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Pedestrian Rights When a Parked Vehicle Obstructs a Crosswalk

Under a normal conditions a pedestrian has the right of way while crossing the street if the cross in a designated crosswalk.  If there is no traffic control device a pedestrian has the right of way while crossing the street in a designated crosswalk.  But what if there is a vehicle blocking the crosswalk?

New York case law has held that a vehicle owner or driver may be held partially responsible for a motor vehicle accident with a pedestrian if that person was unable to cross the street in marked crosswalk because it was blocked by their vehicle.  This means that the person who blocked the crosswalk with their vehicle may be held liable for a car accident even if it was not their car who struck the pedestrian crossing the street.

Like all case law in New York, this is very fact specific.  If the vehicle in stopped in the crosswalk is only standing in the crosswalk and not parked, there is case law which holds that it is only a mere inconvenience for the pedestrian to wait for the vehicle to move and that vehicle shall not be held responsible.  For example, if a City bus stops to let of passengers and in doing so, straddles a crosswalk because a car is parked at the bus stop; this is considered a mere inconvenience for a pedestrian trying to cross the street and that person has the duty to wait for the bus to leave before crossing in the crosswalk.

On the other hand, if a vehicle actually parks in a cross walk and leaves the vehicle unattended, that person can be held liable if as a result of their illegal parking job a pedestrian is forced to cross the street outside of a crosswalk and is hit by oncoming traffic.  An example of this would be if a mail truck stops to deliver a package in a building and leaves their vehicle unattended in a crosswalk.  In this scenario the postal struck may be held liable if a pedestrian is hit by oncoming traffic as a result of having to cross the street outside of the crosswalk.

Again, you must analyze each accident on a case by case basis.  There are many other factors which come into play when determining the legal liability of a car obstructing a crosswalk.  The general rule is that a pedestrian should cross the street at a designated crosswalk or intersection.  Once the pedestrian has the right of way and checked for oncoming traffic, it is now the oncoming vehicles that have the duty to avoid the pedestrian.  In contrast, if a pedestrian crosses mid-block outside of the crosswalk, it is the duty of the pedestrian to yield to the right of way of oncoming vehicle traffic.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a pedestrian motor vehicle accident feel free to contact Giampa Law.  We would be happy to give you a free consultation and discuss your legal remedies.