Help and Hope for Surviving Loved Ones of Fatal Pedestrian Accident Victims
Few accidents are more horrific than getting struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing a street, navigating a sidewalk or walking on the side of the road. Fatal pedestrian accidents are almost entirely preventable if we, as a society, uniformly embrace the concept of safe driving. Yet fatal pedestrian accidents still happen with startling regularity.
On average, a pedestrian is killed roughly every 75 minutes nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many victims are elders and children. And because they don’t have the protection of a vehicle around them, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in an accident than drivers or passengers, according to that same source.
If a deadly pedestrian accident has tragically robbed you of a loved one, you deserve justice and you need an experienced and successful law firm to fight for you. At Block O’Toole & Murphy, we provide skilled legal representation for surviving loved ones of those tragically killed in deadly pedestrian accidents in New York. We have handled many wrongful death cases for families and delivered results. When we are retained by a family in the wake of a tragic accident, we take our responsibility very seriously. We recognize that our role is not only to seek top financial compensation for the victim’s family, but also to provide moral support and honor the victim’s memory. When your family retains Block O’Toole & Murphy, we are not only available to answer your legal questions, we are also here to talk about your grief, help with arrangements and do whatever we can to relieve stress and suffering during your most difficult time.
We are a nationally top-ranked injury law firm, and our lawyers have numerous awards to their names – not to mention the results to show it. Our legal team has recovered more than $1.5 billion for serious personal injury and wrongful death victims and their families. While no amount of money can ever replace your loved one, bringing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you secure accountability, justice and closure; and provide financial security for your family. When tragedy does strike, you need a serious law firm that has handled wrongful death cases with regularity and success; and that firm is Block O’Toole & Murphy.
How Fatal Pedestrian Accidents Happen
Pedestrian accidents can happen in an instant, and they often happen without warning. Their startling and sudden nature makes them all the more horrific.
Pedestrian deaths almost always involve some negligence on the part of the driver and, in some cases, third parties such as auto part manufacturers. Common contributing factors include:
- Driver inattention
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving
- Driver fatigue
- Speeding or driving too fast for the conditions
- Failure to yield
- Defective brakes or other auto parts
- Poor intersection design
- Poorly marked crosswalks
- Inadequate street lighting
- Intoxicated driving (alcohol or drugs)
It often takes a skilled investigation to pinpoint wrongdoing and gather sufficient evidence. Our legal team knows how to build a strong case from the outset, laying the foundation for victory and a solid recovery.
When and Where They Happen
Roughly 80% of pedestrian deaths happen in urban areas, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Not surprisingly, New York City is a hotspot for pedestrian accidents. The high volume of traffic – both on vehicles and on foot –creates a recipe for danger when careless drivers are behind the wheel.
Although pedestrian accidents can happen anywhere, more take place on the open road versus at intersections (76% versus 24%), according to the same NHTSA source cited above. The majority happen after dark, and they’re more prevalent on weekends than weekdays.
Pedestrian-Related Traffic Laws in New York and New Jersey
Both New York and New Jersey have traffic laws to protect pedestrians from getting injured or killed by cars. For example:
- Drivers must always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections when pedestrians have the right-of-way. (NYC Traffic Rules & Regulations section 4-04, New York Vehicle & Traffic Law section 1146)
- Pedestrians must use sidewalks and crosswalks whenever possible. (New York Vehicle & Traffic Law sections 1155-1156)
- Pedestrians crossing without crosswalks should wait for a gap in traffic. (New York Vehicle & Traffic Law section 1152)
- At driveways and alleyways, drivers should yield to pedestrians crossing from the sidewalk. (New York Vehicle & Traffic Law section 1151-a)
- Drivers must use due caution to avoid hitting pedestrians. (New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1146)
City ordinances may provide additional traffic rules regarding pedestrians.
Even in cases where the pedestrian did not have the right-of-way, surviving family members may still have a strong case for compensation if the driver was negligent.
One measurement of dangerous areas for pedestrians is the rate of drivers cited for failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. These cities and boroughs made the list of top 20 most dangerous cities nationwide for drivers’ failure to yield, according to one insurance study.
- Staten Island (No. 1)
- The Bronx (No. 2)
- Brooklyn (No. 4)
- Manhattan (No. 6)
As you can see, areas of New York City are prominently represented on this list for this important metric, which can be a predictor of a high rate of pedestrians killed by cars.
How to Hold Drivers Accountable through a Wrongful Death Claim
Surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of a pedestrian killed by a truck, tractor trailer, bus or car. A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury case, but they’re often more complicated than standard injury cases. The stakes are also a lot higher because of the loss of life involved.
The process for wrongful death claims typically involves:
- Conducting a thorough investigation to gather evidence and build a case
- Identifying liable parties and their insurance coverages
- In the event the victim died without a Will (‘intestate’), working with the Surrogate Court to establish an Estate with an appropriate administrator (who is typically a close family member, but does not have to be)
- Filing a Lawsuit after an Estate is legally established
- Engage in critical discovery to continue building your case
- Pursuing settlement negotiations
- Preparing the case for trial
- Winning at trial, if settlement negotiations prove unfruitful
- Petitioning the Surrogate for an appropriate distribution of the settlement funds to beneficiaries, which could be a surviving spouse, children, siblings or others depending on the family and the applicable Estates Powers and Trusts Laws of New York (“EPTL”). The EPTL is a body of New York laws that outlines rules regarding how property of a decedent will be distributed if not otherwise outlined in a will. These are also known as ‘rules of intestate succession’.
