Ask A New York Sidewalk Accident Lawyer Answers: What Do Pedestrians Need to Know?

sidewalk Accident in New York

Despite significant auto safety improvements in recent years, traffic accidents hurt and kill people across the U.S. every day. According to The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, nearly 43,000 people died in fatal car crashes in 2021 alone.

As any NYC sidewalk accident lawyer knows, however, the most vulnerable people in a car accident are pedestrians. Unlike the drivers and passengers of motor vehicles, pedestrians don’t have the advantage of seat belts, airbags, or side impact bars. As a consequence, pedestrians may sustain catastrophic injuries in an automobile accident.

How can pedestrians protect themselves on the road? What are your options if you are involved in a sidewalk accident related to a nearby construction site? This post covers what you need to know as a pedestrian on the streets of New York.

3 Safety Tips for Pedestrians in NYC

According to the New York State Department of Health, approximately 300 pedestrians die, 3,000 are hospitalized, and 15,000 are injured by motor vehicles each year in New York State. To keep yourself safe while walking in New York City, consider the following pedestrian safety tips.

1. Follow the Rules of the Road

While you may be tempted to jaywalk or to cross against a flashing red pedestrian light, traffic laws can help keep you safe — especially in a busy city like New York. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey traffic signals and street signs.

If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, find a well-lit area where you have a good view of oncoming traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that gives you enough time to cross safely. Note that New York prohibits pedestrians from walking on expressways or interstates. 

2. Use Sidewalks

Walk on sidewalks whenever you have the option. In fact, pedestrians in New York must use sidewalks when available. When a pedestrian is on a sidewalk, vehicles entering or exiting from an alley, driveway, building, driveway, or private road must yield the right of way. If you are on a road with no sidewalk, remember to walk facing traffic and as far away from vehicles as possible. 

3. Stay Alert

Have you heard of defensive driving? Defensive walking can help protect you from traffic injuries as well. When crossing the street, look for cars in all directions. Pay special attention to vehicles that may be turning left, turning right, or making a U-turn. Watch for driveways or unmarked roads where cars may enter or exit traffic.

Sometimes pedestrians let their defenses drop when not on a busy road. Keep an eye open for cars turning into parking lots or backing out of parking spaces. Just like while driving, intoxication while walking can cloud your judgment and impair your reflexes. Try to avoid drugs and alcohol when you have to travel on foot. 

Take extra care when crossing streets in bad weather conditions, as drivers may have trouble seeing you or need additional time to stop.

Pedestrian Laws in New York

In addition to obeying traffic signals, signs, and pavement markings, pedestrians in the city of New York should also know who has the right of way in any given situation.

In most instances and locations in New York, the pedestrian has the right of way. These include the following:

  • When in a crosswalk 
  • When there is no traffic control signal 
  • When using a cane or accompanied by a guide dog in an intersection or on a crosswalk
  • When on a sidewalk 

You may assume that pedestrians have the right of way at all times. However, there are some restrictions on this right. New York law does not allow people to walk in the street when doing so would endanger motorists.

For example, you cannot step off a curb when it is impractical for drivers to yield. That said, drivers should always slow their vehicles or take other measures to avoid hitting pedestrians in the roadway. 

Dangers to Pedestrians in New York You Should Know

While motorists are typically the primary hazard to pedestrians, stay alert for other dangerous conditions that could cause you to fall into traffic or otherwise sustain an injury:

  • Sidewalk defects such as broken concrete or uneven surfaces
  • Unsafe conditions caused by rain, snow, sleet, or ice 
  • Loose debris like gravel, dirt, or sidewalk pieces that make the walking surface unstable
  • Open, unbarricaded maintenance covers for gas, water, sewer, or the subway
  • Bicyclists riding on the sidewalk
  • Uncovered holes, equipment clutter, or falling objects at construction sites

What Compensation Is Available for Pedestrians After a Sidewalk Accident?

Manhattan Sidewalk Accident Lawyers

Serious injuries due to a pedestrian accident can negatively impact all areas of your life. You may be unable to perform some of your daily activities, you may not enjoy life as you once did, you may have to change jobs, or you may not even be able to work at all. 

If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may qualify for compensation for your injury. Compensation in personal injury cases in New York often includes economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover quantifiable losses, including the following:

  • Medical expenses, including emergency services, doctors’ visits, medical treatment, hospital stays, long-term rehabilitation, and more
  • Lost wages from time you missed at work
  • Future lost earnings if you are unable to continue in your job

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages cover losses that are less tangible, but may still strongly affect your daily life. These include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional conditions, including anxiety, depression, or PTSD
  • Diminished quality of life 
  • Long-term disability 
  • Loss of consortium for spouses

How an NYC Sidewalk Accident Lawyer Can Help

If you were hurt as a pedestrian in a car crash or other sidewalk accident, an experienced attorney can help protect your rights in the aftermath. Sidewalk accident lawyers can assist you with the following:

  • Determining which parties may have legal liability for your injuries
  • Filing court documents within the statute of limitations
  • Gathering evidence for your case
  • Communicating with insurance companies and city inspectors
  • Negotiating a fair settlement for your injuries
  • Representing you in court if your case goes to trial

Hurt in an Accident? Contact a Sidewalk Accident Attorney in NYC

If you were injured while walking in New York City, you may be searching for a sidewalk accident lawyer in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or Manhattan. Let the experienced law firm of Ross & Hill help. We have over 40 years of experience representing accident victims in the NYC area and filing sidewalk accident claims.

We can help you protect your rights and pursue compensation if you have experienced lost wages, mounting medical bills, and pain and suffering. Call us today at 718-855-2324 for a free consultation.

Do pedestrians or bicyclists in NYC have the right of way?

Pedestrians have the right of way in New York City. Bicyclists should not ride on sidewalks unless they are aged 12 or younger. 

Which is the most dangerous borough for pedestrians in NYC?

Manhattan is the most dangerous borough for pedestrians in NYC. Manhattan has four times as many pedestrians killed or severely injured per street mile compared to the other four boroughs, according to the New York City Department of Transportation.

Is NYC safe for pedestrians?

New York City is safe for pedestrians, but accidents do still occur. The New York City Department of Transportation reports that New York City’s traffic fatality rate is about a quarter of the national rate. However, pedestrians account for over half of those traffic fatalities. Contact a sidewalk accident lawyer if you suffered an injury while walking in New York City.

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