are the places where the driver is most likely to anticipate seeing you.
- If there is no crosswalk available, cross the street in a well-lit area only after waiting for a gap in traffic in which it is safe to do so.
- As visibility is a major problem with pedestrians at night, be sure to wear bright clothing made of reflective materials and use a flashlight or wearable strobe light.
- Avoid alcohol when walking, as it impairs your judgment and your coordination.
Call Our Manhattan Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Now if a Driver Injured You
If you were injured as a pedestrian in Manhattan, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Let the Manhattan pedestrian accident lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, explain the process to you. Contact us or phone us at (212) 445-7000 for a free case evaluation with our experienced Manhattan pedestrian accident lawyers.
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