When a pedestrian is struck by a moving vehicle, the outcome can be devastating. Unfortunately, in areas like New York, where people are everywhere, they are more common than some people realize.
If you are involved in an accident as a pedestrian, do you know your rights? What if a family member is killed while walking on New York streets?
At The Law Offices of Joseph J. Perrini, III, we understand the impact of these accidents and can help you pursue legal action. Learn more about pedestrian accidents resulting in fatalities and your rights here.
Understanding the Grim Statistics
New York has witnessed a concerning rise in fatal pedestrian accidents in recent years. According to the New York Department of Transportation, pedestrians are ten times more likely to die from a traffic crash than a car occupant. Moreover, while pedestrians account for only a fraction of those involved in traffic accidents, they constitute a significant percentage of traffic fatalities.
While numbers give an overview, it’s essential to understand that each statistic represents a life – someone’s mother, father, child, or friend. The grief and trauma ripple from one fatal accident touch countless lives and underline the urgency of addressing this issue head-on.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Fatalities
Pedestrian fatalities can occur in a split second. While many incidents can lead to these accidents, some are more common than others. In New York, some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents resulting in fatalities include the following:
Distracted driving is a leading cause of all accidents, including pedestrian accidents. When a driver is on their phone, eating, or doing something besides paying attention to the road, the likelihood of an accident increases significantly.
However, not just drivers can be at fault for these accidents. If pedestrians are using their phones or otherwise distracted, they may also be partially at fault for the accident.
Speeding significantly reduces a driver’s reaction time and increases the severity of accidents. Pedestrians hit by a vehicle traveling at high speeds are more likely to sustain fatal injuries. Furthermore, it becomes challenging for drivers to judge distances and stop in time, making speed a critical factor in pedestrian fatalities.
Failure to Yield
Pedestrians have the right of way at marked crosswalks, but many accidents occur when drivers fail to yield. Whether due to impatience, inattention, or misjudgment, such oversights can lead to tragic outcomes. Respecting pedestrian rights and being cautious, especially in busy areas, is crucial for drivers.
Driving under alcohol or drugs severely compromises a driver’s cognitive functions, reflexes, and judgment. Impaired drivers struggle with depth perception, decision-making, and reaction speeds, putting pedestrians at heightened risk. Beyond legal repercussions, the consequences of impaired driving can be life-altering.
Low light conditions, such as during dawn, dusk, or foggy weather, can hinder a driver’s ability to spot pedestrians. Without adequate street lighting or reflective clothing, pedestrians become vulnerable. Both drivers and pedestrians must take added precautions during such conditions to prevent tragic accidents.
Why Are Pedestrian Accidents So Deadly?
Pedestrian accidents often lead to serious accidents and fatalities. Some of the reasons fatalities are so common include the following:
Vulnerability of the Human Body
Despite its resilience, the human body is highly vulnerable when exposed to external forces like those from a moving vehicle. Unlike car occupants, pedestrians lack the protective shield of metal, airbags, and seat belts. When the body is struck, it absorbs the full brunt of the impact, leading to severe, often fatal, injuries.
Speed and Impact
The speed at which a vehicle travels plays a significant role in the fatality of pedestrian accidents. Faster speeds mean greater force upon impact. Even at moderate speeds, a car can deliver a lethal blow. Given the disparity in mass and momentum between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the latter invariably suffers more.
In many pedestrian accidents, the initial impact is just the beginning. After being struck, a pedestrian might be thrown onto the ground, against another object, or even into the path of oncoming traffic. These secondary collisions can compound injuries, increasing the chances of a fatal outcome.
Delayed Medical Attention
Often, the immediate aftermath of a pedestrian accident involves shock, confusion, and, sometimes, a delay in medical response. Critical golden hours might be lost, especially if the accident occurs remotely. Quick medical intervention is vital, and any delay can elevate the risk of fatalities.
New York’s Initiatives for Safer Streets
Acknowledging the severity of the issue, New York has adopted several measures to enhance pedestrian safety. Programs like “Vision Zero” aim to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries while promoting safer, smarter, and more efficient transportation. Such initiatives involve redesigning streets, enhancing pedestrian crossings, implementing speed limit reductions, and increasing public awareness campaigns.
However, while the state and city administrations play their roles, individuals also bear responsibility. Drivers must respect speed limits, avoid distractions, and always remain vigilant. Pedestrians, while having the right of way, should also stay aware of their surroundings, especially at intersections or when visibility is low.
Legal Recourse for Affected Families
The aftermath of a fatal pedestrian accident devastates the family left behind. Amid the grief, they also have to navigate medical bills, funeral expenses, and the potential loss of income. Hiring a New York pedestrian attorney offers legal support to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable and that the impacted families receive compensation.
The Law Offices of Joseph J. Perrini, III, Can Help with Your Pedestrian Accident Case
While New York continues to evolve its strategies to protect pedestrians, the responsibility lies with each individual to act with care, diligence, and respect for others. The tragic loss of life in pedestrian accidents is a grim reminder of the stakes at play.
As the city strives for safer streets, every New Yorker – on foot or behind the wheel – must prioritize safety for their sake and their fellow citizens. If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, our Long Island injury lawyers are here to help. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.