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Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Knockdown Accidents


When crossing the street, pedestrians have no physical protection from an oncoming vehicle that can weigh thousands of pounds. Even a collision that occurs at a low speed can cause catastrophic injuries or fatality. Nevertheless, a driver will often assert the defense of comparative negligence in an attempt to shift the blame for the accident onto the pedestrian. Critically, even if a pedestrian is partly at fault, they may still be entitled to compensation from the negligent driver.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a defense often raised in New York personal injury claims in which the defendant tries to limit their liability by arguing that the plaintiff’s actions contributed to the accident. For instance, in a pedestrian knockdown case, the defendant may argue that the victim wasn’t paying attention while crossing the street, crossed at the wrong time, or was outside the crosswalk.      

Importantly, just as drivers have a legal duty to operate their vehicles safely and observe those crossing the street, pedestrians must also exercise reasonable care. To avoid accidents, a pedestrian should only cross at an intersection when a “walk signal” indicates it is safe to do so. Pedestrians must also ensure that they are not distracted while crossing the street by texting or talking on their cellphone.

If a jury determines that a pedestrian was negligent, they are not necessarily barred from recovery. Rather, in New York, any compensation to which a pedestrian would be entitled is reduced by their share of fault. For example, if the damages amount to $100,000, but they were found to be 30% at fault for the accident, they would be able to recover up to $70,000. Even if a pedestrian is 99% at fault for the accident, they can still recover 1%.

Proving Liability in a Pedestrian Knockdown Accident

Regardless of whether a pedestrian paid attention to their surroundings while crossing the street, pedestrian knockdown accidents mostly occur due to driver negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. A driver may have been speeding, trying to beat a red light, or failed to yield the pedestrian’s right of way. Driving under the influence, misjudging distance, and inattention are also common causes of pedestrian accidents.

The police should be called to the scene following a pedestrian accident — they must investigate any motor vehicle accident that resulted in injury by law. The police will take statements from witnesses, the driver, and the victim, and document the accident. Although police reports are generally not admissible in court unless they satisfy an exception to the hearsay rule, they can contain crucial information and provide leverage in settlement negotiations.  

Liability can be demonstrated in a pedestrian knockdown accident through evidence such as eyewitness testimony, footage from traffic camera surveillance, and photos. In some cases, accident reconstruction experts may also be hired to provide testimony. However, it’s essential to understand that even if liability is proven, a victim’s injuries must be established through proper medical documentation to recover compensation.   

Pedestrian Knockdown Accident Injuries

Pedestrian knockdown accidents can cause severe injury or fatality. According to data collected by the New York Department of Health, there were, on average, 312 deaths and 3,027 hospitalizations in connection with pedestrian knockdown accidents between 2012 and 2014. 56% of victims involved in fatal accidents suffered traumatic brain injury as well as 37% of those who were hospitalized.

Other pedestrian knockdown accident injuries can include:

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Concussion
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Paralysis

Pedestrian knockdown accidents can result in extensive medical treatment, a lengthy hospital stay, and time lost from work. No-Fault benefits may cover up to $50,000 for medical care and up to a certain amount of lost wages. But this is rarely enough to compensate a victim for the full extent of monetary loss they may have incurred as a result of being struck by a car. In these cases, an injured pedestrian may be eligible to file a personal injury action to receive compensation for their economic damages — and their pain and suffering.

Contact an Experienced New York Pedestrian Knockdown Accident Attorney

If you’ve suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a pedestrian knockdown accident, you may be entitled to compensation. A skilled personal injury attorney can help ensure the negligent party is held accountable and you obtain the monetary recovery you deserve. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has over 30 years of experience providing reliable representation in pedestrian knockdown accidents and achieving favorable outcomes for clients.

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a free consultation.