Understanding Liability and Statutes of Limitations in New York Distracted Driver Car-Pedestrian Fatal Accidents
Distracted driving is a plague on our roads, responsible for countless accidents every year. With an increase in mobile technology and in-car distractions, these accidents have become alarmingly common, often leading to catastrophic injuries and death, especially for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians. Consequently, car-pedestrian wrongful death lawsuits are growing in prevalence, particularly in high-traffic areas like New York. This article will delve into the specifics of these deadly accidents, the complex task of determining liability, and the pertinent statutes of limitations in New York. We will reference and hyperlink relevant New York statutes to provide accurate and comprehensive information.
The Problem: Distracted Driving
Distracted driving, defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving, is undeniably dangerous. Distracted driving accidents often involve drivers who were texting, talking on the phone, eating, or using a GPS. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019 alone.
For pedestrians, these accidents can be deadly. In New York City, for example, where pedestrian traffic is high, distracted drivers are a significant safety threat. A report from the New York Department of Transportation revealed that distracted drivers were involved in 21% of pedestrian fatalities in New York City between 2010 and 2014.
Examples of Distracted Driver Car-Pedestrian Accidents
- Texting and Driving: A classic example of distracted driving involves texting while behind the wheel. A driver engrossed in a text conversation fails to notice a pedestrian crossing the road, leading to a fatal collision. According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1225-D, using a portable electronic device while driving is prohibited.
- Eating and Driving: A driver may be enjoying a meal or snack while driving, causing a distraction. While this may not be explicitly illegal, it can lead to negligence claims if it contributes to a fatal accident.
- In-car Distractions: In-car distractions can range from complex infotainment systems to disruptive passengers. If these distractions lead to a fatal accident, the driver can be held accountable.
Determining Liability in Distracted Driver Car-Pedestrian Accidents
Determining liability in distracted driver car-pedestrian accidents involves demonstrating negligence. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. According to New York Civil Practice Law & Rules § 1411, New York follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule. This means that an injured party can recover damages even if they are partially to blame for the accident. However, their recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault.
For example, if a pedestrian jaywalked but the driver was texting at the time of the accident, both parties might share liability. If a court determines the pedestrian was 20% at fault and the driver was 80% at fault, any damages awarded to the pedestrian would be reduced by 20%.
The task of proving negligence typically involves showing:
- Duty of Care: The driver owed a duty of care to the pedestrian, i.e., to operate their vehicle safely and lawfully.
- Breach: The driver breached that duty of care by driving distracted.
- Causation: This breach directly caused the accident.
- Damages: The pedestrian suffered fatal injuries as a result.
Evidence can include witness statements, traffic surveillance videos, cellphone records, accident reconstruction expert testimony, and more.
Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New York
According to New York Estates, Powers, & Trusts Law § 5-4.1, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the person’s death. This is a significantly shorter time frame than many other personal injury cases in New York, which usually have a three-year statute of limitations. It is crucial to consult with a lawyer promptly after the accident to preserve your right to bring a legal claim.
Distracted driver car-pedestrian wrongful death lawsuits are complicated, challenging, and emotional. They require not only understanding but also navigating the nuances of negligence law, determining liability, and abiding by strict statutes of limitations. Legal guidance is often necessary for achieving a fair outcome.
Remember, your best defense against distracted driving is prevention. Stay alert and focused on the road, removing all potential distractions. Let’s create safer roads for everyone – pedestrians and drivers alike.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW
Parker Waichman LLP helps families recover monetary compensation for harm caused by distracted drivers. For your free consultation, contact our New York Pedestrian Wrongful Death Lawsuit Law Firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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