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Another fatal accident strikes down an elderly pedestrian

New York City continues to lose good people to the carelessness that appears to be in the DNA of many city motorists. The latest fatal accident took the life of a 73-year-old sculptor, teacher and military veteran who was beloved in his upper West Side community. A motorcyclist who may have been speeding struck the victim as he was attempting to cross the street at Amsterdam Avenue and West 96th Street just after 5 p.m. on Jan.14.

The man was taken to St. Luke's Hospital but died the next day. Witnesses and family described "horrific" head injuries and trauma, which may indicate speeding by the motorist. Police are still investigating the accident, but they reportedly indicated that it was not entirely clear whether the pedestrian had the right of way when he was crossing.

That is sometimes a confusing point about the law of negligence and street crossings. If a pedestrian is crossing the street where an oncoming vehicle can see him in the roadway ahead, the vehicle is negligent for not stopping or taking appropriate evasive action. In that context, the right of way is not the key issue. Thus, a person can be several feet or yards outside of a crosswalk when crossing the street, without being primarily at fault in the event of a collision. On a straight roadway, such as in this case, the more relevant issue is likely to be whether the motorist was keeping a safe lookout on the road ahead.

Additionally, if he was speeding, then he was engaging in an infraction that made it significantly more difficult for him to stop for someone walking ahead. That is particularly true at 5 p.m., when dusk sets in at this time of year, providing the worst visibility of the day. Under New York negligence law, the victim is denied a recovery mainly in those cases where he or she steps out suddenly in front of a moving vehicle, giving little time for the driver to stop or react evasively. The answers to these salient questions will help decide the liability issue pertaining to this fatal accident. 

Source:, "Man Killed in W. 96th St. Motorcycle Crash Was Sculptor and Art Professor", Emily Frost, Jan. 18, 2016

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