What If I Was Partially at Fault for My New York City Pedestrian Accident?

New York is a comparative negligence state, which means that if you are partially at fault for a pedestrian-car accident, the compensation that you are entitled to recover will be reduced in proportion to your relative contribution to the accident. 

Notwithstanding this application of comparative negligence, the New York City pedestrian accident lawyers at Douglas and London caution their clients that “fault” can have a different meaning in a personal injury lawsuit than it does in other contexts. Many injured pedestrians assume that they will not be able to recover damages for their injuries because they were somehow at fault. The reality is that with the representation of a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer, an individual can recover substantial damages even if they shared responsibility.

How is fault determined in a pedestrian-car accident?

If a person’s actions or failure to act are the direct and proximate cause of an accident, then that person will be at fault for any resulting injuries and losses. If, for example, a driver speeds through an intersection before a light change and strikes a pedestrian in the process, that driver will likely be primarily at fault.

That driver might argue that the pedestrian failed to watch for oncoming traffic. However, that argument would not be relevant if the pedestrian had the right of way or could not reasonably determine the speed of the oncoming vehicle.

Because fault is fact-specific, any pedestrian who has been struck by a car should try to record as many details of the accident as possible. Traffic, road, and weather conditions, the presence of other pedestrians, and the pedestrian’s own actions will all be relevant considerations in assessing fault.

How do negligent drivers attempt to shift fault to a pedestrian?

The negligent driver’s insurance company representative will usually contact the pedestrian soon after the accident. Under New York State’s no-fault rules, the insurer might offer to reimburse their medical expenses and some lost wages. However, an insurer’s initial offer will generally be far less than the full amount that they are entitled to recover.

Moreover, anything the injured individual says to the insurance company representative can be used in later negotiations to assign fault to them and to reduce the damages that they could otherwise recover. An injured pedestrian can best protect themselves against an insurance company’s attempts to shift fault by retaining an experienced team of New York City personal injury lawyers to handle all communications.

How can pedestrians guard themselves against arguments that they were partially at fault for an accident?

In busy cities like New York, people on foot should exercise a higher level of care for their safety when they are walking in and around traffic. This includes:

  • refraining from looking at cell phones or other devices while walking.
  • crossing streets only at designated crosswalks and following signal lights and signs.
  • wearing appropriate footwear to handle the sidewalk and roadway conditions that they will encounter.
  • avoiding blind spots or poorly lit locations where drivers would be less likely to see pedestrians.
  • paying close attention to children.

A negligent driver and their insurers will always argue that the pedestrian was partially at fault. A pedestrian can defeat that argument by showing that they exercised reasonable care and that the driver had the last and best opportunity to prevent the accident.   

Contact us at Douglas and London for a free consultation

Insurance companies combine elements of New York’s comparative negligence rules and the state’s no-fault standards to reduce the payments to injured pedestrians. We push back against those insurers and use the facts of every case to demonstrate our clients’ lack of partial fault for an accident. Schedule a free consultation today.