When you are a pedestrian in New York City, you need to be as alert when you walk as when you drive. When a moving vehicle strikes a pedestrian, if that pedestrian survives, he or she could suffer head trauma, broken bones, internal injuries, or back and neck injuries – from even a “minor” accident. If a motorist is texting, speeding, intoxicated, or driving negligently in any other way and harms a pedestrian, that motorist may be deemed liable if the injured pedestrian chooses to pursue an injury lawsuit.

Pedestrians and drivers both have a duty to be alert and to look out for each other. In New York City, always cross at a crosswalk when a crosswalk is available. When a crosswalk has a pedestrian signal, you either push a button on the pole, or if there is no button, wait until a “WALK” signal comes up automatically. While the rules and safety recommendations for pedestrians in New York City are fairly simple to understand, the laws are not.

A motorist who violates New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) and injures a pedestrian will usually be considered negligent in a civil action. However, every case is different, and mitigating factors often emerge in personal injury cases that complicate the picture and make it difficult to reach a settlement. Any pedestrian who is injured in New York City traffic by a negligent driver should discuss the available legal options with an experienced Bronx personal injury attorney.

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR PEDESTRIANS IN NEW YORK CITY?

New York police officers issue summonses and warnings to pedestrians as well as motorists who are careless or reckless. Generally speaking under the VTL, pedestrians have the right of way. Pedestrians, as well as drivers, must be alert and avoid recklessness or negligence such as jaywalking or walking into moving traffic. VTL Section 1151 makes the “failure to yield to a pedestrian” illegal in New York. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks with or without working traffic signals. No other vehicle may overtake or pass a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Failure to yield to a pedestrian is a moving violation. If you are convicted, the penalty is a fine of up to $150 and a mandatory $93 state surcharge, along with three points added to your driver’s license. However, away from crosswalks, pedestrians must yield to moving vehicles under VTL Section 1152. In New York City, pedestrians may not cross in the middle of a block with traffic control signals at both ends of the block, but state law does not impose the same requirement outside of the five boroughs.

VTL Section 1156 sets forth the rules for pedestrians walking along roadways. Where sidewalks are provided – and safe to use – a pedestrian may not walk upon or along an adjacent street or roadway. If there are no sidewalks, a pedestrian walking upon or along a street or roadway must walk on the left, facing traffic, provided it is safe to do so, and when a vehicle approaches, that pedestrian must shift as far to the left – and away from the vehicle – as is practical and necessary.

HOW IS JAYWALKING HANDLED IN NEW YORK?

VTL Section 155 defines jaywalking in New York as a traffic infraction. Traffic infractions are handled generally like misdemeanors, with two exceptions. The first is that in most cases, you may plead guilty to a traffic infraction by mail.

The second exception is that jury trials are never conducted for traffic infractions because they are not considered criminal charges. That doesn’t mean jaywalking is treated lightly. A first offense is punishable by a $150 fine, fifteen days in jail, or both, and a second jaywalking conviction within 18 months of the first is punishable by a $300 fine, 45 days in jail, or both.

Sooner or later, we are all pedestrians. Pedestrians almost never wear any safety protection simply because they do not expect to be injured. Thus, the pedestrians who are in fact injured by negligent drivers are likely to suffer catastrophic or disabling injuries.

Internal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord and neck injuries, and amputations are among the tragic consequences of accidents that involve pedestrians. The injuries sustained by pedestrians are almost all preventable, and vigilance is imperative for pedestrians in New York City.

As mentioned above, while the traffic laws in New York are complicated, adhering to some basic safety tips for pedestrians is easy. Don’t become distracted while you’re walking – it’s genuinely hazardous. Cross only at crosswalks where possible and always look both ways.

Don’t jaywalk. Use the sidewalks if you can. Don’t talk or text while you’re walking. Wear bright clothing at night and bring a flashlight. If you are injured by a negligent driver despite taking safety measures, seek medical attention at once.

HOW EASY IS IT TO BE DISTRACTED AS A PEDESTRIAN?

Probably many people don’t realize how easily they are distracted as pedestrians. The BBC reports that one woman in Australia walked right off the end of a pier – and emergency rescuers were summoned – because she was checking Facebook.

Pedestrians have walked into buildings, parking meters, other pedestrians, and right into traffic while texting or surfing the internet. When our parents warned us to look where we’re going, it was good advice.

How can drivers help? Don’t text or talk on a cell phone while you drive. Don’t be distracted by an app, a GPS system, an audio system, pets, or children. Don’t eat, read, or groom while you drive.

Don’t drink any alcohol or use any intoxicating drug or substance before you drive. Keep your vehicle maintained, especially the brakes, lights, wipers, and tires. Comply at all times with all traffic laws and traffic regulations.

If you are injured by a negligent driver in or near New York City while you are a pedestrian, seek medical attention at once. After you’ve been examined by a doctor or another healthcare professional, have an experienced Bronx personal injury attorney review the details of your case and explain your options and legal rights as a victim of negligence.

In most cases, when a personal injury claim is successful, compensation is paid for all medical expenses, including future surgeries and therapy if needed, for all lost income and lost earning capacity, and for all related expenses and losses.