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New York Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

Pedestrian accidents can devastate lives, as a pedestrian is no physical match for a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds. Even if the high rate of traumatic brain injury associated with pedestrian accidents doesn’t apply in your case, a pedestrian accident has a high potential to divide your life into “before” and “after.”

The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy are dedicated to providing the best service for victims enduring hardships because of someone else’s negligence. Our track record in pedestrian cases includes multiple record-breaking results, including a $32 million jury verdict for a Vietnam veteran who suffered devastating injuries after he was hit by a drug-impaired driver.

Need to Know

  • Your rights as a pedestrian accident victim include no-fault insurance through the driver of the vehicle that struck you, as well as the ability to recoup lost earnings on a no-fault basis up to $2,000 per month.
  • New York is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that you may still recover damages if you are found to be partially at fault in your accident.
  • Block O’Toole & Murphy distinguishes itself from other firms by early and thorough investigation and a constant view toward trial.

In This Article

What If I’m Partly Responsible for the Accident?

Unfortunately, many pedestrian accident victims deal with not having their accidents taken seriously by others, particularly if they failed to follow traffic regulations to the letter. For example, crossing a street against a “Don’t Walk” sign is, legally speaking, negligent behavior—but ordinary people do it all the time, particularly in New York City, where following other walkers through a congested intersection may mean the difference between getting to work on time or not. 

If you are wondering whether legal action is advisable in your own pedestrian case, you should know that New York is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that even if you are found to have some share of negligence, you may still recover damages from any share of negligence that was caused by the driver.

In one case that Block O’Toole & Murphy handled, our client—according to the testimony of multiple witnesses—not only walked against a “Don’t Walk” sign but did it backwards. Attempting to get his bearings to an unfamiliar location, he was talking on his phone while examining a sign behind him when he was hit by a bus, suffering from serious injuries as a result.

Our client was obviously negligent in taking the actions that he did, and our handling attorneys were straightforward on this point throughout the case. However, investigators that we sent to the scene, measuring the crosswalk and analyzing details such as the speed of the bus and the point of impact, were able to determine that our client was already in the roadway by the time the bus that hit him moved into the intersection. Although the bus driver had the right of way, he had a responsibility to register the presence of our client in the roadway, and to slow and stop accordingly. We were able to settle for $500,000 on behalf of that client.

As this story hopefully illustrates, liability in pedestrian accidents is often complicated—not least because it may be difficult for the victim to fully understand what happened. Only an experienced attorney, with the benefit of legal insight and means to investigate adequately, can determine how liability may operate in your specific case, so it’s important to consult one early. A good attorney will never pursue a case that is not viable and will not judge you in the event that your case falls into that category, provided you are honest about what occurred. In any event, you are doing the responsible thing by seeking legal advice about your accident.

Immediate Crucial Information

Many pedestrian accident victims are clearly injured and therefore likely to receive immediate medical attention on the scene, so a medical record of the accident is a given. However, if you do not appear to be seriously injured, it is still important to call 911 as soon as possible to receive an immediate medical evaluation. First, a medical professional will be able to assess any injury that may not be immediately apparent, allowing you to take action before the problem worsens.  This issue often surfaces with head injuries and spine trauma.  Second, the call will allow you to generate a record of the incident.

However, until you have retained an attorney, you should be careful not to speak to investigators associated with the defendant or to the defendant’s insurance company if they attempt to contact you. Your attorney should be part of that conversation, as well as the decision to have it.

Meanwhile, pedestrian accident victims in New York State have several rights of which you should immediately be aware.

  • If you, as a pedestrian, are injured by a vehicle in New York State, you have the right to have your medical expenses, up to $50,000, paid through the vehicle’s no-fault insurance. You do not have to prove fault on the part of the driver to receive this compensation, and it applies regardless of whether you or the driver is a resident of New York State. However, you have only 30 days from the date of your accident to file a claim with the driver’s insurance provider by notifying the insurer, in writing, of the details of the incident. This deadline is critical and means that you should be proactive in your efforts to consult with an attorney.
  • If your injuries in a pedestrian accident result in loss of earnings, you have a right to have those earnings recouped pursuant to the de minimis no-fault laws in the State of New York: 80% of your salary, not to exceed $2,000 per month.

For more information about No-Fault insurance claims, see here.

The Importance of Early Investigation

Unfortunately, some personal injury firms have lengthy timelines for investigation, reviewing a case 30 days after submission and considering the investigation after months have elapsed. It is the policy of Block O’Toole & Murphy to conduct an initial investigation as soon as our firm is retained. Within a few days, a witness’s memories can become unreliable, existing security footage may be overwritten, and the defense has the opportunity to gather evidence during this period. We go to the scene as soon as possible to search for witnesses, enlist the help of experts to analyze data, and act quickly to obtain any surveillance footage that might be available. We endeavor to beat the defense to the punch on every case.

