Pedestrian accidents are an unfortunate reality in New York, especially in more densely populated cities. Every year, approximately 15,000 pedestrians suffer injuries caused by vehicles, with more than 3,000 of them ending up in the hospital.
Considering the vulnerability of a pedestrian, this type of accident may cause devastating physical, emotional, and financial damage, or even pedestrian fatalities. If you or someone you love sustained an injury in a pedestrian-car crash, you may have the opportunity to recover your losses. Through a consultation, an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in New York City can help you figure out your next step.
What Are the Legal Options for a Pedestrian Hit by a Car?
Not all personal injury cases allow for a lawsuit against the responsible party. New York is a no-fault state, which means that an auto accident, including one involving pedestrians, must meet certain qualifications before anyone can file a lawsuit.
No-Fault Insurance in New York
“No-fault state” specifically refers to the minimum requirement of no-fault car insurance. New York, along with 11 other states, requires a form of coverage called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for all registered vehicles operating in the state. PIP covers anyone driving the vehicle, any passenger in the vehicle, and any pedestrian hit by the vehicle.
The payout may apply to:
- A death benefit of $2,000 to any covered individual that dies as a result of the accident
- Medical bills for treatment of injuries deemed reasonable and necessary
- As much as $25 a day for one year following the accident to cover any related expenses, such as household help
- Up to $2,000 a month for up to three years for wages lost
The minimum requirements for car insurance are:
- $50,000 in personal injury protection
- $25,000 per person in liability coverage for bodily injury
- $10,000 liability coverage for property damage
- $50,000 total liability coverage for bodily injury per accident
- Uninsured motorist coverage at the same minimum numbers
No-fault insurance does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. However, you may have the opportunity to recover those damages through a lawsuit as long as your injuries meet the threshold for serious injuries set by the state law. A New York pedestrian accident lawyer can guide you through the complexity of no-fault laws.
Serious Injury Threshold
To meet the serious injury threshold in New York, your injuries must qualify as any one of the following:
- A substantially full disability lasting for 90 days or more out of the first 180 days after the accident
- Significant disfigurement
- Limited use of a body function or system for a significant period of time
- Fractured or broken bones
- Permanent limited use of a body organ or member
If any of your injuries fall under the threshold, you can pursue an action against the party responsible for the accident by either filing a third-party car insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. You then have the opportunity to seek compensation for all your losses, including pain and suffering. Pedestrian accident attorneys understand the process of valuing your claim and can help you quantify non-monetary losses.
Who Is Liable for a Pedestrian Accident?
Many questions arise in the aftermath of a pedestrian accident, and there are several factors that play a part in determining fault. In some cases, both parties, the driver and the pedestrian, hold a percentage of responsibility, and this affects compensation. To understand how the court determines liability, you have to know the expectations for drivers and pedestrians.
Expectations for Drivers and Pedestrians
All auto-accident laws assume that everyone involved should exercise a reasonable level of care by obeying the rules of the road. If a driver violates traffic laws and causes injury to a pedestrian, the driver will be found to be negligent. If the pedestrian fails to act with reasonable care and causes the accident, the pedestrian will be found to be responsible.
Sometimes both the driver and pedestrian share fault, but other factors, such as poor weather conditions, bad road conditions, and defective equipment, affect fault determination. Pedestrian accident attorneys can help you understand how the court determines fault in a personal injury case.
Some Examples of Ways that a Driver Causes a Pedestrian Accident
To prove the driver’s negligence in a pedestrian accident case, you must prove that he or she owed a duty of reasonable care and failed to act accordingly.
Some common examples of ways that a driver may cause a pedestrian accident include:
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Exceeding the posted speed limit
- Ignoring weather or traffic conditions
- Driving while using a cellphone, eating, searching for something in the car, or any other type of distracted driving
- Failing to yield at crosswalks, where pedestrians have the right of way
- Disobeying traffic lights or signs
- Failing to signal when turning
A New York pedestrian accident lawyer may use many different types of evidence to prove negligence. Examples include photographs of the scene and car, surveillance camera footage, and witness statements. Any information that you collected at the scene could be valuable.
