Pedestrian accidents, even in crosswalks, account for a fairly small number of vehicular crashes each year, but can be devastating for the pedestrian involved. Serious injury and fatality is more likely to occur for the pedestrian, who is unprotected against a vehicle, rather than the driver. As a pedestrian, it is important to know how to avoid these kinds of accidents, not only to ensure personal safety but to also reduce responsibility if there is a crash.
One of the best ways to avoid accidents in general is to use clearly marked crosswalks whenever possible. These are usually indicated by solid white lines that stretch from one sidewalk to another across an intersection. There may or may not be traffic signals and stop signs at these crosswalks, but drivers are more likely to be aware of pedestrian traffic in that location than in the middle of a street. Crossing where there is not a crosswalk, called “jaywalking,” is illegal in New York City and typically makes a pedestrian at least partially at fault in an accident.
While using a crosswalk is important, if there is a traffic signal, then it is vital that pedestrians follow the signals accordingly. “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” lights at crosswalks coincide with the lights that indicate when vehicles can proceed through an intersection. By following the instructions on the traffic signals for pedestrians, it is easier to avoid a collision with a driver. Walking against the light can make a pedestrian at fault if there is an accident.
When walking at night, even in a well-lit area and crossing at a crosswalk, it is important for a pedestrian to make sure he or she is visible. Wearing light clothing that reflects light from streetlights and vehicle headlights can help, since dark clothing at night can make a pedestrian very difficult to see. Holding a lit flashlight or wearing clothing designed to be reflective can also increase visibility for drivers at night, and help avoid a crash.
Different states handle responsibility in a vehicle-pedestrian crash differently, but in New York, there is a “pure comparative fault” rule in effect. This means that any damages recovered in a law suit or from an insurance company are reduced by how much responsibility a party hard in the accident.
For example, if a vehicle strikes a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but the pedestrian was crossing against the light, then a jury or judge can rule that the pedestrian was partially responsible for the crash and reduce damages by an amount equal to the pedestrian’s determined liability in the accident. If you or a loved one have been involved in a New York crosswalk accident, call the law offices of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353 to protect your rights and get you the damages you deserve.