Albany Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Each year in the four-county Capital District region, pedestrian deaths are over-represented in traffic fatality counts. In Albany, pedestrian accidents account for about 36 percent of all the city’s fatal and serious injury crashes.
If a pedestrian accident injured you, an Albany pedestrian accident lawyer from Finkelstein & Partners can provide you with a free case evaluation to help you understand how to obtain compensation for the expenses and quality-of-life impacts incurred because of your injury.
We have been protecting the rights of the injured to recover damages through courts in New York for over 60 years.
While these are only past results and cannot guarantee a particular outcome in all cases, our strong track record of successful case results include:
- An $8.3 million settlement for a five-year-old child who was struck and dragged by a vehicle after buying ice cream.
- A $2.3 million settlement for a man who was struck as a pedestrian by a distracted driver and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
- A $2 million wrongful death settlement for the family of an 81-year-old man who was struck and dragged across a shopping plaza parking lot.
Phones, Alcohol, Weed, and SUVs: Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies in a pedestrian accident on U.S. roadways every 88 minutes, and doctors treat about 137,000 more in emergency departments for non-fatal crash injuries. Per trip, pedestrians are more than 1.5 times more likely to die in a traffic-related accident than the occupants of passenger cars.
Those who are at particular risk of a pedestrian accident are adults over 65 years old. They account for about 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths and 10 percent of all pedestrian injuries—and children under the age of 15. About 20 percent of all children in this age group who die in traffic accidents are pedestrians.
A study conducted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) revealed that the number of pedestrian accidents on U.S. roadways increased by 53 percent over a decade. In that same timeframe, all other types of traffic accidents increased by roughly 2 percent.
These factors may account for the sharp increase in pedestrian accidents:
- Alcohol impairment: In about half of all pedestrian accidents in the U.S., either the pedestrian or a motorist involved has a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.
- SUVs: Pedestrian accidents most often involve passenger cars. However, pedestrian accidents involving SUVs and light trucks increased 81 percent over the decade analyzed in the study. SUVs pose an increased risk of serious injury or death to pedestrians due to the higher point of impact presented by taller vehicles. Additionally, studies suggest that motorists in SUVs—which account for nearly half of all new auto sales in the U.S.—often feel emboldened to take unnecessary driving risks due to the larger, heavier body of the SUV, which feels safer to occupants.
- Cell phone use: The decade involved in the study was the decade in which smartphones became commonplace and a major cause of distracted drivers. Drivers may use illegally use phones to text, browse social media posts, and read and reply to emails. They also mount them to dashboards in vehicles to access a GPS or even watch videos or movies while driving. Driving distractions involve anything that causes the driver to take his or her hands from the wheel, his or her eyes from watching the roadway, or his or her mind from the task of safe driving. Cell phone use often features all three types of distractions and results in drivers traveling for hundreds of feet at a time without paying attention to the roadway.
- The legalization of marijuana: While there is not enough evidence to conclusively determine whether legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use has increased the number of pedestrian accidents caused by marijuana impairment, researchers believe this will happen. In New York, it is now legal for individuals 21 and older to possess and transport up to three ounces of cannabis or up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis oil. However, while New York drivers may possess and transport the drug, driving while high is not legal and causes deficits in a person’s ability to exercise good judgment and respond appropriately in emergencies, such as when a pedestrian steps off the sidewalk into the roadway in front of the car.
- Darkness: Pedestrian accidents most commonly occur after the sun has gone down. Pedestrians are not always as visible to motorists as other cars. This is particularly true on dark or unmarked roadways.
- Speeding: On unmarked intersections, pedestrians often must judge a sufficient gap in traffic will allow them to make it across the road. Speeding vehicles make it impossible for pedestrians to make this determination accurately, increasing the risk that a car will strike them as they cross the road. Additionally, increased speed requires a longer distance for the driver to bring the vehicle to a safe stop.