Some Examples of Ways That a Pedestrian Can Be at Fault
Pedestrian accident cases typically end in favor of the pedestrian. However, pedestrians also have a duty of reasonable care and must obey traffic laws. Some ways that a pedestrian may bear responsibility in an accident include:
- Jaywalking is the act of crossing the street outside of designated crosswalks and is illegal in New York.
- Walking while distracted may refer to walking while talking on the phone, reading, or texting. Doing any of these while crossing an intersection increases the risk of getting hit and could result in the pedestrian facing the same consequences as someone driving while distracted.
- Disobeying traffic signals includes crossing a crosswalk when the signal clearly states that you cannot.
- Walking while intoxicated includes walking under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you step out into a public area while under the influence of a substance, you are still responsible for your actions.
- Walking somewhere prohibited to pedestrians is similar to jaywalking. In most states, walking along the interstate, highway on and off-ramps, some bridges, and other specific roadways is illegal.
The circumstances surrounding every accident are unique. Pedestrian accident attorneys evaluate each accident situationally to determine whether or not the pedestrian is at fault.
Shared Fault in Pedestrian Car Accident Lawsuits
In cases where both parties bear responsibility for the accident, the comparative fault rule applies. New York car accident law operates under a pure comparative fault rule. This rule dictates how much compensation each party may receive.
How Do You Prove That the Driver Was Negligent?
Police officers, insurance companies, and pedestrian accident attorneys each conduct individual investigations into a case. They may each come to differing conclusions regarding who was negligent in the accident, but they all look at several factors regarding responsibility and potentially reckless behavior. One key factor they consider is whether or not the driver was in violation of any traffic laws when the accident happened. Ultimately, you must prove that the driver breached the duty of reasonable care expected of him or her.
Comparative Fault Model
Once the jury determines whether either one or both of the parties are liable, they must assign the percentage of fault. This rule is the comparative fault model. The comparative fault model states that the percentage of fault that the plaintiff holds in a particular case represents the percentage deducted from the awarded compensation. This rule comes in two forms:
- The modified comparative fault rule states that the plaintiff is no longer eligible for compensation if the jury finds him or her more than 50% responsible for the accident.
- The pure comparative fault rule states that the plaintiff is eligible for compensation regardless of the percentage of fault he or she has in the accident.
New York and 12 other states operate under the rule of pure comparative fault. For example, if the jury awards $200,000 in your case and finds you 20% at fault for the accident, you will receive $40,000 less, making your total compensation $160,000 instead of the $200,000. A New York pedestrian accident lawyer is familiar with the varying potential outcome of cases like yours and will guide you through the process to help you understand the factors affecting your liability.
How Is a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit Valued?
There is no singular equation that determines the value of damages owed to pedestrian accident victims. Every case has multiple variables affecting the value, but there are some general concepts to consider:
- How clear the fault is
- The level of mental and emotional pain the accident caused
- The amount of evidence presented to support the claim
- The impact that the accident had on the victim’s life, including livelihood and general day-to-day activities
- The nature of the injuries that the victim sustained
More severe injuries generally incur greater value because severe injuries require more extensive medical treatment and may even lead to permanent disability.
The Potential Damages From a Pedestrian Accident
Every personal injury lawsuit includes two overarching categories of damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages provide justice to the injured or wronged individual through monetary compensation. The court awards compensation for punitive damages as a punishment for the at-fault party and a deterrent for similar behavior in the future.
There are two types of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. Economic, or special, damages include the quantifiable losses that are more tangible and easily calculated:
- Past and future cost of medical treatment
- Past and future cost of lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damages
- Loss of consortium
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident may include hiring household help or making functional adjustments to your home to accommodate disabilities.
To calculate these damages, you use medical bills, official estimates for future medical treatments, pay stubs, recent tax returns to estimate a future loss of income, repair estimates for any property damages, and any other applicable receipts. Non-economic, or general, damages include
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or mental anguish
- Shortened life expectancy
- Any mental disorders related to the accident, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Non-economic damages are less easily calculated. An experienced New York pedestrian accident lawyer can use past cases, verdicts and settlements to help you place a monetary value on pain and suffering as well as any mental and emotional damages.
