Pedestrians are subject to the same “rules of the road” in New York as motorists and bicyclists. Among other things, this means pedestrians must obey all traffic signals. While New York law does require motorists to “yield the right of way” at crosswalks when there is no traffic signal, that is not a license for pedestrians to simply dart out into traffic. Such behavior can lead to car accidents, and the law often holds the pedestrian responsible.
A Recent Example
The Appellate Division, Second Department, recently addressed a case involving a pedestrian accident in Suffolk County. The plaintiff was struck by a vehicle while crossing a five-lane road in North Hempstead. The plaintiff subsequently sued the owner and the operator of the vehicle for “serious injuries” he allegedly sustained in the accident. (The plaintiff also sued another group of defendants for a second, unrelated car accident which took place several weeks earlier.)
The defendants moved to dismiss the case, arguing the plaintiff violated was illegally jaywalking at the time of the accident. UnderNew York Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1152(a), “Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.” Here, the plaintiff testified he “crossed the two eastbound lanes by stepping between two vehicles in the first eastbound lane,” before walking “about three to four steps out of the second lane into the middle multi-turn lane when he was struck” by the defendant’s vehicle. The plaintiff said he never saw the vehicle coming before being struck.
Based on this and other testimony,Suffolk County Supreme Court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment, noting Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1146 “imposes a superseding duty on a motorist to exercise due care to avoid hitting a pedestrian.” The judge said there was enough conflicting testimony to create an “issue of fact” for a jury to decide whether the plaintiff or the defendant was liable for the accident.
But theSecond Department disagreed. Reversing the Supreme Court decision, the appeals court found “[u]nder the circumstances presented here, the [defendants] established their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that the conduct of the plaintiff in crossing the street at a location other than at an intersection, while emerging from between stopped cars, was the sole proximate cause of the accident.” Even if, as the plaintiff alleged, the defendant driver “failed to avoid a collision with the plaintiff,” that did not excuse the plaintiff's reckless jaywalking as far as the appeals court was concerned.
Need Legal Assistance Following an Accident?If you have been involved in an accident, either as a driver or a pedestrian, it is important to seek legal representation as quickly as possible in order to protect your interests. An experienced New York personal injury attorney can assist you with many types of accident cases. Contact the offices of Waldhauser & Nisar, LLP, today if you need to speak with an attorney right away.