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Motorists Are Duty Bound to Yield the Right of Way to Pedestrians or Bicyclists

Traffic Rules and Regulations of the City of New York §4-03(a)(1)(i) provides “…vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right of way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk…” Many times, motorists make left turns onto a roadway without looking and seeing whether there are approaching vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians entering the intersection, causing serious accidents.

The Appellate Division, Second Department is often faced with cases involving pedestrians or bicyclists struck by motor vehicles. Recently, just this year, the Appellate Division decided France Herly Bien-Aime v. Clare, —N.Y.S.2d—, 2015 NY Slip Op 00713 (2nd Dept., 1-28-2015) and Tsang v. New York City Transit Authority, —N.Y.S.2d—, 2015 NY Slip Op 00875 (2nd Dept., 2-4-2015)

In France, supra, the plaintiff was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant as she walked across Bedford Avenue, at its intersection with Parkside Avenue, in Brooklyn. The plaintiff testified she stopped at the intersection before stepping onto the street. During that time, she observed traffic and saw the pedestrian “WALK” signal in her favor before entering the street and crossing over Bedford Avenue within the marked crosswalk. She testified she was more than halfway across the street, closer to the other side and still within the crosswalk, when she was struck on the right side by the defendant’s vehicle as it made a left turn into the intersection causing her to fall. The France Court found, based on plaintiff’s testimony, that she entered the intersection after exercising due care. The defendant motorist testified he did not remember looking for any pedestrians crossing the street when he was stopped on Parkside Avenue before making the left turn onto Bedford Avenue. He also testified he did not see the plaintiff pedestrian at any time before the accident, until he saw her on top of his vehicle’s hood, even though there was nothing obstructing his view of the roadway. The France Court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability and found the defendant failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff pedestrian was comparatively at fault for the happening of the accident.

In Tsang, supra, the plaintiff was a pedestrian struck by a New York City Transit Authority bus as she walked across Bath Avenue at its intersection with 25th Avenue, in Brooklyn. The plaintiff presented evidence the bus driver failed to yield the right of way to them, while they were crossing the street within the crosswalk with the pedestrian crossing signal in their favor. The Tsang Court found the evidence showed the pedestrians looked both ways before entering the crosswalk and during the course of crossing the street, and that they were hit from behind by the bus when they were approximately three quarters of the way across the street. The Tsang Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability and found the defendant failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the plaintiffs were comparatively at fault in the happening of the accident.

Pedestrians and bicyclists face enormous dangers on the road. To ensure safety, it is important for pedestrians or bicyclists to look in all directions before proceeding through an intersection to ensure there are no approaching vehicles so close as to constitute a danger. Motorists are duty bound to see what with reasonable use of their senses can be seen on the roadway, particularly so when there are no obstructions in front of them.

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury in an automobile accident, you should contact the New York personal injury attorneys at Leav & Steinberg, LLP.