The busy traffic in any metropolitan area presents a significant hazard to pedestrians, and New York City is no exception. Pedestrian accidents in New York City account for 72 percent of all incidents in the state, and many of these accidents occur on the city's crosswalks. Find out why these crossings cause so many accidents, and learn more about the legal steps you may need to take if you or a loved one suffers an injury in a crosswalk accident.
Crosswalks allow pedestrians to get around the city quickly and efficiently, but the exposure to traffic increases the risk of a collision with a car. This risk increases further because drivers and pedestrians don't understand what they should do at these crossings.
Pedestrians must obey all signs, pavement markings and traffic control signals when crossing New York streets. You can't take a chance. If the signal doesn't tell you to cross, you should wait.
Similarly, under Vehicle Code 1151, drivers must also observe and follow all signals. Where there is no signal, drivers must yield to pedestrians, especially if he or she is already on the crosswalk. Unfortunately, in a busy city like New York, people can forget or overlook these laws, with disastrous consequences.
No-fault insurance in New York
New York is a no-fault insurance state. As such, if a car or other vehicle hits you on a crosswalk, the driver's insurance company must pay the cost of your medical expenses. After the accident, the driver should give you his or her insurance details to file a claim.
If you don't have these details, you can get a copy of the police report related to the accident. This report will normally include an insurance company code for the vehicle's driver. You can use this to look up the contact information for the insurance company, so you can then request a no-fault claim form.
You should act quickly. In most cases, you only have thirty days from the accident to file the claim. What's more, if a loss adjuster contacts you, you don't need to answer any questions. In fact, it's better to contact an attorney for help, as anything you say to the insurance company could jeopardize any subsequent legal action.
Proving liability in a personal injury case
While the driver's insurance company will pay for your medical expenses, you may still need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover other costs. For example, you may need to cover the cost of lost wages, travel to and from medical appointments, changes in the quality of your life and compensation for the pain and suffering the accident caused.
To successfully claim damages, your attorney must prove that the driver was liable for the accident. In some cases, this is relatively easy. For example, a police officer may cite a motorist for an offense under Vehicle Code 1151, which could clearly show that the driver broke the law.
In other cases, your attorney may find it harder to prove your case, especially if the other driver and the insurance company deny liability. Evidence that your attorney may use could include:
- Eyewitness statements. Did other people see the car driver disregard the rules at the crosswalk?
- Driver distraction. For example, did the driver use his or her mobile phone at the time of the accident?
- Driver history. Does the driver have a history of offenses?
There are often a lot of witnesses to crosswalk accidents because the city's streets are so busy. A skilled attorney can help you track down and interview these witnesses. He or she will also know the questions to ask that can best support your lawsuit.
But act quickly. The Statute of Limitations in New York means that you only have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit from the date the injury occurred.
Thousands of New York pedestrians suffer injuries at crosswalks every year. If you or a loved one needs help to file a personal injury lawsuit, contact a trained attorney, such as those at Welsh & Welsh PC LLO, for more advice