Sometimes pedestrians cross the street outside the crosswalk. Fortunately for accident victims, crossing outside the crosswalk does not necessarily preclude them from compensation from at-fault parties. In New York, a driver still has a duty to exercise due care to avoid striking a pedestrian. The Supreme Court in New York County recently considered a defense motion for summary judgment, based in part on the plaintiff’s failure to use a crosswalk, in Kaur v. Reynoso.
The plaintiff filed suit against the driver and the owner of the Access-A-Ride vehicle that hit her, as well as the MTA and the New York City Transit Authority. The plaintiff alleged that she was struck by the vehicle while attempting to cross the street. The defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiff could not show they were the proximate cause of her injuries. They further argued that the plaintiff was at fault for the accident for darting into traffic, and they did not have time to avoid the accident.
The defendant driver testified at his deposition that he was traveling in the second lane from the right, next to the bus lane. He said he was traveling at about 20 or 25 miles per hour in light traffic. He said the light at the intersection in question was green, and he traveled through it and tried to brake when he saw the plaintiff. He could not remember if he was able to hit the brakes before striking the plaintiff.
The plaintiff testified that she crossed the street four to five car lengths from the light at the intersection. She testified that the light was red when she began crossing the street.
The defendants argued that the plaintiff was at fault for crossing outside the crosswalk when traffic had the green light. They also argued that the plaintiff’s black attire while she was standing by a black bus before she crossed the street “obscured her from the view of oncoming motorists.”
The police report stated that the plaintiff “was not paying attention and ran into bus while trying to cross street in the middle of the block.” The defendants argued that the driver had only a second or two, or less, to react and should therefore not be held liable.
The plaintiff and her friend both testified that the light was red to oncoming traffic when she began to cross. The plaintiff’s friend further testified that the light was red until the time the plaintiff was hit. The plaintiff also argued against the defendants’ theory that her black clothing made her less visible, noting that the defendant driver had not testified she had been standing by a black bus.
The court noted that the plaintiff had admitted to trying to cross outside the crosswalk, but the defendant driver still had a duty to “exercise due care to avoid colliding” with her, pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1146. The fact that the plaintiff was not in the crosswalk was an issue of comparative fault to be decided at trial, but it was not grounds for summary judgment in favor of the defendant on the issue of liability.
The court found that there were triable issues of fact, due to the conflicting accounts of how the accident occurred. The defendant’s and the plaintiff’s testimony conflicted as to whether the collision occurred before or after the intersection and whether the light was green or red. Additionally, the plaintiff testified she had looked and seen no oncoming traffic, but the defendant testified there was only a second or two between when he first saw her and when he hit her. The court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
Our experienced New York pedestrian accident attorney understands that a pedestrian may be able to recover compensation for her injuries, even if she attempted to cross the street outside the crosswalk. Drivers have a duty to use reasonable care. Although the plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced proportionally by the plaintiff’s comparative fault, she will not necessarily be barred from recovery for not crossing in a crosswalk. If you have been seriously injured by an automobile, call us to set up a consultation.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
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