New York Pedestrian Accidents: A Primer
Most pedestrian accidents occur outside of marked crosswalks. This context is the background for both the serious injuries and insurance company defenses in these claims.
When a 4,000-plus pound car strikes a 200-plus pound pedestrian, the results are often tragic, especially if the vehicle is traveling fast. So, the damages in these claims are often quite high. These damages include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.
Injuries in New York Pedestrian Accidents
Speed always multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. In a vehicle-on-vehicle crash, vehicle safety systems minimize this effect. But in vehicle-on-pedestrian crashes, the multiplier effect is much worse.
At 20 mph and slower, the pedestrian death rate is less than 10 percent. But if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is traveling 40 mph or faster, the death rate skyrockets to 50 percent. Some of the serious injuries in these crashes include:
- Head Injuries: The sudden, jarring motion of a car crash is often enough to cause a head injury because the brain slams against the skull. When there are additional trauma injuries, and there usually are, the damage is even worse.
- Broken Bones: High-speed impacts usually hurl pedestrians into the air. When they land, their bones are often crushed. As a result, doctors must use metal parts to set the bones and the victims must endure months of painstaking physical therapy.
- Internal Injuries: The aforementioned external injuries usually occupy emergency responders. So, internal bleeding may continue unchecked. As a result, many victims are on the edge of hypovolemic shock before they even arrive at the hospital.
If the tortfeasor was an Uber driver, taxi driver, truck driver, or another commercial operator, the employer may be liable for damages. Additionally, New York has a rather broad dram shop law which holds many commercial alcohol providers liable for damages in alcohol-related crashes.
Insurance Company Defenses in New York Pedestrian Accidents
To obtain compensation for these injuries, the victim/plaintiff must often overcome some insurance company defenses, such as the sudden emergency doctrine. Many tortfeasors insist that the victim “darted out into traffic” and they could not avoid the collision. This line sets up the sudden emergency defense in court. This doctrine has two elements:
- Reasonable Reaction: Most tortfeasors react reasonably to pedestrian crashes. They pull over to the side of the road, render aid to victims if possible, and wait for emergency responders to arrive.
- Unexpected Situation: This prong is much more difficult to establish. In this context, a “sudden emergency” is a tire blow-out, hood fly-up, or other completely unexpected situation. A jaywalking pedestrian, while unusual, is not a completely unexpected situation.
The contributory negligence defense may apply in these claims as well. Distracted driving is a serious problem in New York, and so is distracted walking. If the victim was not paying attention to traffic, the judge may reduce the victim/plaintiff’s damages.
However, the insurance company has the burden of proof on this point. And, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the crash, the victim is still entitled to a proportional share of damages.
Reach Out to a Hard-Hitting Manhattan Attorney
Vehicle-on-pedestrian wrecks are some of the most serious, and most legally complex, types of car crash claims. For a free consultation with a NYC personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg Esq. P.C. Home and hospital visits are available.
In over a decade of legal practice, Attorney Michael Redenburg began his career defending cases for the clients of insurance companies. Initially defending no-fault claims at a Long Island-based law firm, he then moved on to a Manhattan-based firm where he defended the clients of insurance carriers in an auto accident and premises liability matters.