Albany-Specific Pedestrian Dangers
There are pedestrian dangers that exist for walkers everywhere. There are also region-specific dangers.
Some of the dangers that pedestrians in Albany face include:
- Street designs throughout the city that are often antiquated and don’t provide sidewalks or designated bicycle lanes for slower-moving users of the roadway.
- A lack of automated street signals that tell pedestrians when they have the right-of-way. Many of the signals in Albany will only change if someone presses a button. If a pedestrian is unaware that they must press the button to activate the signal, they can become injured while attempting to cross against the light.
- Lack of education for motorists about pedestrian safety and uneven enforcement of laws that are in place to prevent pedestrian accidents.
Where Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur?
The most common place for pedestrian accidents to occur is on urban, non-interstate roadways. They can happen in marked crosswalks, intersections that are not marked for pedestrian traffic, or other non-intersection areas of the roadway where a driver does not expect a pedestrian to cross.
Parking lots are also a common location for pedestrian accidents, as they often feature a high amount of foot traffic near backing vehicles.
Common Injuries Suffered in Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians are at such a high risk of injury in traffic-related accidents because of the lack of protection their bodies have against impact from a larger, heavier, faster-moving vehicle. The point of impact is often the source of the most significant injury.
This means that children and smaller-sized adult pedestrians will often suffer the most severe injuries to the head and chest region, while adults and larger children will often suffer the most severe injuries to the abdomen and lower extremities. The point of impact depends on the height of the vehicle’s grill and the height of the pedestrian.
Some of the most serious injuries a pedestrian can suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, which involve damage to the brain that is caused by a sudden jolt or blow to the head or body. The brain controls the body’s functions and involuntary responses. However, despite its importance, it only has a limited ability to heal from injury. Because of this, the deficits from the injury are permanent. Common deficits resulting from a brain injury include memory loss, the inability to communicate or to understand verbal communication, difficulty with balanced and coordinated movement, and difficulty controlling one’s behavior, emotions, or impulses.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist and the bony covering of the spine protects it. The spinal cord, along with the brain, makes up the central nervous system. It serves as a messenger between the brain and other parts of the body. Unfortunately, like the brain, the spinal cord only has a limited ability to heal from injury. Spinal cord injuries often cause loss of sensation and function to the parts of the body located beneath the injury site, which is known as paralysis. Neck injuries will often paralyze all of the limbs, the torso, hips, and pelvis, a condition known as tetraplegia, or quadriplegia. Injuries occurring lower on the spinal cord can produce paralysis in the legs, pelvis, hips, and feet. This is known as paraplegia.
- Soft tissue injuries, which include contusions, sprains, strains, lacerations, dislocations, and tears to muscles or ligaments. These injuries can result in chronic problems that need surgical repairs that cause scarring and pain.
- Broken bones, including the hips, ribs, or legs due to impact from the vehicle, the ground, or other objects. It is common for pedestrians to suffer injuries to their wrists and elbows because of the body’s instinct to outstretch the arms to “catch itself” when falling.
Recovering Damages After a Pedestrian Accident
If you or your child was injured in a pedestrian accident in Albany, or your loved one died after a car struck them, you can seek compensation for your expenses and impacts. You generally have three years to file your claim.
If you have lost a spouse, child, or parent to a pedestrian accident, a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. Like a pedestrian accident lawsuit, a wrongful death claim is a legal action filed in civil court. You must generally file your lawsuit within two years of the date of death.
Both wrongful death and pedestrian accident lawsuits attempt to show who caused the accident and the expenses and psychological impacts you incurred because of your injury. To prove liability, you must show that the at-fault party’s negligence caused the accident.
Your Albany pedestrian lawyer can do this by establishing:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The term duty of care refers to the type of behavior a reasonable person would take in the circumstances to avoid causing harm to others. The duty of care that a motorist owes to others on the roadway, including pedestrians, is to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care. Breaches in the duty of care owed to pedestrians by motorists commonly include actions such as speeding, distracted driving, failure to yield the right-of-way, or impairment, as they are neither safe nor legal driving practices.