A recent case that came under Block O’Toole & Murphy’s investigation highlights the way this approach sets us apart. A Brooklyn man walking his dog was struck by a municipal sanitation vehicle, causing injuries that necessitated surgeries to his neck, back, knee and shoulder. The driver of the vehicle suggested that the man had darted between two parked cars while crossing the street from left to right, which would have placed him 100% at fault. The trouble was that this story was simply not true.

The victim initially called a well-known firm in New York City. Telling him that they were not yet ready to sign his case, the firm assured him that they would get back to him. Time, however, was of the essence—and not just because of the potential loss of evidence. A municipal case requires the victim to file a notice of claim within 90 days—only three short months.

Recognizing the need for rapid action, the victim waited four or five days to hear back from the firm he had initially called. Then he called Block O’Toole & Murphy. Our attorneys had investigators on the scene of the accident that afternoon.

The investigation turned up surveillance footage from a nearby schoolyard. This footage showed that while our client was crossing the street from right to left, the sanitation vehicle rolled through a stop sign, made a left-hand turn, and ran our client over.  Obviously, this was a very different story than the fabricated version initially crafted by the truck driver. Because we acted immediately to obtain the footage before it could be erased, we were able to clearly demonstrate that the fault was with the defendant driver.

Case Study: $8,000,000 For Homeless Man Struck by Tandem Bus

Another case handled by Block O’Toole & Murphy highlights the special need for rapid investigation in pedestrian accidents, when the memories of victims themselves are frequently unreliable.

Our client was a homeless man who had been struck by a tandem bus. Attempting to recall what had happened, he said that he had stepped from behind another bus that was in the street. Had this been the case, the driver would have had no chance of perceiving him, and he would have been fully at fault for what happened. However, rather than take his perception of the incident for granted, we sought out objective evidence.

Our investigators were able to obtain surveillance footage of the incident from a Popeye’s Fried Chicken restaurant nearby. The footage clearly showed that our client did not step from behind a bus. Rather, he had crossed the right travel lane and was clearly visible to the driver of the bus.

In his initial report immediately following the accident, the defendant driver had told a story which the surveillance tape contradicted. Our handling attorneys were able to confront him with the surveillance footage when they took his deposition, making it clear that his version of events was not accurate.

This case not only highlights the importance of early investigation, but of knowing what to look for in that investigation. Getting a complete picture of what had happened required not only the surveillance tape, but black box data from the bus. (Attorneys can retrieve black box data in a number of ways, from serving a Freedom of Information Act request against a municipal vehicle to formally requesting it in a preservation letter, which would make the defendant guilty of tampering or “spoliation” of evidence if he or she were to get rid of the data.)

The black box data confirmed that the accident occurred because the driver illegally negotiated his turn at 14 miles per hour—almost twice the legal maximum for a driver operating a tandem bus. His turn was so wide and fast that he crossed over the double yellow line that separated the north and southbound lanes, forcing him to turn hard to the right, hitting the gas, to avoid an oncoming car. It was there that the bus struck our client.

The earliest statements in the accident implicated our client—even the statements made by our client himself. Because of evidence gathered in early investigation which might have been impossible to find later on, we were able to settle for $8,000,000 on his behalf. 

Case Study: $32,756,156 Verdict for Vietnam Veteran Hit by Impaired Driver

Our client, a 56-year-old Vietnam veteran, father of two and grandfather of two, was driving home with his wife from a child’s birthday party when they encountered a three-car accident up ahead. Our client, who knew CPR, unhesitatingly stopped to help, instructing his wife to call 911 while he reassured the victims of the accident. While he was offering a statement to the police, a heavily impaired driver, with cocaine, marijuana and painkillers in her system, crashed through the police barrier and caught our client on the windshield of her car. She continued to drive until a fire chief on the scene caught up with her on foot, dove through her window, and threw the car into park. Our client suffered from brain damage so severe that he would require 24-hour nursing care for the rest of his life.

It was clear from the start that our client was blameless in his accident and that the court result would favor him, but this assurance was not enough for partners Stephen J. Murphy and Daniel P. O’Toole, who handled the case. The loss that our client faced—that of his health, his independence, his peace of mind, and the vibrant and loving personality so appreciated by his friends and family—was beyond repair.

Murphy and O’Toole worked to make the jury grasp his new reality, obtaining videos from the facility where he was institutionalized, demonstrating for the jury what a day in his life was like—the extensive therapy he required to perform the smallest actions and the assistance he needed at every moment. They illustrated his life before the accident occurred with photographs, videos, and testimony from loved ones, painting an unmistakable picture of the magnitude of what had been lost. Because of their efforts, our client and his family were awarded $32,756,156—then the largest negligence result in Long Island history.

