New York City is a pedestrian city; about half of us don’t even own a car. Yet even with public awareness campaigns and laws protecting pedestrians, crosswalk accidents are more frequent than they should be. Each year, New York State sees an average of 15,000 pedestrians injured in vehicle-related accidents. In 2019, NYC saw 121 pedestrian deaths, and during the 2020 pandemic, the number of pedestrian deaths spiked significantly, largely due to careless drivers. Here’s what you need to know about NYC crosswalk accidents, including how they happen, who is responsible, and what recourse you may have.
The Laws Concerning Crosswalks
NYC has specific rules in place regarding how drivers and pedestrians should behave at crosswalks, both marked and unmarked. The main bullet points are below:
- Pedestrians should cross when the “Walk” signal is on.
- When the “Don’t Walk” signal is flashing, pedestrians in the crosswalk should finish crossing, and pedestrians on the other side should wait. No one should cross when the “Don’t Walk” is solid.
- In crosswalks with no “Walk/Don’t Walk” signal, pedestrians should follow traffic laws.
- Pedestrians always have the right-of-way inside crosswalks, even if the “Walk” signal isn’t on and even if the driver has a green light. Drivers should always watch for pedestrians and yield to them.
- In roadways with no crosswalk present, pedestrians yield the right-of-way to vehicles.
How Do Crosswalk Accidents Happen?
Almost invariably, crosswalk accidents happen when either the pedestrian, the driver, or both are not following the rules above. In other words, either a driver was not watching for the pedestrian, or the pedestrian was in a place they shouldn’t have been or weren’t expected to be.
Who Is Liable in Crosswalk Pedestrian Accidents?
Since pedestrians always have the right-of-way inside a crosswalk, the responsibility usually falls to the driver to watch for them and avoid them. The exception might be if the pedestrian was doing something completely unexpected or unanticipated—for example, lunging into traffic so the driver has no chance to react. Even outside of crosswalks, or when a pedestrian isn’t obeying traffic rules, drivers are expected to exercise “due care” in avoiding pedestrians, so if a pedestrian is struck when “due care” could have prevented it, the driver may still bear some responsibility.
All that being said, there are other times when driver liability can be more difficult to prove. For example, if a pedestrian is not in a crosswalk when crossing the street and the situation prevents a driver from exercising due care (e.g., the pedestrian is on a dark street wearing dark clothes), the driver’s liability may be limited. Likewise, if a pedestrian does something that either flagrantly flouts the rules or seems to invite an accident, those factors may be considered.
Getting Compensation for Crosswalk Injuries
Although NYC laws definitely favor pedestrians, that doesn’t mean negligent drivers will automatically be held accountable. If you or someone you love was injured in a crosswalk accident involving a vehicle, your best chance at getting proper compensation for those injuries is to hire a personal injury attorney with experience in pedestrian injury accidents. Our team of attorneys understands the NYC laws protecting pedestrians, and we know how to make sure the people responsible are held accountable. Call our offices to learn more.