Some of the most catastrophic injuries that a human can suffer come as a result of something as simple as crossing the street. Millions of New Yorkers cross busy city streets as pedestrian’s everyday on their way to work, school, etc. Few people think about what their rights are as pedestrians if they were to be hit by a motor vehicle while crossing the street. The following is a very brief legal synopsis of what your rights and duties are as a pedestrian while crossing the street in New York. Please do not use this post as an all-encompassing report on the law, if you are injured please contact an attorney immediately to assess your rights and the potential for legal action.
First, the most important factor that determines your rights and liabilities as a pedestrian crossing the street is whether or not you are crossing the street in a designated crosswalk. If you are a pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk without any traffic control device then you automatically are given the right of way to any vehicles that are travelling on that road. NY VTL 1151(a) states that when a pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk that is not controlled by a traffic control device all vehicles shall yield or stop to the right of way of the pedestrian. Though, this does not give the pedestrian the authority to jump out in front of a moving vehicle. Although, once the pedestrian is in the crosswalk, there is a duty on the driver to stop and allow that pedestrian to cross.
If the pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk that is at an intersection controlled by a walk/don’t walk signal, a pedestrian has the right of way when he/she is in the crosswalk and the signal displays a “walk” signal in their favor. Pursuant to NY VTL 1112 the pedestrian has the full right of way and all vehicles shall yield to the right of way of the pedestrian.
If a pedestrian decides to cross the street at a section of road that does not have a crosswalk i.e. middle of a block, the pedestrian must yield to the right of way of all moving vehicle traffic. Under this scenario NY VTL 1152 gives the right of way to the vehicle and not the pedestrian.
If a pedestrian is at an intersection which does not have a crosswalk but does have a traffic signal, the pedestrian must obey the traffic signal like that of motorist. NY VTL 1150 states that a pedestrian is under the same duty as a motorist to adhere to the traffic signals.
Regardless of the rules stated above a pedestrian (like a motorist) still has a duty to see what there is to be seen and make a conscious effort to look for oncoming traffic even if the pedestrian has the right of way.
During the litigation of a pedestrian car accident a plaintiff attorney may be able to win the issue of liability against the motorist prior to trial on a written submission known as summary judgment. The key factors in this written submission would be based upon the following facts: 1) Was the pedestrian in the crosswalk? 2) Did they have the right of way pursuant to the law? And 3) did the pedestrian look for oncoming traffic prior to crossing the street? If all of these questions can be answered in the affirmative there is a good chance that you may be able to win liability without ever having a trial on the issue.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a pedestrian crossing the street. Please contact Giampa Law and we will happy to give you a free consultation.