New York Intersection Accident Lawyers
With motorists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists passing through intersections daily, it is not surprising they are a prime spot for collisions. In fact, intersections can be particularly dangerous for all those involved – according to the Federal Highway Administration, in 2018 alone, there were 36,560 traffic fatalities. About 10,000 of them involved an intersection, meaning close to one-third of all traffic fatalities in 2018 occurred at intersections, a staggering statistic.
If you have been involved in a collision at an intersection, you are likely feeling overwhelmed. You may be wondering if you can take legal action, but don’t know where to begin. The car accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are here to help.
The law firm of Block O’Toole & Murphy has an extensive track record of obtaining compensation for clients injured in motor vehicle collisions, including a record-breaking $32.7 million jury verdict and a $22.5 million settlement. If you have been injured in an auto accident, dial 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form to speak to a qualified car accident attorney today.
Common Causes of Intersection Accidents
In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent report on crash factors in intersection-related crashes, the NHTSA analyzes the main reasons intersection crashes occur. The NHTSA defines an intersection-related accident as one in which turning left, crossing over, or turning right at the intersection leads to a crash. Human factors that contribute to intersection accidents commonly include:
- Inadequate operator surveillance. Intersections typically either have traffic lights or stop signs; perhaps a driver rolled through a stop sign and did not pause long enough to determine whether or not there was another vehicle passing through as well, or they did not pay enough attention to notice the stop light turn red. Mistakes like these can lead to a serious collision.
- Misjudgment or false assumption of other drivers’ actions. Especially at intersections with stop signs, it is fairly easy for a driver who is not paying attention to misjudge another driver’s intent and get into an accident. For example, one motorist could assume another is going to stop to let him proceed through an intersection, but if neither driver stops and they both enter the intersection, they could collide. Or, it is possible one driver assumes the other is going to proceed straight through the intersection when actually they are making a left. Regardless of the specifics, misjudging or making an incorrect assumption about another driver’s actions can easily lead to a crash.
Turning even with an unclear view. Drivers can become impatient waiting for their turn to proceed at an intersection. This is one factor that can lead to a driver making a turn, even if they are not 100% certain their path is clear. Perhaps a parked vehicle is in the way, the sun is shining in the driver’s eyes, or tree branches are partially blocking the driver’s view; either way, turning without being entirely certain there are no oncoming cars is a risky decision.
Illegal maneuver. The rules of the road are in place for a reason: to keep all motorists and pedestrians safe. If a motorist performs an illegal maneuver at an intersection, such as an illegal U-turn, he is not only breaking the law, but also putting himself and others at greater risk of accidents.
Distracted driving. Intersections require a driver’s full attention. Distracted driving is a leading cause of any kind of accident, but is especially dangerous at intersections. Even looking away for a few seconds can cause a collision, since a driver may not see a car stop short ahead of them or another car cut into their lane if they are not paying full attention.
Misjudgment of the gap between cars or other drivers’ speed. Sometimes a motorist might think they have more time than they do to make a turn safely before another car proceeds through the intersection; if that is not the case, a collision is imminent. Although this can happen to anyone, the NHTSA report states that this happens more frequently to older drivers; in crashes that occurred at intersections with stop lights or stop signs, drivers 55 and older had misjudgment of gap or other drivers’ speed as a critical crash reason significantly more than expected.
Less often, intersection accidents can result from factors that have nothing to do with human error. Some of these include:
- Poorly-designed intersections. Although many intersection accidents are caused by driver error, drivers rely on well-designed roads and clear signage to ensure they can drive safely and without incident. The Federal Highway Administration reports that as long as a driver’s expectations are met while proceeding through an intersection, they are more likely to do so safely. On the other hand, if they are met with unfamiliar situations at an intersection, such as hard-to-read signs, or missing or obscured traffic devices, they are more likely to feel unsure and make an error. For example, in one case the firm handled, we obtained a settlement of $8,800,000 for a grandmother who sustained severe neurological damage when she was struck by a van that jumped up onto the sidewalk. The van jumped onto the sidewalk because it had collided with another van at a nearby intersection; one stop sign at that four-way stop was obscured by overgrown tree branches, so both vans had entered the intersection at the same time.
- Defective or malfunctioning vehicles. A vehicle that malfunctions while approaching or proceeding through an intersection may very well cause an accident. This could be as severe as the brakes giving out, or as minor as a vehicle’s taillights being broken. Regardless, if a motorist’s vehicle isn’t working properly, they may not be able to stop as needed in an intersection, or they might confuse other drivers trying to proceed through the intersection as well.
