How the Law Governs Pedestrian Accidents


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), every year, almost 5,000 pedestrians perish in accidents where a motor vehicle is involved. In 2012, as many as 76,000 pedestrians suffered injuries when struck by either a car or a truck.

Besides pedestrian-vehicle incidents, many thousands of pedestrian accidents occur yearly which are non-vehicular related, whereby sidewalk or parking lot defects, poor maintenance, and debris on walkways is to blame.

Irrespective the nature of the injury, pedestrians are at liberty to try to recover damages for injuries that are suffered on account of another person’s negligence when it is considered they have either contributed to or caused the incident.

How the Law Governs Pedestrian Accidents

In a pedestrian-related accident, the injured party – plaintiff – aims to prove that the person at fault – the defendant:

  • Was the cause of the accident or injury
  • As a result of which, the plaintiff was harmed or injured
  • Under the circumstances, owed a legal duty to the plaintiff
  • In one way or another, failed to fulfill (breached) that duty either by way of action or inaction

If a pedestrian succumbs to an injury, more than a single party may bear legal responsibility. Potential liable parties, depending on the circumstances, include:

  • The pedestrian her or himself
  • The party that has the responsibility for the maintenance of the road, sidewalk, or parking lot
  • The driver of the vehicle involved in the accident

Pedestrian-Vehicle Accidents

In general, cases that pertain to pedestrian-vehicle accidents hinge on a duty of care that is owed by the individuals involved. Pedestrians and drivers must exercise reasonable care and follow the rules of the road.

An individual who operates a vehicle in a negligent fashion might be required to pay damages for property damage or personal damage on account of the negligence.

Driver’s Duty of Care

Under the circumstances, drivers must exercise a reasonable level of care. A failure to do so is, by law, considered negligence. Some of the more common factors which are known to contribute to driver negligence include:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Disobeying traffic signals or signs
  • A failure to give right of way at crosswalks to pedestrians
  • A failure to signal while turning
  • Driving when under the influence of drugs or/ and alcohol
  • Disregarding traffic or weather conditions

Children and the Driver’s Special Duty of Care

Minors who are aged between 5 and 9 pose the greatest risk of a vehicle hitting them. Children are not only unpredictable, but are less visible. Thus, the law expects a higher duty of care upon drivers with respect to children.

If there’s a presence of children, it should serve as a warning to drivers that greater care must be exercised.

Pedestrian’s Duty of Care

All pedestrians must demonstrate a reasonable level of care with respect to their own safety. Furthermore, the level of care should be in proportion to reasonably anticipated consequences and to the danger to be avoided.

The assessment of contributory negligence against a pedestrian can occur if they contributed to the cause of their injuries on account of not exercising such care.

A number of the more common factors which contribute to pedestrian negligence include:

  • Entering traffic which disrupts the flow
  • At intersections, ignoring the ‘walk’ signal
  • Running in front of a vehicle
  • The failure to use marked crosswalks

Other Pedestrian Accidents

The legality which underscores premises liability is responsible for a claim for a loss on account of the action of a property owner or possessor, and this includes most non-vehicular related accidents with pedestrians.

In most states, individuals or parties who control land have a duty by law to maintain their property, and this includes the duty to warn people should there be hazards.

In order to recover damages during a premises liability case, it must be proven by the injured party that a dangerous condition existed. This is shown by demonstrating that:

  • The owner was aware of the situation but failed to correct it in a negligent manner
  • The owner was responsible for creating the condition
  • The condition was apparent for a lengthy period of time, in which case, it ought to have been corrected before the incident occurred

If you’ve been the victim in a pedestrian-related accident and you reside in or around New York City, take action and get in touch with a New York City pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as you can.

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