- The breach in the duty of care resulted in the accident, which caused you to become injured. These injuries caused you to incur financial expenses and psychological costs, including pain and suffering and the loss of the enjoyment of life.
An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer from Finkelstein & Partners can ensure your right to obtain the maximum amount of compensation available in your case. Read on for answers to questions our clients most frequently ask about obtaining compensation after an Albany pedestrian accident.
Our Albany Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Answer Your Frequently Asked Questions
Whether your pedestrian accident occurred near Washington Park or it occurred in a parking lot at Crossgates Mall, the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries is often a complex one filled with numerous possibilities and hypotheticals. For answers to questions about your specific case, contact us for your free case evaluation.
Is the motorist always liable for a pedestrian accident?
Actually, other liable parties can cause pedestrian accidents as well, including:
- Other motorists whose careless or reckless actions caused a driver to strike a pedestrian.
- The owner or manager of a property in which a pedestrian accident was caused in the parking lot due to a hazard such as obstructed view.
- The manufacturer or distributor of auto parts, such as brakes, if a product defect resulted in a pedestrian accident.
- The owner or manager of a bar or restaurant that served the motorist alcohol if the accident occurred because of alcohol impairment and the motorist was a minor or was visibly impaired when the business provided the alcohol.
Do drivers owe a special duty of care to children?
In many cases, yes. Because child pedestrians are more likely to step out into the street without looking for traffic and less likely to accurately judge a gap in traffic, drivers must use an abundance of caution when driving where children walk or play, including areas around schools, parks, and even residential neighborhoods. Often, the speed limits will reduce in these areas to account for the possibility of a child darting into the roadway.
Drivers are also required to use additional care when driving behind school buses, and it is illegal to pass a school bus when it is stopped with its red warning lights flashing and its warning arm extended.
What damages I can obtain in an Albany pedestrian accident lawsuit?
In New York, pedestrian accident claimants can seek to recover both economic and non-economic damages. The word damages, in this type of legal process, refers to compensation for harm.
Economic damages, then, are provided as compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred due to your injury, such as:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of emergency treatment, ambulance transport, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, physician and surgical services, physical therapy and rehabilitation, the provision of assistive devices such as prosthetic limbs, a wheelchair, or crutches, and prescription medication.
- Lost wages for the time you miss work due to your injury.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in permanent deficits and you can no longer as much as before the accident.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation you receive for the quality-of-life impacts you have experienced because of your injury, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your accident prevents you from participating in activities and events that you previously enjoyed.
- Loss of consortium, which is collected on behalf of the injured person’s spouse for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that is often experienced with serious injuries.
What damages I can obtain if a pedestrian accident kills my loved one?
If you have lost a loved one such as a child, parent, or spouse to a pedestrian accident, you can benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit filed on your behalf by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate.
Some damages you can recover through a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- The cost of funeral services and burial or cremation.
- The cost of medical treatment of the deceased’s final injuries.
- The cost of support and services that the deceased provided for his or her loved ones.
- Wages and benefits you lost between the time when the accident occurred and the deceased’s death.
- Lost inheritance for surviving children.
- The loss of parental nurturing and care experienced by surviving children.
- Conscious pain and suffering that the deceased experienced between the time of injury and the time of death.
- Nine percent interest on the damages award, calculated from the date of death.
My pedestrian accident was a hit-and-run. Is there compensation available for me?
Hit-and-run accidents are among the most difficult to obtain compensation for, as the pedestrian accident process requires identifying a named at-fault party, and often, an insurance policy. If the police locate the driver who hit you, then you can obtain this information.
Otherwise, our experienced car accident attorneys can investigate the accident to identify potentially liable parties, or help you look at your own personal insurance policies as a possible source of compensation, such as your personal injury protection (PIP) policy, your comprehensive and collision coverage, or your health insurance policy.