Of course, every case is different, and not all cases go to trial. Our lawyers have superior trial skills and are proven winners in court. Recently, two of our Partners – Daniel P. O’Toole and Scott Occhiogrosso – secured a verdict of over $110 Million in Brooklyn. The defense industry knows and respects our firm because of our track record, and our current and future clients benefit from that reputation when we fight for them. We always diligently prepare every single case for the possibility of trial, which also lays the groundwork for stronger settlement negotiations.
Damages for Surviving Loved Ones in Fatal Pedestrian Accident Cases
By pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one, you can seek compensation for:
- Your loved one’s medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of your loved one’s financial support, including loss of expected inheritance
- Loss of parental guidance
- Your loved one’s pain and suffering
- Your loved one’s fear of impending death
- Other losses resulting from your loved one’s untimely death
Fighting To Change New York’s Wrongful Death Law
Block O’Toole & Murphy not only fights for wrongful death victims in the courtroom. Our attorneys are also involved in legislative efforts to change New York’s wrongful death law so that it allows for more categories of recoverable damages; specifically to allow for close surviving family members to be compensated for their grief after the loss of a loved one.
In some cases, extra compensation – called punitive damages – may be available if the driver’s conduct was especially egregious or malicious. Drunk driving cases involving an extremely high blood alcohol concentration are one example. Punitive damages can be significant – six or seven figures or more, on top of the damages for the items listed above.
Securing adequate damages in cases involving pedestrians killed by cars requires gathering concrete evidence. That may entail documentation of expenses as well as expert testimony regarding the happening of the incident and financial projections. Block O’Toole & Murphy only brings in the best, most qualified experts in their respective fields to work on your case. We take no short cuts. We leave no stone unturned. We fight hard to make sure the case is as strong as possible and ready for a successful settlement or trial.
Deadly Pedestrian Accidents Involving Commercial Vehicles
If your loved one was killed by a delivery truck, commercial van, semi truck or another commercial vehicle, the case may be more complicated. Commercial vehicle accidents often involve multiple parties, several insurance coverages and high-stakes legal issues. It’s critical to work with a legal team that has the skill, experience and know-how to handle these complicated cases. We work with the top forensic experts, including engineers and accident reconstructionists, to piece the evidence together and determine what occurred. With commercial vehicles in particular, this often involves extracting crash recovery, or ‘black box’ data from the defendant vehicle and analyzing it carefully to show what the commercial driver did (or failed to do) that led to the crash and untimely death of our client’s loved one.
At Block O’Toole & Murphy, our lawyers have a wealth of experience handling commercial vehicle accident cases involving pedestrian deaths. We know where to look for the evidence, we know the right questions to ask and we have a proven track record of holding all of the appropriate parties responsible – including not just the driver, but also their employer and potentially other parties.
Legal Representation in Fatal Pedestrian Accident Cases
The law firm of Block O’Toole & Murphy offers compassionate and skilled representation in wrongful death lawsuits. Our lawyers specialize in catastrophic injury cases and are considered some of the best in the field of serious personal injury law. Our team is frequently consulted and retained by other lawyers around the State for catastrophic cases because they understand our history of producing top results. Our attorneys are regularly recognized by a number of prominent organizations, including Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers. Since 2012, no other law firm in New York has recovered more results exceeding $1,000,000 than Block O’Toole & Murphy; and many of those results involved wrongful death cases and pedestrian accidents. We have been recognized for top recoveries in serious pedestrian accident cases, including a record-setting $32 million verdict in Suffolk County for a pedestrian hit by a drug-impaired driver and a $13.5 settlement for a young woman who was hit by a car while she was walking home at night.
Select results for survivors who lost loved ones due to fatal pedestrian accidents include:
- $5,000,000 settlement in a Manhattan case for the surviving family after a mother of four was killed by a garbage truck. She and a friend were tourists walking along the sidewalk on 35th Street in Midtown West when a private garbage truck jumped the sidewalk and struck them. As a result of the tragic crash, she suffered blunt force trauma and was declared dead shortly afterward.
- $1,750,000 settlement in a Brooklyn case for two adult children of a beloved mother who was fatally struck by a public bus. She was crossing the street within the crosswalk with the traffic signal in her favor when a left-turning MTA bus fatally struck her.
- $1,000,000 settlement in a Bronx case for the wife of a pedestrian who was crossing the street when he was hit by a van. He suffered serious injuries, eventually slipping into a coma. Tragically, he passed away a week after the crash.
To learn more about our results, please visit the Motor Vehicle Verdicts and Settlements page on our website. Our attorneys are here for you. To discuss your case with an experienced lawyer, please call 212-971-9840 or fill out our Contact Form.