Negligence in a Motor Vehicle/Pedestrian Accident Isn’t Always Clear

Many traffic accidents involving pedestrians are fatal. Take the recent death of a 16-year-old boy in Queens who was killed when the driver of a minivan lost control and jumped a curb on Monday, March 11, 2013, striking him and four others who sustained non-life threatening injuries.

The driver was reported to have been reaching for a milk carton and lost control of the vehicle, jumping the curb. New York certainly has its fair share of accidents involving pedestrians. 

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2011 there was a total of 15,928: 

  • fatal;
  • non-fatal injury; or
  • reportable property damage motor vehicle/pedestrian accidents.

Determining Negligence in a Motor Vehicle/Pedestrian Accident

In civil cases involving injury or death, negligence will be evaluated. This is established by taking into consideration three important factors.

The first factor that should be considered is that the pedestrian was owed a duty of care. Anytime someone gets behind the wheel of a car, a duty of care is owed to other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The driver is to act in a reasonable manner that would prevent others from suffering injury.

The second factor is proving that the driver failed to provide a duty of care (or was negligent). Let’s say the driver looks down for a few seconds to read a text message or to unnecessarily reach for an item in the car and ends up striking a pedestrian. This could be considered negligence.

The third factor is establishing that the injuries sustained by the pedestrian were caused by the driver’s failure to provide a duty of care. So if a driver was distracted and struck a pedestrian, the injury may be linked to the driver’s negligence. However, if the pedestrian already had an injury – a broken limb, for example – then the driver would not be held responsible for the previous injury.

While the victim in the Queens accident does not appear to have acted negligently in this case – he was reportedly on the sidewalk when the vehicle jumped the curb – not all cases are as clear.

Not all motor vehicle/pedestrian crashes are automatically the fault of the driver. It would depend on the circumstances of the case. The attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates can offer legal consultation to accident victims or their families to evaluate case details and help determine if a claim may be warranted.

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