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Understanding pedestrian fault in a car crash

In New York City, pedestrians abound. This requires drivers to remain hyperalert on the road – paying attention not only to other motor vehicles, but also to foot traffic from every direction. In such an environment, collisions are unfortunately common – and usually far more devastating for the pedestrian than the driver.

While it may be easy to blame the driver for such crashes, in terms of liability, it’s important to understand the rules of the road. In today’s post, we examine the issue of determining fault in a crash between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle.

Driver fault

New York traffic law dictates that a driver must yield to any pedestrian when entering the road from a non-roadway – e.g., a driveway or alley. In addition, a driver must yield to any pedestrian who is legally using a marked or unmarked pedestrian crosswalk.

This holds true regardless of whether the pedestrian and driver are entering the same lane. For instance, if a driver makes a right-hand turn at an intersection while a pedestrian enters the same intersection on the opposite side of the road, the driver is in violation of traffic rules. Even though the driver and the pedestrian are in different lanes, they are both occupying the pedestrian crosswalk at the same time – which is illegal.

Pedestrian fault

A pedestrian can be found at fault – or partially at fault – for an accident if the pedestrian breaks traffic laws or exhibits unsafe behavior. Some degree of fault could be proven if a pedestrian:

  • Crosses the street against a traffic light or outside of a crosswalk

  • Walks in an area not designed for pedestrians – such as a highway or bridge

  • Walks into a roadway while intoxicated

In cases of shared fault in an accident, New York adheres to the “pure comparative negligence” rule – in which a percentage of fault is allocated to each party. If the plaintiff is found to be 25% at fault, for instance, then that percentage is deducted from their compensation for damages.

Many factors go into determining fault in a pedestrian-car accident. It’s important to have an experienced personal injury attorney who can effectively advocate on your behalf.

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