A pedestrian accident is an accident involving the collision of a motor vehicle and a person on foot or in a wheelchair, per New York's legal definition of a pedestrian. These accidents are often catastrophic to the pedestrian involved. Cars are large, firm objects that travel at high speed. A driver that fails to take care around pedestrians can cause serious injuries to them, or worse.
A study on pedestrian accidents was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency compiled a fact sheet that reported that over 32,000 traffic fatalities occurred, and of those, roughly 4,800 of them were pedestrians caught in accidents. Accidents that include pedestrians can cause extreme injuries to the pedestrian, and little to no harm to the driver. Many times pedestrians will have the right of way on streets. Drivers that fail to take this into account may be held responsible for the incident in the court of law.
Pedestrian Accident Cases
When a driver carelessly strikes a pedestrian, they may have been negligent in the handling of their vehicle. This may entitle the pedestrian struck to the recovery of compensation for what they have endured. This compensation may be recovered in the form of either a personal injury lawsuit or at times a wrongful death lawsuit.
New York state law makes use of a doctrine of contributory negligence. This means that for accidents that make it to civil court, the law considers the extent to which both parties involved contributed to the accident. This means that even if a defendant is at fault for hitting a pedestrian, the court will consider how much the plaintiff contributed to the situation. Situations such as jaywalking or a person failing to double check before crossing the street can be considered ways in which a plaintiff could have contributed to the accident.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Several things can contribute to a driver striking a pedestrian. Many of these are spurred on by a lack of care for others on the road. Some common contributing factors to a pedestrian accident include:
- Driver Error: Driver error is a broad category of actions that can be attributed to the driver's lack of attentiveness or care in their driving. Driver error can come in the form of failure to notice a pedestrian, turning into a crosswalk before it's time and other actions that display a lack of dedication of attention to one's surroundings. In court, these can be considered negligent acts.
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is the source of a multitude of accidents each year. The most well-known distraction is the act of texting or using the phone while driving.
- Impaired Driving: Impaired driving is known to cause a number of vehicle accidents, but it is also very likely that an impaired driver will be unable to take proper care to avoid any pedestrians. Not only is impaired driving a crime, it can also be considered an act of extreme negligence.
Damages Commonly Seen in Pedestrian Accidents
'Compensatory Damages' is a legal term that refers to monetary compensation intended to return a plaintiff to the position he or she was in had the injury not occurred. These can include:
A staple of any personal injury claim is the demand for the repayment of medical costs associated with the accident. Serious injuries can have high medical costs for treatments such as initial hospital stays as well as follow-up care. In addition, a plaintiff can be compensated for costs associated with a permanent injury or disability. These can include making modifications to a home, like installing a ramp to accommodate a wheelchair.
In the event of a death of a loved one, the surviving family members can make a claim on behalf of the deceased and recoup costs they are required to incur, such as funeral expenses.
Loss of Income/Loss of Earning Capacity
If you have been injured in an auto accident, you may miss a period of work due to necessary medical treatment and requisite follow-up care. Not only is it common to miss work immediately after an accident, but in the case of a serious injury, a victim might not be able to maintain employment in the same position due to the effects of an injury. When this occurs, financial experts may testify and calculate a dollar figure on the loss of earning capacity for the remainder of a victim's life.
The types of losses described above are generally categorized as "economic damages", meaning that their dollar value can be easily calculated. Pain and suffering and mental anguish can be included in damages of this nature.
Unlike the types of damages which fall under the 'compensatory' umbrella, punitive damages do not seek to compensate the plaintiff, but rather to deter a particular type of conduct. These types of damages are rarely awarded; they are reserved for cases in which the defendant's behavior is particularly egregious.
New York state does not limit a plaintiff's right to compensation. This means that there is no "cap" or "ceiling" on the amounts they may claim, however, these damages are subject to comparative negligence. The doctrine of comparative negligence is a partial legal defense that a defendant in a personal injury action may raise. It reduces the amount of damages that a plaintiff can recover, based upon the degree to which the plaintiff's own negligence contributed to the injury. Damages will be reduced based on the plaintiff's contributions to the situation. This is typically measured through a percentage. For example, if the court finds a plaintiff is 20% at fault, a $100,000 damage award would be reduced to $80,000.
New York Personal Injury Attorney
When a person is injured in an accident, medical bills can pile up, coupled with the stress of being unable to work. It may be possible to file a lawsuit in response to these incidents. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a driver's negligence, contact attorney D'Orazio Peterson today.