- Malfunctioning or out-of-service traffic control devices. A traffic light that is malfunctioning or a stop sign that has been knocked down can lead to a serious intersection accident. In New York, there are very specific rules for a motorist who approaches an intersection where they know a traffic control device is either inoperable or has been knocked down. Section 1117 of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws states that they are required to treat that intersection as if a stop sign is governing how they operate their vehicle. Many drivers are unaware of this requirement, although it is also often ignored by those who are aware of the law. This can lead to a devastating crash.
Types of Intersection Accidents
Most of the accidents that occur at intersections involve at least two parties, whether it is two vehicles or a vehicle and a cyclist or pedestrian. The severity of intersection accidents varies, but the main kinds of crashes that occur at intersections includes:
T-bone or side-impact crash: A T-bone collision occurs when one car slams into the side of another vehicle at a perpendicular angle, making the shape of a T. These are a fairly common type of crash at intersections, as left-turning cars may strike the side of a vehicle proceeding straight through an intersection or a car moving straight through might collide with another car in the middle of the intersection that did not yield the right of way. T-bone collisions are particularly dangerous, since the sides of vehicles typically do not provide as much protection for passengers as the front or back.
Head-on collision: Another serious accident, a head-on collision occurs when one vehicle directly strikes another coming from the opposite direction. Head-on collisions are not as common as some of the other types of intersection accidents listed here, but they can have severe consequences when they do occur, since often both vehicles are moving at high speeds and the impact of the crash is forceful.
Rear-end: Rear-end accidents are perhaps some of the most common at intersections; they occur when one vehicle is unable to stop in time to avoid striking the vehicle in front of them. Additionally, sometimes the force of the impact causes the car being rear-ended to move forward and strike the next car in front of it, leading to a messy three-car collision. Rear-end accidents can be frustrating, and most people assume that the rear-ending car is entirely at fault; while this is true in many cases, it is not the rule. There are some circumstances in which the car that has been rear-ended shares partial liability, such as if the front car’s brake lights were out at the time of the accident.
Pedestrian accident: In New York, pedestrians and bicyclists pass through intersections just as much as cars do. Drivers have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road and keep the streets safe for pedestrians, but pedestrians also have a responsibility to ensure they traverse the streets safely and do not put themselves at an increased risk of car accidents. For example, pedestrians should always use crosswalks when crossing the street, and only cross when the light is in their favor or the walk signal is illuminated. To best prevent pedestrian accidents at intersections, both pedestrians and drivers need to follow the rules of the road and take every precaution to protect themselves.
Injuries From Intersection Accidents
Intersection accidents can vary from minor fender-benders to catastrophic crashes. Depending on the severity of the crash, the injuries suffered can be devastating. These can include:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Internal injuries or bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash
- Lacerations or cuts
- Head injuries, such as a concussion
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Mental and emotional stress, such as PTSD
In the most severe cases, death can result from a motor vehicle collision. To try and minimize injuries, you should always wear your seat belt when driving (this is also New York State law). If you have been injured in a car accident at an intersection, call 212-736-5300 to discuss your case with the expert personal injury lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy.
Liability in Intersection Accidents
Because intersection accidents typically involve two or more parties, the most pressing question in the aftermath is often who is at fault, or who caused the accident. Multiple factors can contribute to liability, and fault does not always lie completely with one person. In New York State, this is possible because of the comparative negligence law.
Comparative negligence allows two (or more) parties to share fault for an accident in a personal injury case, if liability cannot be assigned entirely to one person. For example, if you are proceeding through an intersection with a four-way stop, and you are struck by a vehicle also moving through the intersection from the left, you might assume that the driver of the vehicle that hit you is 100% at fault. However, perhaps you didn’t come to a complete stop and rolled too quickly through the stop sign, or were distracted by your phone when you started to proceed through the intersection. Factors like these could potentially contribute to your liability in the accident as well.
New York’s comparative negligence law allows both parties in an accident to recover compensation if they are both found to have some percentage of liability. Regarding the example above, the driver who hit your vehicle may be found 90% at fault, and you might be found to have 10% of the fault in causing the accident. This would reduce your overall compensation by 10%, but it would not bar you completely from recovering damages.
Intersection Safety in New York
The prospect of getting into an accident, whether at an intersection or elsewhere, is scary, but there are steps that both pedestrians and drivers can take to ensure safety and prevent collisions. It is notable that many of the below are not just tips; they are New York State laws.
- Exercise due care. Drivers are required by New York law to provide a duty of care to all others on the road, so that they can avoid collisions.
- Stop for pedestrians legally crossing the street. Pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk with the walk signal flashing have the right of way, and drivers must yield to them. The same applies even if there are no traffic signals at the intersection; if a pedestrian is utilizing a crosswalk, the driver should stop for them.