Punitive, or exemplary, damages are rarer than compensatory. To recover punitive damages, injured pedestrians must prove that the negligent party participated in particularly egregious action, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or intentionally trying to hit someone with the vehicle. Punitive damages are very rare and are also NOT covered by insurance.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
The abrupt nature of motor vehicle accidents makes it difficult to collect yourself immediately after. This is especially true if you sustain a serious injury. However, if you are physically able, there are a few steps to follow in the wake of your accident that help pedestrian accident attorneys build your case and help you get the support you need:
- Assess your condition for injuries. If you have an injury, call the police or an ambulance for help. The police may call for emergency services, but they also investigate the accident and document it in a report that your attorney or insurance adjuster may reference later.
- If you are able, use the camera on your cellphone to document everything in photographs or video. Video is even better because you can narrate the incident to explain how it unfolded while the details are still fresh in your mind.
- Take notes on anything you can think of about the accident, and write down the names and contact information of everyone involved, including any eyewitnesses. Make sure you get the driver’s license and insurance information from the driver.
- Even if you do not need emergency medical assistance, see a doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes the adrenaline of an accident may mask symptoms of serious injury. Additionally, you need to document your injuries in medical records to help your claim or lawsuit.
- Reach out to a New York pedestrian accident lawyer for a consultation.
The statute of limitations on a pedestrian accident case in New York is three years. That means you have three years from the date of the accident to file your claim or lawsuit, provided that there are no municipalities involved. If a municipality is involved, you claim must be filed in a much shorter period of time (as little as 90 days) so DO NOT DELAY. In addition, insurance adjusters have a reputation for using bad faith tactics to avoid payouts. One of those tactics is to delay resolution to your claim until the statute of limitations runs out. The sooner you get started, the sooner you may claim compensation.
Why Should You Hire a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?
In the aftermath of an accident resulting in serious injury, you face so many devastating losses. You deserve compensation for the losses you incurred due to someone else’s negligence, and you should not have to deal with insurance companies while trying to heal. A New York pedestrian accident lawyer relieves you of many burdens associated with a personal injury lawsuit so that you can focus on physical and mental recovery.
Advantages of Hiring Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
There is no requirement for legal representation in a personal injury case. However, there are many advantages that experienced personal injury attorneys bring to the table:
- They can help you access medical care. Attorneys cannot provide medical advice on procedures or treatments, but they can act as an emergency contact to ensure that they receive a phone call when something happens. They may also know medical professionals that handle cases similar to yours and refer you to them.
- They often work on contingency. Personal injury attorneys know that you seek compensation because you face a huge financial burden. To alleviate some of that burden, most of them do not require upfront fees, and they only get paid when you get paid.
- They can guide you through the complexities of the legal process and help you make better decisions. Mistakes are sometimes costly and may slow you down, but having an attorney to guide you helps you avoid mistakes and get your compensation faster.
- They have seasoned negotiation skills. Personal injury cases rarely make it to court. They often settle outside of court during negotiations. You can negotiate for yourself, but an inexperienced person may struggle to get the insurance adjuster to offer a fair settlement amount.
- They handle all communications with the insurance agency for you. Everyone knows how difficult insurance companies make it to receive payment for even valid claims. They tend to avoid their common bad faith tactics to come to a more fair solution when dealing with a personal injury attorney.
- They provide a professional and objective point of view. Pedestrian accidents are emotional by nature. Making objective decisions in the wake of serious trauma is almost impossible.
- They often offer support in the form of peace of mind. When a personal injury attorney accepts your case, you can be more at ease knowing that your attorney believes you have a solid chance of winning.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or wrongful death from a pedestrian accident, experienced New York pedestrian accident attorneys can help. The attorneys at Sattler Law Group, P.C. commit to your financial recovery and provide the support you need during a difficult time. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact Sattler Law Group PC today for a free consultation.