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What Is Pedestrian Negligence?

pedestrian crossing

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, pedestrian accidents are, unfortunately, all too common. If you are involved in such an accident, it's important to familiarize yourself with key concepts such as pedestrian negligence and comparative negligence. These principles not only help determine liability but also can affect your final settlement offer in a case. 

Understanding Pedestrian Negligence 

Pedestrian negligence refers to situations where a pedestrian's actions (or lack thereof) contribute to or cause an accident. This can include behaviors that violate traffic laws or general safety norms, such as:  

  • jaywalking,  
  • crossing against a signal, or  
  • walking along highways or other restricted zones. 

For example, if a pedestrian dashes out into the road without looking and gets hit by a car, they may be considered negligent. Even though drivers have a duty of care to avoid hitting pedestrians, individuals on foot also have a responsibility to act reasonably and not place themselves in harm's way. 

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents 

Below, we shed light on the common causes of these tragedies:  

Distracted Driving 

Distracted driving is amongst the leading causes of pedestrian accidents. This includes drivers and pedestrians who are texting, talking on the phone, or engaging in any activity that diverts their attention from the road. Distractions can lead to delayed reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents. 


Speeding is another major contributor to pedestrian fatalities. Traveling at high speeds reduces the amount of time a driver can react to unexpected situations, like a pedestrian suddenly crossing the road. 


Alcohol or drug impairment, whether on the part of the driver or the pedestrian, can also lead to fatal accidents. Impaired judgment, reduced motor control, and slower reaction times are all potential consequences of intoxication. 

The Role of Pedestrian Negligence 

While the above factors largely relate to driver behavior, it's important to note that pedestrian negligence is a significant contributor to these accidents. Pedestrians can be negligent if they ignore traffic signals, crossroads outside designated crosswalks, walk along highways, or are distracted while walking. 

Comparative Negligence & Pedestrian Accidents 

Comparative negligence comes into play when both the pedestrian and the driver share some degree of fault for an accident. In these situations, the law compares the negligence of each party to determine who is primarily responsible. This principle is crucial because it can significantly impact the outcome of a personal injury claim. 

New York law does not bar the at-fault parties from recovering damages. However, the damages a person receives will be diminished based on their attributable fault.   

Let's consider a scenario where a pedestrian is crossing the street. While they did cross at a designated crosswalk, they are playing Candy Crush and distracted by their phone. At the same time, a driver going above the speed limit hits the pedestrian.  

In this case, both parties may share blame—the pedestrian for not paying attention and the driver for speeding. The percentage of fault will depend on the specifics of the case and the discretion of the court, and should the pedestrian pursue a claim, their settlement award would likely be reduced.  

Read our blog, “Understanding New York’s Negligence Laws,” to learn more about how comparative negligence works. 

How to Avoid Liability & Stay Safe 

Here are some tips for pedestrians to help avoid liability in pedestrian accidents:  

  • Adhere to traffic laws. Pedestrians should always use designated crosswalks and obey traffic signals. Ignoring these rules not only puts you at risk but also increases the chances of being found negligent in case of an accident.  
  • Don't assume. Never assume a driver has seen you or will stop for you. You should try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing and wait until cars at a full stop (or at least are clearly deaccelerating). 
  • Stay alert. Avoid distractions such as smartphones and headphones when walking near or crossing streets. Your full attention should be on your surroundings. 
  • Visibility matters. If you walk around at night, wear bright colors or reflective clothing to ensure drivers can see you. You should also consider carrying a flashlight.  

Call (516) 628-6402 to Discuss Your Case with Our Team  

Choosing the right attorney to represent you is a crucial decision, especially when dealing with personal injury cases. The complexities involved require experience, objectivity, and a deep understanding of the client's needs. This is where the Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli makes a difference. 

With over 25 years in the legal field, we have established a reputation for delivering exceptional legal services to our clients. If you or a loved one have been involved in a pedestrian accident, our attorneys can discuss your legal rights and options as well as help you collect evidence to establish liability and fault.  

Contact our pedestrian accident attorney to discuss your case today.

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