- Yield to pedestrians using the sidewalk. Any drivers exiting or entering a building, private road, driveway, or alleyway must yield to any pedestrians crossing on the sidewalk in their path.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals when crossing the street. Pedestrians must follow all traffic directions, just as drivers do. Pedestrians should not assume they will be okay just because they are crossing in a crosswalk; if the signal is red, they should not cross.
- Yield to vehicles when there are no crosswalks or signals. Although pedestrians typically have the right of way when crossing in a crosswalk, if there is not a crosswalk available or no traffic signage, the pedestrian should use extra caution when crossing and understand that they have to yield to oncoming traffic.
- Avoid walking on expressways and highways. Highways are packed with fast-moving vehicles and there is typically no safe place to walk. Pedestrians are not allowed on these roads, according to New York law.
Never assume a driver has seen you. Just because you are crossing legally in a crosswalk does not mean it is automatically safe to do so. Always check your surroundings and look both ways before crossing. Attempt to make eye contact with the driver to ensure he has seen you before heading out into the street.
It is important to note that, regardless of who legally has the right of way, motorists are expected to exercise extra caution to avoid pedestrian accidents.
Contact an Intersection Accident Lawyer Today
Intersection accidents often have life-altering consequences. If you have been injured in a collision that occurred at an intersection, you may want to explore your legal options. The car accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have one of the best records in litigating auto accident cases of all kinds, including intersection accidents.
Notable results for clients harmed in intersection accidents include:
- $14,000,000 jury verdict for a 23-year-old motorcyclist who was struck by a left-turning truck at a Nassau County intersection, requiring a below-the-knee amputation of his leg
- $12,000,000 settlement, with $71,643,000 anticipated payout, for a 5-year-old child who was struck while standing on the sidewalk by a vehicle that collided with another at a nearby intersection
- $8,800,000 settlement for a grandmother who suffered a traumatic brain injury after she was struck by a van that had collided with another van at an intersection
- $7,525,000 settlement in a wrongful death case for the surviving family of a mother and son who were tragically killed when their vehicle collided with a van at a Suffolk County intersection
- $6,000,000 settlement for a city bus passenger who suffered multiple injuries that required surgery after the bus collided with another vehicle at an intersection
- $5,160,916 settlement for a landscaper who needed spinal fusion surgery after his truck was struck by a vehicle that ran through a stop sign
- $4,000,000 settlement for a man who suffered multiple herniated discs when he was T-boned by a left-turning vehicle while proceeding lawfully through an intersection
- $4,000,000 settlement, with $19,394,595 payout, for a 12-year-old student who was struck while in the crosswalk by a driver whose view of the intersection was obstructed
- $3,500,000 settlement for a day care director who was proceeding through an intersection where she had the right of way when she was T-boned by another vehicle that ran a stop sign
- $3,450,000 settlement for a Queens resident who was struck by an Access-a-Ride bus and dragged for 25 feet while crossing the street in a crosswalk
- $3,375,000 settlement for a delivery driver and salesperson who was rear-ended while stopped at a red light, causing herniated discs
- $3,369,066 jury verdict for a court clerk who was rear-ended at a red light, causing her vehicle to move forward and rear-end the vehicle in front of her
- $3,000,000 settlement for a city bus passenger who suffered various injuries after the bus she was riding in was T-boned by an emergency services truck at an intersection
- $3,000,000 settlement for a truck driver who sustained knee and back injuries after he was rear-ended by a snow plow while stopped at a red light
- $3,000,000 settlement for a 48-year-old man who was struck by a left-turning MTA bus while passing through a Brooklyn intersection
- $3,000,000 settlement in a wrongful death case for the surviving family of an entrepreneur who was killed as a result of a Long Island intersection accident
- $2,558,000 settlement in a wrongful death case for the surviving wife and children of a man who tragically died from his injuries after his vehicle was struck by another at a Brooklyn intersection with traffic signals that were not visible
- $2,250,000 settlement for a 55-year-old pedestrian who suffered a herniated disc, among other injuries, after she was struck by a school bus while walking in a crosswalk
- $2,250,000 settlement for a retired teacher who was crossing the street in a Bronx crosswalk and was struck by a bus that did not give her the right of way; tragically, she died from her injuries
- $2,005,000 settlement for a taxi passenger who suffered knee, head, and back injuries when the taxi she was riding in was forcefully struck by an ambulance while proceeding through an intersection
- $1,900,000 settlement for a union plumber who needed cervical fusion surgery after he was hit by another vehicle that did not yield the right of way at a Brooklyn intersection
- $1,450,000 settlement for a Brooklyn art teacher who suffered multiple injuries when she was struck by a bus while making a right turn at an intersection
- $1,200,000 settlement for a 43-year-old man who required spinal fusion surgery after his vehicle was T-boned by another vehicle at an intersection