There are so many benefits to walking. Being a pedestrian has become more popular as people are increasingly conscious of the health benefits of walking and the eco-friendly considerations of using less of the planet’s resources.
While New York City is only one small part of New York State, it has been ranked one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the world. In fact, Insider.com named NYC as one of 14 cities that are better for pedestrians than for people with cars — along with Venice, San Francisco, Paris, Madrid, Philadelphia, Boston and others.
New York City isn’t the only walkable community, though. Walk Score, an organization whose mission is to promote walkable neighborhoods, offers a ranking of the 111 largest cities and towns in New York State by walkability.
Here are the top 10 New York cities by their walk score:
Source: Walk Score
However, as more people become pedestrians, there’s more potential for traffic accidents.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released 2018 data on pedestrian traffic fatalities. Interestingly, the rate of pedestrian fatalities steadily decreased from 1990 to 2009, but has increased steadily since then.
Source: GHSA Spotlight on Traffic Safety
Statistics don’t tell the whole story, though.
Although New York State has a high number of pedestrian fatalities, part of the reason is that it has a higher population than many states, and therefore more pedestrians. In fact, during that same time period, New York state had only 0.60 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population. By fatality rate (pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population), New York ranked 32nd in the nation.
Don’t let the statistics deter you from walking. There are laws designed to protect pedestrians, and you can be proactive by knowing the laws and following safe practices.
The following are New York laws that apply to pedestrians:
In addition to each of the rules listed above, New York law provides that a driver must provide due care to pedestrians:
Everyone is a pedestrian at some time... whether it’s walking from the parking lot to a place of business, walking your dog, or any other time you’re on foot where cars are driven.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers these tips to keep yourself safe:
The purpose of the tort law system (which applies for most personal injuries) is to make a plaintiff whole again. Put simply, if you were injured, you need to prove that a person or entity was negligent, that their negligence caused you harm, and that the harm cost you money.
Everyone has a duty to the people around them — even those they’ve never met. If you’re a driver, you have a duty of care to anyone who shares the road, whether it’s other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, or domestic animals (pets). As a pedestrian, you also have a duty of care not to cause an accident with other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
A driver can be negligent in any number of ways, but here are a few common examples where a negligent driver could cause injury to a pedestrian:
Many people believe that a driver always must yield to a pedestrian, but a pedestrian also has a responsibility to follow the rules. New York is a comparative negligence state, which means an injured plaintiff can also be assigned a percentage of liability for the accident.
Here’s an example:
A pedestrian can be injured in other ways than being hit by a car. If you were injured because of a cracked sidewalk, broken steps, icy surface, or other hazardous condition, you might have a premises liability claim.
A premises liability claim in New York relies on these elements:
If you fell on private property, you’d need to find out who is the owner and who was responsible for maintenance.
If you fell on a town, city, or county sidewalk (or in a parking lot or any other public place), consult a personal injury lawyer. Rules for claims against a government agency are different from those for claims against a private person or agency.
If you were injured by a vehicle as a pedestrian, you can make a claim against the driver’s automotive insurance policy just as you would if you were both driving cars.
Your own health insurance might cover medical treatments for injuries suffered in a pedestrian accident, but it won’t cover expenses like lost wages or emotional distress (i.e. pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and related losses).
The driver is required to file a report to the DMV in New York if there’s any fatality, injury, or property damage that exceeds $1,000. If there’s a police report at the scene, it’s automatically filed to the DMV.
The damages you can recover include compensation for the following expenses:
If you’re injured by a car as a pedestrian, then you should take similar steps as you would following a car-to-car collision.
If you’re badly hurt and can’t move, walk, are bleeding, or feel like you’ve sustained a head injury or broken bones, call an ambulance (or ask someone else to call one for you).
Even if you think your injuries are minor, it’s still a good idea to be checked out by a first responder. Any collision with an injury warrants a 911 call. An emergency medical technician (EMT) who responds to the scene can advise whether you should go to a hospital. If your injuries can be treated at the scene, it’s important that the EMT or police provide you with documentation of the treatment you received.
Some injuries might not appear immediately — and if you have a concussion or other brain trauma, you might not be able to self-diagnose that. In addition, even a minor accident can leave the victim feeling shaken or in shock. You might not be able to make the best judgments at the moment. Shock can also affect the body’s ability to experience pain. There could be parts of your body that were seriously injured, but your brain might not be registering pain.
Aside from ensuring your health and physical condition, a medical examination is crucial if you’re going to need to pursue a personal injury claim. If you do have symptoms or injuries that appear days or weeks after a pedestrian accident, it’s much harder (or impossible) to prove that they’re the result of the accident. If you can’t prove that they were caused by the accident, you can’t recover damages for related treatment or other expenses.
This step should be taken only if you’re physically capable of doing so. Your first priority is getting the medical assistance you need. But if you’re able to gather information safely and without further injuring yourself, it can help your claim or personal injury lawsuit later.
You’ll want to get the following information:
You don’t have to discuss with the driver who was at fault or how the accident happened — in fact, it’s best if you don’t say anything at all. The police report will include some of that information, but a detailed account of the accident is best saved for when you consult with your personal injury lawyer.
Witnesses might be hard to find in some cases. Any pedestrian or driver who observed the collision can be a witness. But if you’re near homes or businesses, there might be people who you can’t immediately see who also might have observed something about the incident that becomes important as part of your claim. It’s worth approaching nearby homes or businesses to ask whether anyone witnessed the accident.
With the prevalence of surveillance cameras today, it’s also worth asking if any residence or business nearby might have captured video footage of the accident. Ask this question as soon as possible after the accident because most surveillance video is only preserved for a short time before it’s erased forever.
If you can locate witnesses, obtain their names, addresses, email, and phone number. It’s important that your lawyer follow up with witnesses as soon as possible before memory fades or they become unavailable.
Once your medical condition is stable, it’s time to begin to think about how you’re going to pursue a claim.
That means you can file a claim any time within 3 years of the date of the accident or injury. However, sooner is better. For one thing, if you’re already paying medical bills or have lost income, the sooner the claim can be settled, the sooner you can receive money to cover those expenses.
Second, memories fade over time. Even your own memory might play tricks on you over the course of weeks, months, or years. And for a witness, memory can fade even faster because they’re not directly involved. It’s important to begin a claim as soon as you can in order to have the most accurate and provable evidence.
If you’ve made a claim against the driver’s insurance company and the settlement amount offered to you isn’t what you expected or believe you deserve, then it’s time to find a personal injury lawyer near you. Especially if your injuries are severe or will require ongoing treatment, a lawyer can ensure that you’re receiving the compensation you need to cover your costs.
The Enjuris lawyer directory is a no-cost resource for finding a New York personal injury lawyer who’s experienced and compassionate. A lawyer has access to financial and medical experts who will assess exactly what your current and future costs will be and work toward reaching the financial compensation you deserve.