Consider the unusual clarity of this case, involving a man beloved and respected in his community, who did nothing to invite what befell him other than stopping to help others, and who was the victim of the worst criminal negligence imaginable from an impaired and reckless driver.

At a surface level, it could not be more different from the prior case, in which our homeless client—who had crack cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the incident, and whose own initial testimony spoke against him—could easily have been dismissed as liable for his accident. Yet in both cases, an innocent victim suffered from a negligent driver.

We treated these cases with the same care, the same caution, and the same investigative effort, neither relying on the clarity of the veteran’s case to secure a good result, nor neglecting to investigate the finest details of the homeless man’s accident to be certain that we found out the truth and obtained justice on his behalf.

Block O’Toole & Murphy: Adopting a Trial-Ready Approach

One of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents is drivers who fail to look a few yards down the road. When it comes to preparing cases, the attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy don’t make the same mistake. Approximately 95% to 97% of cases settle out of court, and many personal injury attorneys operate under the assumption of that probable resolution. But our attorneys are trial lawyers, and even when settlement is the most likely result, they keep the eventuality of a trial in mind from the very first day of investigation, building the case that they would need to demonstrate in court. The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are envisioning their summation and mentally building the evidentiary foundation of the pedestrian accident trial as soon as they are retained.

Our long view of the case has led to unrivaled pedestrian accident results, including:

  • $13,500,000 record-breaking settlement for a woman who suffered brain injuries after being struck by a company-owned car (largest reported settlement of a personal injury case in Suffolk County, New York)
  • $12,000,000 settlement in Brooklyn case for a child standing on the sidewalk at the time of the collision. The client is expected to receive a $71,643,000 payout based on the $12,000,000 structured settlement annuity.
  • $9,950,000 settlement for a social worker who sustained a leg amputation after she was hit by a van in a parking lot in Buffalo, New York
  • $9,500,000 settlement in Brooklyn case for a pedestrian who was crossing the street when he was struck, knocked down, and dragged by a public bus, causing him to suffer serious injuries, including partial amputation of his right leg
  • $8,800,000 settlement for a pedestrian who suffered a traumatic brain injury after she was hit by a van in Ozone Park, Queens
  • $5,000,000 recovery in a wrongful death case for loved ones of a woman killed by a garbage truck while she was walking on the sidewalk in Midtown West
  • $4,000,000 settlement for a pedestrian who was hit by an automobile while walking within a crosswalk in Bushwick, Brooklyn
  • $4,000,000 settlement for a man who was searching through the trunk of his car when he was hit by a vehicle in Forest Hills, New York
  • $4,000,000 settlement for a pedestrian who suffered lifelong ankle and foot injuries after being struck by a car while crossing the street in Claremont Village, Bronx
  • $3,450,000 settlement in a Queens case for a pedestrian with multiple fractures after he was hit by a bus while crossing the street within the crosswalk
  • $2,800,000 recovery for a pedestrian hit by a vehicle that rolled onto the sidewalk because of a two-car collision in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
  • $2,750,000 settlement in a Bronx, New York case for a pedestrian who was struck by a van while attempting to cross the street
  • $2,500,000 award in a Brooklyn case for a pedestrian who was hit by a large truck and suffered a right leg crush injury
  • $2,200,000 settlement for a 60-year-old pedestrian who was hit by an NYC Transit bus that was attempting to turn left in Flatlands, Brooklyn
  • $2,100,000 recovery for a pedestrian accident victim who suffered serious head injuries
  • $2,056,656 jury verdict for a high school teacher who suffered neck and lower back injuries after she was struck by a public bus in Brooklyn Heights
  • $1,700,000 settlement for a woman who was hit by a left-turning vehicle while she was walking to work in the Bronx
  • $1,500,000 settlement in a Bronx case for pedestrian who was attempting to cross Bruckner Boulevard within the crosswalk at the time of the collision
  • $1,500,000 recovery for pedestrian who suffered retrograde amnesia after she was hit by a van in the Bronx
  • $1,500,000 settlement for a 33-year-old mother who was struck by a tow truck that was backing up in Melrose, Bronx
  • $1,500,000 settlement in a Manhattan case for a woman hit by a car owned by the City of New York in Tribeca

If you or a loved one has been injured by a vehicle, the experienced attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy want to hear from you. We serve all five boroughs of New York City and the entire New York State. Contact Block O’Toole & Murphy to receive a free legal consultation by calling 212-736-5300, or by filling out our online contact form.

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