January 20, 2015
Watch Out For These Winter Pedestrian Accident Hazards In New York
By Jonathan Damashek
Pedestrian deaths are so common in New York that they may soon outstrip the numbers of homicides in the city. In 2013, vehicles killed 286 people, and vehicle-related fatalities are increasing. They are up 15% from 2012. More than half of all traffic fatalities in New York are pedestrians, as compared to a national average of 13%, an indicator of the level of risk New York pedestrians face.
A high percentage of the pedestrian accidents are vehicle-related, and many others involve a slip or trip and fall. In either case, the injuries sustained are often catastrophic or fatal.
Over the last decade, vehicles have killed almost 2,000 people in NYC, with 30,000 suffering injuries that required hospitalization. There are various local conditions and situations that contribute to the alarming number of winter pedestrian accidents:
Weather conditions contribute to the numbers of slip and fall pedestrian accidents in New York, but the condition of sidewalks can be a factor. Uneven walking surfaces, collapsed sidewalks, tripping hazards, hardware trip hazards, tree roots, improper slopes and patchwork repairs as well as potholes and other types of hazards create a situation that endangers pedestrians.
A slip and fall often leads to a serious or fatal head and brain injury, broken bones, shoulder, arm, elbow, knee, back, hand and spinal cord injuries. City leaders and the Department of Transportation are involved in increasing awareness and creating safer streets for the hundreds of thousands of people of all ages walking throughout the city every day, but the costs involved in street repair and the number of personnel available to fix serious safety issues can delay repairs, leaving dangerous conditions unresolved. Some property owners simply do not take action to repair the sidewalks adjoining their property.
Who is responsible for repairing the sidewalks? Under New York’s Administrative Code, Section 19-152, property owners hold the responsibility for maintaining the sidewalks adjoining their property in a reasonably safe condition. When repairs are not completed in a timely manner, the City may send workers to repair the sidewalk, and bill the property owner for the repairs. The property owner is also responsible for keeping sidewalks clear of snow. If a property owner fails to remove snow and ice in a reasonable period of time after a storm, and a serious injury occurs, a legal action could be filed against that property owner.
The types of injuries sustained range from minor soft tissue injuries to catastrophic injuries from which the victim will never fully recover, to loss of life. Some of the most tragic cases involve children who die or become permanently disabled when hit by a vehicle. Our elderly residents are far more likely to become a victim of uneven or dangerous sidewalks, and are also at risk of being hit by a vehicle while crossing an intersection, as they often require longer to cross the street due to advanced age.
If you were injured in any type of pedestrian accident, contact Hecht, Kleeger and Damashek to discuss the accident. Early investigation by a pedestrian accident lawyer can be crucial to obtaining and preserving evidence of negligence, as well as identifying all of the parties that could be held accountable when filing a claim or lawsuit.