• Leitner Varughese

Car Accidents and Pedestrians: Is the Driver Always at Fault?


If you were walking in New York and you were struck by a motor vehicle, you might be assuming that the motorist is at fault and that you can file a car accident lawsuit against that driver. While automobile drivers frequently are responsible for pedestrian injuries in traffic collisions, it is important for injured pedestrians to remember that distracted walking and other dangerous pedestrian behaviors can also contribute to causation in a motor vehicle crash. If you do file a lawsuit against the driver and that driver raises the defense of comparative fault, you could see your damages award reduced significantly if the court believes that you, as a pedestrian, are also partially to blame for the collision.

With this information in mind, what do you need to know about filing a motor vehicle crash lawsuit to seek compensation for pedestrian injuries?

Drivers Frequently Responsible for Collisions Involving Pedestrians

Motor vehicle drivers frequently are at fault for collisions that involve pedestrians and that result in pedestrian injuries. According to the New York Department of Health, there are an average of 300 pedestrian deaths every year in motor vehicle collisions, which means that approximately 1.6 out of every 100,000 New Yorkers are killed in accidents each year. Beyond fatal injuries, pedestrians also frequently sustain nonfatal yet serious injuries in collisions with cars. On average, more than 3,000 pedestrians are hospitalized every year as a result of car accident injuries, and more than 12,500 pedestrians, on average, seek treatment in emergency departments for traffic-related injuries.

In many of these serious and deadly accidents, the motor vehicle driver is at fault for the collision. Driver error such as distracted driving, aggressive driving, intoxicated driving, or drowsy driving frequently are to blame. Yet in some motor vehicle collisions that result in pedestrian injuries, the pedestrian might also be at fault, or at least partially to blame.

When is a Pedestrian Responsible for a Motor Vehicle Collision?

There are a variety of scenarios in which a pedestrian might be responsible—or at least partially at fault—for a collision with a car or truck. Some examples include the following:

● Pedestrian crosses the street against a “Do Not Walk” sign;

● Pedestrian steps or stumbles out suddenly into high-speed traffic; or

● Pedestrian is struck by a vehicle on a type of road that is not designed for pedestrian use (such as a highway or ramp).

These are just a few examples of situations in which a plaintiff could be partially or fully responsible for injuries in a collision involving a motor vehicle. Under New York contributory negligence law, pedestrians who are partially at fault for an accident in which the car driver is also at fault still may be able to recover damages. As long as the pedestrian is not 100% at fault, the pedestrian may be able to seek damages for serious injuries by suing the auto driver. However, the pedestrian’s damages award will be reduced by that pedestrian’s own portion of fault.

Contact a New York Auto Accident Lawyer

If you have questions about filing a claim for financial compensation after a pedestrian accident, you should seek advice from one of our New York auto accident lawyers about filing a lawsuit against the driver. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC for more information.




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