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Determining Fault in a Car vs. Pedestrian Accident

In a state like New York, being a pedestrian comes with a great amount of risk. Last year, traffic deaths—including those involving people commuting on foot—increased in New York City. Even those living in cities and towns located outside the Big Apple are at risk.

Because pedestrians are afforded much less protection than people in cars (and those responsible enough to wear a helmet while cycling or biking), they are significantly more likely to be catastrophically injured or killed in an accident with a motor vehicle. Therefore, establishing risk is an important component of pedestrian accidents. In the event you have been involved in either side of an accident involving a car and a pedestrian, here is how fault is determined in the state of New York.

Who is Responsible to Pay When a Pedestrian is Hit by a Car?

All pedestrians are expected to uphold a reasonable level of care for their own safety and to follow traffic laws, such as obeying traffic signals and signs.

However, the fault is almost always mostly, if not entirely, with the driver. When a pedestrian is hit by a car in a crosswalk, determining fault is simple because motor vehicles are required to yield to anyone using a crosswalk according to Section 1151 of New York’s Vehicle & Traffic Law Pertaining to Bicycles & Pedestrians.

However, even if a crosswalk wasn’t present when a pedestrian was hit, the driver may be at fault anyway. Pedestrians are typically only at fault if their behavior was grossly negligent and/or the driver who hit them didn’t violate any traffic laws. An example of this would be if someone crosses a street where there are blatant “No Crossing” signs on display. Yet, even in such an instance, the injured pedestrian may still be eligible for some compensation.

If you are a pedestrian, your accident claim will likely be against the driver who hit you. However, if you were struck not because of driver error but due to poor city planning or something like a broken traffic light, you may also have a claim against the municipality where you were injured.

Can a Pedestrian Be at Fault in a Car Accident?

The short answer is yes—but usually only partially so. New York is a comparative negligence state, meaning it determines fault and awards damages based on negligence. In cases where a pedestrian was behaving recklessly or carelessly, they may be found responsible for a percentage of the fault. Let’s take a look at some examples.

If A Drunk Pedestrian Is Hit by a Car, Who Is at Fault?

It depends. This is one way in which shared liability comes into play because there are so many factors that can go into such a pedestrian accident. If a drunk person stumbles into the road and is hit by a driver who was obeying all traffic laws, the fault would fall primarily on the intoxicated pedestrian. If a drunk person is hit by a person who was speeding, the fault would likely fall mostly on the driver. Such pedestrian at-fault car accidents involve so many factors, it may help to speak with a lawyer who can assist you in determining who is liable.

What happens if you hit a pedestrian jaywalking?

Is jaywalking illegal in New York? The answer is yes according to Section 1152 of New York’s Vehicle & Traffic Laws. Yet, jaywalking in New York is nonetheless an incredibly common occurrence. Thus, it is only inevitable that a jaywalking pedestrian will be struck by a vehicle at some point.

So, what happens if you hit a pedestrian jaywalking? Here’s an example of what may occur: If someone jaywalking is struck by a driver who is speeding, it may be determined that the pedestrian was 40% at fault for the accident and the driver was at fault by 60%. In such a situation, the driver would still be responsible for paying damages, but at a lesser rate than if it were 100% their fault.

A lawyer can help you establish liability and protect you against a driver who may claim you were at fault—pedestrian accident attorneys understand the ins and outs of New York State’s traffic laws and can use them to your advantage. Especially if you were partially at fault for the accident, you will definitely want an attorney with settlement negotiation experience by your side.

If you’ve been hit by a motor vehicle in New York and are wondering how to pay your medical bills, contact our pedestrian accident attorneys at Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey today. We can help you hold the at-fault party accountable for your accident and win you the compensation you deserve.

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