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Liability In Pedestrian Accidents


It may be a common misconception that in pedestrian accidents, the driver is always at fault. In reality, the pedestrian does not always have the right of way. Pedestrians must follow the rules of the road just as any driver should. If a pedestrian is involved in an accident which is partly caused by their failure to follow the rules of the road, they may be partially or fully liable for their accident. There are several rules that both pedestrians and drivers must follow in order to safely share the roads.

When A Pedestrian May Be Held Liable

  • A pedestrian should only cross in crosswalks – areas designated for pedestrians to walk across roadways. If signals are present, pedestrians must follow what those signals say for their own safety. Should they cross while the traffic control signal is showing the “Don’t Walk” sign (the hand) and a motor vehicle strikes them, they may be held partially or fully liable for the accident.
  • If a pedestrian fails to use a crosswalk and instead jaywalks (crosses the road unlawfully and without regard to traffic), they may be held partially or fully liable for their accident. Motor vehicles have the right of way over pedestrians wherever there is not an intersection or crosswalk. Note that crossing the road at an intersection to the opposing side of the road is not unlawful (this area is considered a crosswalk).
  • It is the pedestrian’s responsibility to mind traffic when crossing at an intersection, just as it is a driver’s responsibility to yield the right of way to these pedestrians. If a pedestrian crosses an intersection while drivers headed in their direction have a green light, the pedestrian may be held partially or fully liable for their accident.
  • If there is a safe sidewalk present, and the pedestrian chooses not to use the sidewalk and is struck by a vehicle, they may be held partially or fully liable for their accident.
  • Pedestrians are not allowed to walk on limited-access roads, such as expressways, entrance or exit ramps. If they are struck by a motor vehicle on a limited-access road, they may be held partially or fully liable for their accident.

New York is a “comparative negligence” state, meaning a plaintiff may be held partially at fault for their accident. Percentage of liability directly affects a plaintiff’s damages. Percentage of liability may be apportioned between plaintiff and defendant to an amount equal to 100%.


Both drivers and pedestrians should be extremely vigilant on both the roads and in parking lots, especially as the holidays approach. If you are a pedestrian on Long Island and have been struck by a vehicle resulting in serious injury, you may be entitled to full compensation for the damages you’ve incurred. Consult with a Long Island Pedestrian Accident Attorney right away.

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