A car hit me, but I don’t feel like I am seriously hurt. Should I seek medical treatment?
Yes, you should always seek a medical evaluation after you have been in an accident, because:
- Adrenaline and shock from the accident could be masking the pain of your injuries so that you are not aware of how serious they are. This often does not wear off for an hour or more.
- Many serious injuries present with delayed symptoms, including internal injuries as well as some traumatic brain injuries. Waiting until the injuries can be felt often results in worsening conditions and can even place you in jeopardy for dangerous complications such as internal bleeding.
- Seeking prompt medical treatment develops a paper trail of evidence that you will likely need to prove your case.
My child was injured in an Albany pedestrian accident. Can I file a claim on her behalf?
Yes. As a parent or legal guardian, you have the right to file an accident claim on her behalf. Your child cannot file a claim on her own, however, until she is 18. New York allows child injury claimants three years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a pedestrian accident claim to obtain compensation for injuries incurred in a pedestrian accident when they were a child.
I was hit while I was crossing outside of the crosswalk. Does that mean I don’t have a case?
When there is not a marked crosswalk, drivers have the right-of-way. This does not mean, however, that drivers may put pedestrians at risk in these areas. This also does not excuse risky driving behaviors such as distracted driving or speeding. Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely—do not assume anything about the strength of your case until you have had the incident thoroughly evaluated by an experienced Albany pedestrian accident attorney.
Do I have to pay taxes on the settlement or judgment I receive for my Albany pedestrian accident?
According to the Internal Revenue Service, compensation that you receive through a personal injury settlement or award is not considered income and is, therefore, not subject to tax.
There is an exception to that rule as it pertains to punitive damages, however. Courts may award punitive damages if plaintiffs prove that the defendant acted with complete disregard for the health and safety of others. Because punitive damages do not compensate you for the injury but punish the defendant for his or her egregious behavior, the IRS taxes this portion of the award.
Additionally, if you claim medical expenses as a deduction on your taxes and then later obtain compensation for medical expenses, you will be expected to repay the deduction.
The at-fault party’s insurance adjuster has already offered me a settlement. Should I accept it?
It is not uncommon for the insurance carrier of the at-fault party to offer a quick settlement, particularly if their insured was clearly liable. However, it is almost always a mistake for an accident victim to accept this initial settlement.
Here are some reasons why:
- Early after the injury, you do not have a complete picture of the expenses you will incur because of the injury, or how the injury will impact your quality of life. Until you have definitive answers on these costs and impacts, it is impossible to know if the offer will fairly compensate you. If you accept the settlement, you cannot seek additional compensation even if you realize that the settlement you received was not enough.
- The insurance adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money by reducing and eliminating the amount it pays out to compensate those who were harmed by its insured. They do this by offering a low settlement in exchange for a quick resolution to the case.
Why do I need an attorney? Wouldn’t it be easier to file the lawsuit on my own?
An experienced Albany pedestrian accident attorney not only brings legal experience to your case, but also a deep understanding of the type of compensation you will need to recover and move forward from your injury.
Many of these services would be very difficult to obtain on your own, such as:
- A free case evaluation, which is time with an attorney for you to obtain answers to your legal questions and learn more about the process of recovering damages.
- A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be used to compensate you.
- A determination of the value of your case based on the expenses and impacts you have already experienced because of your injury as well as those you will likely experience in the future.
- Skilled negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- Timely filing of all court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction, and attendance and representation at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- The gathering and organization of evidence and witness testimony that can be used to prove your claim.
- Litigation, including tasks such as the delivery of opening and closing arguments, the examination of witnesses, and the presentation of evidence.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
- A client-friendly contingent-fee payment arrangement. This that you do not owe us for our services until we have obtained a positive outcome to your case.
Let the experienced Albany personal injury lawyers at Finkelstein & Partners help you understand the process of seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (518) 452-2813.
1707 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12205