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New York City Pedestrians Should Double Check Before They Heed Crosswalk Lights

Whether you typically abide by pedestrian signs or not, soon it may be harder to do so in all areas of New York City.

What do you do when the pedestrian light is green and red at the same time? At this point in time, NYC pedestrian signals are nearing the end of their expected seven-year lifespan and are giving mixed signals or no signal at an increasing rate. Replacing the approximate 100,000 signs in New York City that are anticipated to soon be defunct is an extensive, daunting, and expensive task for the city.

While the city is responsible for maintaining pedestrian lights and may be liable for injuries that occur due to malfunctioning lights that simultaneously tell a pedestrian to both “walk” and “don’t walk”, pedestrians are not completely off the hook from looking for dangers in an intersection. In fact, even when the light is functioning properly, a pedestrian could be found partially or wholly liable for personal injuries that occur when he or she is struck by a vehicle in the road. Regardless of the status of the light, pedestrians must look where they are going and avoid entering the road in front of a vehicle which is so close as to present a danger. Yet, drivers are bound to exercise due care to avoid striking pedestrians. Thus, who is at fault for an accident is heavily dependent on the facts of each case.

Children and the elderly are at an increased risk for confusion and personal injury as a result of the inability to rely on a proper, functioning, signal. Those who frequent the same intersections should keep in mind that a light could malfunction at any point in time, rendering a seemingly safe and familiar intersection suddenly much more dangerous to them. If you notice a malfunctioning light, contact the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) by telephoning 311 as soon as possible. Remember that the signal may not be repaired immediately, and be sure to maintain your guard every time you cross the street.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP recently represented a woman, age 45, who was crossing at an intersection in Manhattan when an off duty traffic cop turned left and struck her. She was treated for knee and shoulder injuries with arthroscopic surgeries and underwent treatment for a back injury that the defendant argued was not caused by the claimed accident. The defendant’s doctor had stated that the Plaintiff made a full and complete recovery from her injuries and was not disabled. The Plaintiff had not returned to work and claimed that it was difficult for her to continue working and commuting. Before trial, she recovered a settlement of $1,225,000.


My Fox New York: “NYC Crosswalk Signs on Last Legs”

CBS New York: “Stay? Go? NYC Crosswalk Lights Give Mixed Signals”