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Pedestrian Accidents, Summer Risks & the Rights of Injured Victims

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable people on public roads, and their lack of protection puts them at an increased risk of suffering serious or even fatal injuries in traffic accidents. Because pedestrians face such serious risks, it becomes critical all motorists be vigilant when behind the wheel, and uphold their legal duty of taking reasonable steps to drive safely.

Unfortunately, as statistics make clear, drivers often fail in this duty and engage in negligent behaviors that lead to preventable accidents and injuries. In fact, pedestrian accidents are on the rise nationwide, according to a safety report released by the Governors Highway Association, and they are claiming the lives of thousands of victims each year. That’s because pedestrians are nearly twice as likely as occupants in passenger vehicles to be killed in a car accident.

Even though pedestrians face risks anytime they step on the road, they may face even greater risks come summer. This is due two major factors:

  • An increase in overall vehicle traffic and more out of state drivers on summer vacation.
  • An increase in pedestrian traffic, including more tourists, more pedestrians exercising, and more children on the road due to summer vacation.

Heavy traffic and more pedestrians has become a recipe for accidents, and they are critical factors for why pedestrian accidents can increase during summer months. Risks are also elevated in intersections, parking lots, and at night or the early morning hours.

As a city known for its bustling sidewalks and intersections, New York City sees a considerable amount of pedestrian accidents every year. What’s more, while statistics show that NYC did see a historic low in traffic fatalities in 2016, there were sharp increases in pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents throughout all five boroughs. The increase is not limited just limited to New York either:

  • Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were fatally stuck nationwide in 2016, an 11% increase over the previous year and a 12% increase when compared to 2014.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, pedestrian deaths increased by 25%.

Safety advocates, and officials in New York, have launched many efforts to address the rising number of pedestrian fatalities. Their efforts are focusing on reducing risks associated with what experts believe are some of the primary causes. These include distracted driving, and particularly texting or using a cell phone, and drunk and drugged driving. Distracted driving is believed to be one of the biggest causes behind the surge in pedestrian injuries and deaths.

In New York City, the Vision Zero safety campaign, which is intended to reduce pedestrian and bicycle accidents in the city, has launched a number of new initiatives to improve roadways safety, including installation of hundreds of new speed bumps and nearly 1,000 Lead Pedestrian intervals. Officials are also looking at addressing risks at more than 100 intersections citywide, 86 of which have been cited as “priority locations” with high rates of accidents. Campaigns to build awareness and remind motorists of safe driving practices, such as driving distraction free and driving sober, are also being used to create safer roads.

While these increased efforts to improve infrastructure and educate motorists is essential to reducing risks on our roads, they do not eliminate them. This is especially true when a driver acts negligently and causes preventable accidents. Distracted motorists, drunk drivers, and others who fail to survey their surroundings before making a turn, backing out of a parking space, or entering traffic will still put victims at risk of suffering preventable harm.

When pedestrians are injured by a negligent motorist, they have the right to initiate the personal injury claim process. This can allow them to hold a driver accountable for their negligence and failure to uphold their legal duty, and provide the opportunity for victims to make a financial recovery of their damages, which may include their medical expenses, lost wages from missing work, and their pain and suffering, among other damages.

At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP, our New York pedestrian accident lawyers are recognized leaders in fighting on behalf of the injured and the wronged. By leveraging our decades of experience and unwavering commitment to clients and their families, we have been able to recover more than $2 billion in compensation on our clients’ behalves. We have the tools and resources to help injured pedestrians, or families who have lost loved ones in fatal pedestrian accidents, better understand their rights and fight for the compensation they deserve.

If you have questions about a recent pedestrian accident in New York City or the surrounding areas of New York, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm for an evaluation of your case. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.

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